After weeks of absence in the 2020-2021 Japan B. League after he tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Thirdy Ravena on Saturday (December 12) returned to action and was welcomed by a much-needed San-En NeoPhoenix’s win against Hokkaido Levanga, 83-69.
As viewed by basketball fans at the Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center in Sapporo, American-Jamaican Kyle Hunt anchored NeoPhoenix, recording a double-double of 22 points and 11 rebounds, to finally end his team’s eight-game losing streak.
Backstopping Hunt, Serbian import Stevan Jelovac dropped 21 points and 10 boards.
On the other hand, visibly slower than usual, Ravena managed to score 5 points to go with 3 rebounds and 2 assists as coach Branislav Vicentic checked him in at the 3:13 mark of the first quarter.
In the 2nd frame, the visiting San-En pulled away with 10 unanswered points. NeoPhoenix further stretched the lead to 20 points, 50-30, in the 7:08 mark of the 3rd quarter with a trey from Takanobu Nishikawa.
“We feel good. First of all, it was a very important game for us. Finally, we have all our imports together. We’re finally going to practice together, we’re playing good, and we stopped our losing streak,” said San-En NeoPhoenix coach Vicentic, who saw his team’s win-loss record improved to 3-17.
In a losing effort, Levanga’s Jawad Williams top-scored Hokkaido with 15 points and eight assists.
Sorely missing the presence of American import Nick Mayo due to an injury, Levanga dropped to 4-16 in the standings.
To finish their two-game series, San-En and Hokkaido will meet again on Sunday, December 13, at 1:05 PM (Manila time).
San-En vs Hokkaido
The scores: 17-12; 41-28; 63-43; 83-69
NeoPhoenix (83) – Hunt 22, Jelovac 21, Nishikawa 11, Suzuki 9, Ravena 5, Yamamoto 5, Kawashima 4, Terazuno 2, Ota 2, Miljenovic 2
Levanga (69) – Williams 15, Tajima 14, Taylor 9, Nakano 7, Kuzuhara 6, Hashimoto 5, Faye 5, Maki 3, Uchida 3, Tamaki 2, Sakurai 0