Warriors control court, defeat Hedges 97-71
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- From the time the ball was thrown into the air to the sound of the final buzzer, the Yokota Warriors dominated the basketball game against the Saitama Hedges, a Japanese team from the Saitama Prefecture, at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sept. 26, 2015. The Warriors won the game 97-71.
Even though Hedges won the tip, it didn't make much of a difference with Yokota setting the tone for the game. The Warriors jumped out to an early lead, going on an 11-4 run in the first three minutes of the game.
Yokota stayed ahead through the end of the first quarter, but was unable to capitalize multiple turnovers made by Saitama to extend their lead past nine points. Yokota went into the second quarter with a 26-17 lead.
"During the first quarter we were being fairly lazy on defense and allowed a lot of back door cuts which let them take several easy shots," said Lawrence Spicer, Yokota Warriors forward. "As the second quarter began, we started playing better defense and pushing the ball up the court to increase the tempo of the game."
Saitama opened the second quarter with a bang, forcing a turnover and scoring two quick buckets cutting the lead to five. Unfortunately for Saitama, the Warriors answered back by going on an 8-0 run building a 34-21 lead with six minutes left in the first half.
As the quarter continued, Yokota used their size and speed to attack the basket, play tough defense and kept Hedges from taking more than one shot on most offensive possessions. This led to Saitama struggling to hold on to the Warriors as they went into the half with a 56-35 lead.
"We needed to make changes at half time since the Warriors had a big lead," said Yuji Sato, Saitama Hedges center. "We had our big men set screens for the guards to bring their big players to the perimeter for the guards to attack the basket. We also needed to hustle more on both ends of the court."
Both teams started the second half struggling to score offensively for the first three minutes. Even though Saitama began scoring, they struggled to play good defense and keep the Warriors off of the offensive glass. This allowed Yokota to build on their commanding lead to 80-51 before the quarter ended.
The Warriors continued to dominate the fourth quarter by playing tough defense, playing aggressive and drawing fouls that allowed them to get into the bonus with six minutes left in the game. This helped Yokota keep their big lead as the game came to an end with a score of 97-71.
"We have a lot of new players on our team, so right now we are working on developing chemistry as we prepare to play in future tournaments," Spicer said. "As we play against local Japanese teams, the importance is to learn their culture. They interpret the game differently than we do. Most Japanese teams I have played against are very fundamentally sound. This helps us gain experience as we play elsewhere against other teams."
If anyone is interested in playing for the team, feel free to contact Spicer at 224-3426 or William Richardson at 225-2909. Be aware, that the team is skill-based and try outs are required before joining the team.