Kings Win First Game of West Division Leader’s Battle – Ryukyu Golden Kings vs Shimane Susanoo Magic GAME1 –

Bleague

Shimane Susanoo Magic, last season’s CS Semifinalists, returned to the Okinawa Arena.

On Saturday, November 26, 2022, Ryukyu Golden Kings vs Shimane Susanoo Magic Game 1 was held at Okinawa Arena.

Before this game, both teams had won 9 games and lost 2, with the Kings slightly ahead on goal difference. It was a battle for the top spot in the West Division.

Kings HC Oketani said before the game, “The match against Shimane is the first big game of the season,” and there is no doubt that both teams will be contenders for the West Division championship this season. The matchup is sure to be a battle for this season’s West Division championship.

 

Shimane Takes the Lead in “Buzzsaw” Style

Kings starters are #7 Allen Durham, #14 Ryuichi Kishimoto, #30 Keita Imamura, #34 Shota Onodera, and #45 Jack Cooley.

For Shimane, #2 Perrin Buford, #3 Seiya Ando, #4 Nick Kay, #26 Shota Tsuyama, and #28 Nyika Williams.

Shimane, looking for revenge for last season’s CS, took the lead with energetic play from the start of the game. Shimane scored inside with Buford leading the way.

 

Tsuyama, who was selected to start for Shimane in this game, also made his presence felt from the beginning.

In the first quarter alone, Tsuyama scored 5 points, including a 3-pointer. He supported Shimane’s two main aces, Buford and Ando.

 

In the first quarter, Shimane took a 7-point lead, 15-22.

The second quarter was also Shimane’s pace. The “Buzzsaw” style of play, with its aggressiveness, put Shimane in complete control of the game.

Kings were behind by as many as 18 points in the middle of the second quarter. However, Kishimoto managed to hold the team back with 9 points in the second quarter alone.

Then, at the end of the second quarter, Kishimoto made a driving layup, and soon after, Cooley made a steal on an inbounds pass. He went on to score on a buzzer beater.

The score at the end of the 2Q was 35-43, an 8-point Shimane lead. But for Kings, being able to turn the first half around with a single-digit point difference was significant.

 

Second half: Yoshiyuki Matsuwaki, unsung hero

In the third quarter, the unexpected happened to Shimane. With 8:17 remaining, Nyika Williams, a naturalized player, was ejected from the game for a disqualifying foul (malicious foul) against Onodera.

From this point on, Kings switched on defense and went on a 15-5 run without allowing Shimane to score. However, Kings’ momentum did not last, and they allowed Shimane to go on a run of their own, and at the end of the third quarter, the score was 55-65, a 10-point lead for Shimane.

In the fourth quarter, however, the Kings began a furious pursuit. The hero of the game was Matsuwaki. He perfectly marked Buford, the engine of Shimane. He utilizes his physicality to his advantage over foreign players.

After the game, HC Oketani said of Matsuwaki’s defense, “It was the best. As he said after the game, “It was close to a perfect defense,” he limited Buford’s FG% to 28% (2/7) in the 3rd and 4th quarters. Matsuwaki stopped the “Buzzsaw” engine with his physicality.

 

The courtside of the Okinawa Arena was also excited to witness Kings’ typical fierce defense! Expectations for an upset grew throughout the arena.

 

With a boost from the Okinawa Arena, Kings gained momentum.

A strong inside attack by Cooley and Duncan led to Kay fouling out with 2:58 left in the fourth quarter, as he continued to support the Shimane inside.

 

With 57 seconds left in the fourth quarter, a turnover by Shimane led to a fast break by Durham to bring Kings within one, 79-80.

With 20 seconds left, Durham made one free throw to finally tie the game, 80-80, and the game went into overtime.

 

Overtime was completely in Kings’ favor.

Imamura sank a driving layup from the left corner, and Kishimoto followed with a game-deciding 3-pointer from the left corner.

 

The final score was 96-86, with the Kings winning by up to 18 points. They won the first game of the battle for first place in the West Division.

 

Difficulty in bringing the team together

At the post-game press conference, Kings’ HC Oketani emphasized the “perseverance” of the entire team: “We persevered through a difficult first half, and even when we fell behind again in the third quarter, we were able to turn it around with our own baskets when the tide came in our favor.”

HC Oketani then mentioned Flippin, who had not played since the third quarter. “Flippin’s mentality was not SamePage. I think it’s the same with any team, but when you have players who are not on the same page, it makes the game harder.”

 

The team fights as one. It is an old saying, but it is not an easy thing to achieve.

At the same time last season, Kishimoto was away from the team for the Japan national team. This season, Flippin has been selected for the Japan national team, and the situation is the same.

 

Based on his own experience, Kishimoto spoke about the “reality” of the difficulty of balancing national team activities and league competition.

“Personally, I felt that balancing the national team and team is a much more difficult and arduous task than you might imagine. The roles required of you in the national team are different, and you are constantly under pressure. It definitely leads to my personal growth, and there are things I can see when I am away from the team. I have to figure out how to adjust myself to the team in such a situation.”

 

When asked what he would like to tell Flippin, who has become a representative of the Kings as a player for Japan, Kishimoto spoke slowly.

“I feel that I will always need Ko’s help to win the championship,” Kishimoto said slowly. “Believe in yourself and play.”

“Not only in basketball, but in life, there will always be times when things go wrong, and how you behave and how you do your best in those times will have a big impact on your future.”

“After the game, I spoke a little in front of everyone and said, ‘Depending on the game, some players have a good time, while others feel frustrated. I told them that some players have a good time in each game, while others feel frustrated. I believe I have been able to do so and am here now.”

 

They are by no means a disparate group. On the contrary, each individual has a strong will to win, which makes it difficult for the team as a living organism to become one.

The origin of the word “TEAM” is said to be “Together Everyone Achievement More. Together Everyone Achieves More.”

Will they become a “TEAM” over the course of a year and reach a higher level of achievement? This is the fun and difficulty of professional sports.