B.League: Kai Sotto's Hiroshima stuns Chiba to close in on semifinals berth | Inquirer Sports

B.League: Kai Sotto’s Hiroshima stuns Chiba to close in on semifinals berth

/ 10:33 PM May 13, 2023

Kai Sotto Hiroshima B.League

FILE–Hiroshima Dragonflies’ Kai Sotto. Photo from B.League

MANILA, Philippines — Kai Sotto played limited minutes in his first professional playoff game but the Hiroshima Dragonflies upset the No.1 seed Chiba Jets with a thrilling 72-70 victory to inch a win closer to the 2022-23 B.League semifinals on Saturday at Funabashi Arena.

The 7-foot-3 center, who celebrated his 21st birthday last Thursday, tallied seven points, four rebounds, one block, and a steal in just 16 minutes of action as a starter.

Kerry Blackshear Jr. sank the game-winning free throws with nine seconds remaining to draw first blood in their best-of-three series.

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Hiroshima blew a 70-62 lead with 2:34 remaining as Chiba scored eight straight points capped by Victor Law’s game-tying trey at the 1:07 mark.

Blackshear came to the rescue in the final seconds of the match grabbing an offensive rebound off his own miss to bring back the Dragonflies on top and escaping the Jets with Yuki Togashi missing his potential game-tying jump shot.

Blackshear led Hiroshima with 15 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, and four steals, while Dwayne Evans had 16 points as they try to sweep Chiba in Game 2 on Sunday.

Law carried the Jets with 16 points as they fell to the brink of elimination after finishing 53-7 in the regular season.

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Ryukyu Golden Kings' newest recruit Carl Tamayo. –EASL PHOTO

Ryukyu Golden Kings’ newest recruit Carl Tamayo. –EASL PHOTO

Meanwhile, Carl Tamayo was scoreless in two minutes in his first playoff as a pro but the Ryukyu Golden Kings completed a series sweep of the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins, which continued to miss Ray Parks Jr. due to injury, with a 92-81 victory in Game 2 at Okinawa Arena.

Former PBA import Allen Durham led the way for the Golden Kings with 30 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists. Keita Imamura chipped in 17 points on 5-of-8 shooting from deep, while Jack Cooley posted a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds.

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Durham sustained his fine play, following a 14-point outing including a dagger trey in their 91-85 victory in Game 1 on Friday.

Nagoya, which finished with a 43-17 record in the regular season, was eliminated despite the efforts of Coty Clarke and Maurice Ndour, who had 22 points each, as well as Taito Nakahigashi contributing 14 points, five steals, and four rebounds.

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Parks missed a couple of games due to an undisclosed injury to end his second B.League season.

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TAGS: Carl Tamayo, Hiroshima Dragonflies, Japan B.League, Kai Sotto, Ryukyu Golden Kings

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