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Utsunomiya Brex Outplay Kawasaki Brave Thunders in Series Opener, Earn First Victory of Season

The Brex bounced back from a pair of overtime defeats in the opening weekend of the B.League’s 2021-22 campaign.

After two overtime losses last weekend to the Gunma Crane Thunders, the Utsunomiya Brex recorded their first victory of the new season on Friday night, October 8.

The Brex took an eight-point lead into the fourth quarter and held on for a 77-68 home triumph over the Kawasaki Brave Thunders.

Josh Scott led Utsunomiya with 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting and nine rebounds, and newcomer Isaac Fotu, who began his pro career with the New Zealand Breakers in 2011, added 15 points. Japan national team player Makoto Hiejima finished with 13 points, five rebounds and six assists, while Seiji Ikaruga contributed nine points and six assists.

Kawasaki (2-1) took a 30-29 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Nick Fazekas scored a game-high 21 points on 8-for-13 shooting for the visitors. Backcourt dynamo Yuma Fujii added 16 points and five assists, and Pablo Aguilar had a 10-point night.

The Brex led 51-37 with 2 minutes remaining in the third quarter after a Kosuke Takeuchi free throw.

The Brave Thunders cut the margin to 51-43 on a pair of 3-pointers to close out the quarter.

Utsunomiya’s lead increased to 13 with 3 minutes left in the final period, but Kawasaki couldn’t stage an improbable comeback.

Instead, the Brex picked up their first win of the post-Ryan Rossiter/Jeff Gibbs era. The two American stars, longtime teammates in the B League era, joined the Alvark Tokyo and Nagasaki Velca, respectively, in the offseason. The Velca are a new B.League third-division expansion team in their inaugural season.

"I'm just happy we got the win, the first one of the season for you guys [the fans]," Scott said in an on-court interview after the game.

Asked about his enjoyment of the Brex's up-tempo offensive style, the University of Colorado alum responded by saying, "It's what I do. I like to run, and luckily I have good guards to get me the ball."

The Brave Thunders committed 19 turnovers

All 22 B.League first-division teams were scheduled to play on Saturday, October 9, with the Brex and Brave Thunders set to square off again at 6:25 p.m.

Author:  Ed Odeven

Follow Ed on JAPAN Forward's [Japan Sports Notebook] here on Sundays, in [Odds and Evens] here during the week, and Twitter @ed_odeven.

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