The group stage of EASL Champions Week ended today with Ryukyu Golden Kings booking their place in the third-place game, beating the defending P. LEAGUE+ champions Taipei Fubon Braves 83-78.
The Golden Kings were coming off a 28-point victory over the San Miguel Beermen on Thursday in Utsunomiya. The Japanese side entered today’s game technically in contention for a place in the championship game but would have had to boost their points difference by 52 to make it. Group A rivals Anyang KGC had virtually secured their place in the decider after beating the Beermen by a 55-point margin in today’s earlier game.
Taipei Fubon Braves had a chance to make the third-place game if they defeated the hometown team today.
This was a game filled with mistakes early on, as both teams struggled to hold onto the ball, combining for 17 turnovers in the first half. The game was still up for grabs going into the half, as the teams went in tied at 45 apiece.
It was a different story in the third as the Golden Kings stormed in front with a 23-point scoring burst. Their defense came up big in crucial moments too, limiting the Braves to just eight points in the quarter. The Braves mounted a late run, outscoring the Golden Kings by 10 in the final frame, but their comeback fell just short.
Ryukyu big man Jack Cooley was the hometown hero in this game, posting a double-double, scoring 24 points while grabbing 13 rebounds.
After the game, Ryukyu Golden Kings Head Coach Oketani Dai comments on how the large point difference impacted the players for this game. “It was kind of hard to make the big point gap. So there were some players watching the game, staying in the locker room. But we have to do our own basketball. Most important is to win, but we have to understand our own game. As we are growing, we just have to do our own basketball.”
This loss was Taipei Fubon Braves’ second and eliminated the team from EASL Champions Week. Chris Johnson put out a valiant effort in a losing cause, scoring a game-high 28 points to go with nine rebounds.