A great win to make up for the disappointment of the finals – Ryukyu Golden Kings vs Utsunomiya Brex GAME1 –


The B.LEAGUE 2022-23 season has finally begun, and on October 1, 2022, the Ryukyu Golden Kings hosted Utsunomiya Brexit, the team they lost to in last season’s finals, in their season opener at the Okinawa Arena.

Last season, the Kings achieved the highest winning percentage in their regular season history, but fell one step short of their long-cherished dream of winning the B League championship.

Both the Kings and Utsunomiya Brexit have new players, but the lineup is almost the same as the players who played in last season’s finals. Before the season opener, Kings HC Oketani said, “The opening game is just one game of a long season,” but the Kings must not have forgotten their disappointment at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium finals.

The same frustration was felt by the fans who watched the final from Okinawa, where a crowd of 8,022 filled the Okinawa Arena, eager to avenge last season’s finals. Can the Kings take their first white star of the season from last season’s champions?

New Kings showing a variety of attacks

Kings starters are #4 Koh Flippin, #7 Allen Durham, #24 Naoki Tashiro, #30 Kata Imamura, #45 Jack Cooley.

Utsunomiya’s starters were #6 Shin Hiejima, #9 Yusuke Endo, #18 Seiji Ikaruga, #40 Josh Scott, and #42 Isaac Fotu.


In the 1st quarter, Flippin scored the first goal for the Kings. He got a steal from Hiejima, who played a big role in last season’s finals, and went on to score on a fast break.

Kings put strong pressure on the ball and had 6 steals taken in the first quarter alone. Kings took control of the game on defense.

On offense, Kings also took the lead from Utsunomiya. Kings attacked outside thoroughly at the beginning of the first quarter. They pass out from inside to make no marks and shoot 3-pointers. Conversely, the end of the first quarter was a complete turnaround and an inside attack. The heavyweight lineup of Duncan and Cooley attacked Utsunomiya’s inside. The Kings, who attack in a wide variety of ways in the quarter, create a rhythm.

The first quarter ends with the Kings leading by 6 points, 16 – 10.


The game between the two sides continues from the final four months ago

The first play of the second quarter, Utsunomiya goes one-on-one with Ikaruga, who chooses to play the play that tormented the Kings’ guards in last season’s Finals and pushed Kishimoto to the limit. However, Kishimoto, who is matched up against him, defends strongly against the power of Ikaruga. Utsunomiya wants to evoke bitter memories of last season’s Finals, and Kings defy them. It is not only this game, but the running game has been going on since the Finals four months ago.

The Kings continue to torment Utsunomiya with their solid defense, and with 4:45 left in the second quarter, the official timeout is 19-13. Utsunomiya already has 9 turnovers. Utsunomiya’s HC Sasa will definitely want to fix this.

But from this point on, Flippin was on fire on offense for the Kings. Flippin scored off of a steal, a lightning-fast break, and a long-distance jump shot, all of which helped Utsunomiya outscore the Kings’ defense.

Flippin scored eight points in the second quarter alone, and the Kings’ lead grew to 18 points, 35-17, at the end of the first half.


Flippin’s “Dance” Enthusiastically Enthusiasts a Packed Arena

In the third quarter, Utsunomiya looked to fight back. First, Utsunomiya’s Josh Scott scored first. Then the Kings sent Flippin to the bench with a leg injury. Then, with 8:44 left in the third quarter, Tashiro committed his third foul.

Sasa HC changed Utsunomiya’s defense to a “wait and see” style, a changing defense from a 2-3 zone defense to a man-to-man defense. This was another play that helped Utsunomiya pull out a win in last season’s finals.

The Kings’ offense had a bit of hesitation, and Utsunomiya did not miss it. After a Kings turnover, Utsunomiya got a basket count one throw by Josh Scott. Just as the game was about to turn in Utsunomiya’s favor, Kings HC Oketani called timeout first, even though the point difference was still 12 points.

Against Utsunomiya’s “wait-and-see” defense, the Kings opened up space wide, and the breakthrough Durham and Imamura drove straight to the goal. Durham’s 3-point shot over Utsunomiya’s Mavunga gave the Kings a 20-point lead, 50 – 30.

As HC Oketani said after the game, “The assistant coaches analyzed and prepared well for last season’s finals,” and they will not repeat the same mistakes as in the finals.

When Flippin returned to the court, the Kings’ offense gained even more momentum. Flippin not only scored his own points, but also assisted his teammates.

With 3:44 left in the third quarter, Flippin quickly carried the ball frontcourt from the right side, did not miss the unmarked left corner, and instead of waiting for Durham at the low post, he passed in bounds across the court to set up Matsuwaki’s 3-pointer from the left corner.

Flippin danced around the court, passing to the left and right corners, and Matsuwaki and Onodera shot consecutive 3-pointers. The packed Okinawa Arena went wild for Flippin’s “dance.

By the end of the third quarter, the Kings were up by 30 points, 66-36, and at the end of the fourth quarter, new Asian bench player #42 Jay Washington scored directly off an offensive rebound. He was cheered by the fans.

The final score was 81-52, and the Kings avenged the disappointment of last season’s finals with a convincing victory.


Flippin, the “point guard,” led the team with 15 points and 6 assists on the day. In the press conference after the game, he said, “Against Utsunomiya’s zone defense, I was able to kick out to the corner from my penetrate and break it up with a 3-pointer.

I’m thinking about whether I should score or pass the ball.” His ability to break Utsunomiya’s tight defense with his own passing seemed to give him confidence.

When I asked Flippin about the pass that Durham almost took at the low post, he laughed and said, “I thought AD (Durham) could have scored, but I saw Matsu (Matsuwaki) staying in the corner, so I went for it. Flippin replied, “I thought AD (Durham) could score, too.

Flippin’s smile and energy were enough for the Kings to win the opening round. The Kings are looking forward to Game 2 the next day.