Kings win in overtime with defense – Ryukyu Golden Kings vs Ibaraki Robots GAME1 –

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On Saturday, December 10, 2022, Ryukyu Golden Kings vs Ibaraki Robots GAME 1 was held at Okinawa Arena.

This was the first matchup between Ibaraki and Kings, who were promoted to B1 for the 2021-22 season. Ibaraki is an aggressive team with a fast-paced, shoot-em-up style. Will Ibaraki’s offensive style work against Kings’ high intensity defense?

 

Ibaraki takes the lead with a high percentage of 3-pointers and early attacks

Starting for Kings are #1 Josh Duncan, #14 Ryuichi Kishimoto, #30 Keita Imamura, #34 Shota Onodera, and #45 Jack Cooley.

For Ibaraki, #8 Asahi Tajima, #11 Chehales Tapscott, #17 Hayato Yamaguchi, #21 Eric Jacobsen, and #25 Atsunobu Hirao.

Hirao, an Ibaraki guard, was active right from the start of the game. He succeeded in taking outside shots one after another, which is never easy. Hirao scored 11 points in the first quarter alone, including 3 of 4 successful 3-pointers.

Kings also shot well with a 73% FG% (11/15) in the first quarter, but their defense did not work well as they allowed 56% (9/16) of Ibaraki’s first quarter FG%.

As Kings HC Oketani said after the game, “In the early going, we were matching Ibaraki in scoring,” and at the end of the first quarter, Kings led by 5 points, 27-22. No, Ibaraki brought the game to their own pace with only a five-point difference.

 

The second quarter also progressed at Ibaraki’s pace. Ibaraki began to turn the tempo of the ball outside from a 5-out (everyone positioned near the 3-point line) and shoot from unmarked on an increasing number of occasions.

HC Oketani commented, “Ibaraki’s Maccabi motion (a formation of repeated pick-and-rolls on the left and right sides) with Jacobsen as the starting point created a gap in the markings. Ibaraki-san’s offense was good, but our defense also let the ball get around easily,” he reflected.

Kings’ defense is characterized by intensity. The word “intensity” may sound like “brute force,” but it may be easier to understand if you interpret it as “being patient and taking responsibility. A player does not easily switch the marksman when the opponent picks and rolls, and he always pursues his own marksman, whether on-ball or off-ball, while keeping his body on the line.

However, this becomes a strong team defense when everyone on the court “keeps playing” defense with high intensity. This was not the case in the first half on this day, as HC Oketani would have liked to say.

 

With 4:08 left in the second quarter, Ibaraki’s Yamaguchi scored on a fast break off a defensive rebound for a basket count one throw to put Ibaraki up 39-40.

Ibaraki’s fast break points in the first half gave the Kings a 10-point advantage, 10-0. Ibaraki scored in double figures in the first half alone with Chehales Tapscott, Eric Jacobsen, and Joseph Diawara all scoring in double figures.

Kings, on the other hand, could not get into their own pace. As evidence, the Kings had zero offensive rebounds in the first half, a first for the season, and it was clear that they were not playing at their own pace.

The second quarter ended with Ibaraki leading by 10 points, 41-51. Kings needed a “switch” to get into their own pace.

 

Flippin’ flips the “switch” on Kings

Ibaraki’s strong shooting touch continued in the third quarter. Three-pointers by Tajima and Jacobsen give Ibaraki their largest lead of the day, 13 points, with the score 48-61 with 5:26 remaining.

But Kings’ defense is gradually coming into play. The Okinawa Arena crowd cheered loudly when Onodera stole the ball with his physical defense and drew an unsportsmanlike foul. Kings, like the Kings, ignite the crowd from the defensive end.

 

The three-point offense of Ibaraki and the inside scoring of Kings ended the third quarter with Durham singlehandedly pushing in an offensive rebound for a 66-72, 6-point lead for Ibaraki.

In the fourth quarter, the first score came from Flippin’s dynamic drive. Flippin scored with a beautiful drive with a long dwell time, typical of him.

However, Ibaraki also defended desperately against Kings’ inside attack, and did not pass the flow of the game. With 4:46 remaining, Ibaraki led by 7 points, 74-81. Kings could not close the gap.

With 3:00 remaining, Flippin took the court again in place of Kishimoto. From this point on, Flippin’s energy flipped the “switch” on Kings.

With 2 minutes left, Flippin made a steal off a long pass from Ibaraki. With 1:36 left, Flippin drove from the left corner and scored on a big double clutch to make it a four-point game, 82-86. The Okinawa Arena was filled with loud claps in anticipation of a comeback.

 

With 42 seconds left, Kings finally catch Ibaraki. Imamura wastes no time in scoring a goal with a sharp drive. 84-86, up by two. The combination of “Zombie Nation’s Kernkraft 400″ – “Pirates of the Caribbean Theme Song” as arena background music stirs up hopes for a comeback.

Cooley’s blocked shot takes the ball away from Ibaraki, and Durham scores off a mismatched drive after missing a defensive rotation error by Ibaraki. 86-86, the game is finally tied. The game went into overtime.

 

Kings completely switched on defense. In the overtime, Cooley’s loose ball dive, Flippin’s steal and defense wowed the crowd at Okinawa Arena.

What a surprise, Kings limit the overtime loss to only one free throw score. The final score was 95-87 and Kings won the game with their own defense.

 

How to make the most of the “fangs” of Flippin

After the game, Kings’ Oketani HC commented on Flippin’s performance in the second half.

“When we had Koh on the court, he was getting a lot of overhelp and sagging by Ibaraki, but Koh’s ball release was good, and his attack from the week side was really good.

“When Koh was away from the team for the national training camp, he wasn’t able to do what we had all been practicing and building up to. We wanted to play with a common understanding among all team members of the special way the opponent defends against Koh, but we were not able to do so. We have been able to do that over the past few weeks.”

“The team had a common understanding that when Koh was defended like this, we could attack like this, and we were able to do that smoothly today. The chemistry has been building.”

 

Koh-Flippin’s greatest weapon is his explosive driving ability and his ability to use his physicality to defend. However, he has never been good at controlling the ball or shooting outside shots. Although he is a different type of player, his distorted abilities are like Hanamichi Sakuragi from the manga “Slam Dunk”.

It was no coincidence that the game featured many of Flippin’s dynamic drives. It was the result of a shared team understanding that Ibaraki would take advantage of Flippin’s unmarked 3-pointers and put him on the other side of the ball, giving him more space to maximize his driving ability the moment he had the ball.

In the manga “Slam Dunk”, Coach Anzai made Hanamichi Sakuragi realize that offensive rebounds are worth “+4 points,” and he turned that ability into momentum for the team.

How will they use Flippin as a team? How will they utilize Flippin’s “fangs”? This will be the growth potential for Kings to further develop.