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In the 2024 B.League All-Star Game, Ryuichi Kishimoto Excites Fans

The Ryukyu Golden Kings guard, who was named MVP, scored a game-high 24 points in the B.League All-Star Game for B.Black in a narrow loss to B.White.

Entering the fourth quarter of the 2024 B.League All-Star Game, both teams had played an entertaining 30 minutes of basketball on Sunday afternoon, January 14. 

B.Black and B.White were tied 92-92 in the fast-paced contest at Okinawa Arena.

And then, in the fourth quarter, the spotlight shined on local favorite Ryuichi Kishimoto, a native of Okinawa who has played his entire pro career with the Ryukyu Golden Kings.

Kishimoto scored 17 of his game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter. He carried the B.Black offense for stretches of the final period.

Kishimoto attempted 11 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. He made five long-range shots in the final stanza to the delight of his teammates and the upbeat crowd of 7,357.

It was a dynamic performance, but it wasn't enough to lift B.Black, led by Ryukyu coach Dai Oketani, to victory in the Golden Kings' home gym.

B.White outscored B.Black by 11 points in the second half and recorded a 128-123 All-Star Game victory.

B.League All-Star Game
B.White players celebrate their victory in the 2024 B.League All-Star Game. (B.LEAGUE)

Kishimoto, who turned pro in 2013, was selected as the All-Star Game MVP.

"Even though we lost the game, I'm happy," Kishimoto was quoted as saying by The Ryukyu Shimpo.

The popular playmaker added, "I hope to use this opportunity to spread the appeal of basketball from Okinawa.''

3-Pointers Define the Fourth Quarter

Kishimoto buried a pair of 3s for the first points of the fourth quarter, giving B.Black a 98-92 lead with 9:22 remaining.

Another Kishimoto 3 made it 101-92 at the 8:37 mark. Sunrockers Shibuya big man Josh Hawkinson extended the B.Black lead to 11 on a fast-break slam dunk.

B.White followed with an 11-0 run capped by a Naoto Tsuji 3-pointer to even the score at 103-103 with 6:19 to play.

Moments later, Tsuji, a Hiroshima Dragonflies guard, made another 3, tying it at 106-106.

Tsuji's hot shooting continued. He drained another 3-pointer attempt as B.White took a 111-108 advantage, and it quickly extended to 114-108 after ― you guessed it ― another 3-pointer. This time, Nagasaki Velca's Yudai Baba hit his target from beyond the arc with 4:43 remaining.

B.League All-Star Game
B.White guard Yuki Kawamura scored eight of his 17 points in the fourth quarter. (B.LEAGUE)

With under 2 minutes remaining, Yokohama B-Corsairs star Yuki Kawamura, the B.League's leading scorer this season (23.1 points per game), made 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions for B.White, the second of which gave B.White coach John Patrick's team a 125-117 lead at the 1:29 mark.

Late Rally Falls Short for B.Black

Kishimoto wasn't finished. He rallied his team to within 125-123 with 59 seconds remaining after knocking down two more 3-pointers in a 23-second span.

But that was as close as B.Black would get.

With 28 seconds to play, Shimane Susanoo Magic guard Seiya Ando made 1 of 2 free-throw attempts to extend B.White's lead to three. And then, following a potential game-tying 3 by Kishimoto, Kawamura scored the game's final two points on foul shots.

Kishimoto, however, had the last shot, a 3 that missed its mark with 11 ticks left on the game clock.

Dragonflies forward Dwayne Evans corralled the defensive rebound before the final seconds elapsed.

B.League All-Star Game
B.White's Perrin Buford shoots a layup early in the second quarter. (B.LEAGUE)

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B.League All-Star Game Statistics

B.Black made 25 of 67 3-pointers, while B.White sank 19 of 52 attempts.

From 2-point range, B.Black was 23-for-26 and B.White made 33 of 41.

For B.Black, double-digit scorers in addition to Kishimoto were Ryukyu's Jack Cooley (18 points), Alvark Tokyo's Hirotaka Yoshii (16 points), Hawkinson (15 points, 11 rebounds), Nagoya Diamond Dolphins' Takumi Saito (11) and SeaHorses Mikawa swingman Yudai Nishida (10). Kawasaki Brave Thunders guard Ryusei Shinoyama dished out nine assists.

B.League All-Star Game
B.White forward Ryota Sakurai looks to score in the third quarter. (B.LEAGUE)

Shimane's Perrin Buford paced B.White with 19 points and finished with nine rebounds and six assists. Chiba Jets floor leader Yuki Togashi had 17 points, Kawamura and Levanga Hokkaido's Ryota Sakurai, who turns 41 in March and is playing his final pro season, both had 13 points for the winning squad. Tsuji contributed 12 points, Ando and Baba both had 11, while Evans and B-Corsairs big man Josh Scott chipped in with 10 apiece.

There was a concerted effort from the players to deliver an entertaining spectacle for the fans. For instance, Buford, starring for B.White, said on Saturday that he would complete an alley-oop from Susanoo Magic teammate Ando in the game.

Asked about that in his post-game broadcast interview, Buford responded by saying, "I feel good, I wanted to come out here and compete, [and] I wanted to come out here and fulfill that promise, and we got the win."

B.League All-Star Game
2024 B.League All-Star Game MVP Ryuichi Kishimoto (B.LEAGUE)

All-Star Game Notes

Four players were nominated for MVP consideration after the game: Kishimoto, Buford, Hawkinson and Kawamura. Fans selected Kishimoto via SNS voting.

Cooley, a fan favorite in Okinawa and now in his fifth season with the Golden Kings, commented on the events. The former NBA player (Utah Jazz, Sacramento Kings) said he thoroughly enjoyed the All-Star weekend festivities.

"What a GREAT All-Star weekend!" Cooley posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. "I had an amazing time and I really hope the fans did too. Thank you to the [B.League] for putting together such a fantastic event and being so understanding. I am always proud to represent the Golden Kings."

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Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and X (formerly Twitter) @ed_odeven.

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