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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Chiba Jets edge Knights, sweep way to EASL title

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LAPU-LAPU CITY—The Chiba Jets capped a dominant campaign by winning the East Asia Super League (EASL) championship Sunday night behind a 72-69 thriller over the Seoul SK Knights before a jampacked crowd at the Hoops Dome.

Yuki Togashi had a game-high 22 points including two pressure-packed free throws in the final 14 seconds for the game-clincher as Jameel Warney missed a potential game-tying three pointer in the Knights’ final possession.

The 5-foot-6 captain of the Japan national team also connected on four treys and had seven assists in the win worth $1 million for the Japan B. League ballclub which finished its campaign unbeaten in eight games.

“Hats off to the players, they deserved the championship,” said Chiba Jets coach John Patrick, “It was a dramatic, difficult game. We addressed our defense and Yuki took over at the end, and that has been the story of our season so far.

“I couldn’t be prouder and I couldn’t be happier. I’m also glad to do this in Cebu, with so many friendly and passionate fans, great environment here, loud and high, and that’s what basketball is all about.”

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The Knights took home $500,000 for finishing runner up in the five-month long, home-and-away season backed by Philippine Airlines, Dusit Thani Mactan Cebu Resort, Tiktok as official partners and Anta, McDonald’s, and Spalding as product endorsers.

John Mooney also played big for the Jets with a double-double of 16 points and 16 rebounds, while naturalized player and former San Miguel import Ira Brown was the other Chiba player in double figures with 12 points.

The loss by the Knights spoiled the 22-point, 17-rebound, and five-assist effort of Jameel Warney, whose completed three-point play gave the Korean Basketball League (KBL) side a 62-60 lead with 4:44 left in the tightly-fought game.

But Togashi answered back with a huge three pointer as the Jets wrested the lead for good, 63-62.

The Knights threatened at 69-70 on a three-point shot by An Youngjun in the final 73 seconds, before Togashi answered back with his two free throws to seal the deal.

Earlier, dethroned champion Anyang Jung Kwan Jang edged out New Taipei Kings in the battle for third place, 78-76, to pocket $250,000.

Both Rhenz Abando (Anyang) and former NBA star Jeremy Lin (Taipei Kings) didn’t suit up due to injuries.

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