Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hamamatsu wins the bj League

While I was on my recent trip, the bj League held its playoffs over a two-week period. The quarterfinals took place on the weekend of May 15th with the top team in each conference hosting the 4th-place finisher while the 2-seed welcomed the third-place team for a two-game series.

What is interesting about this format is that if the teams split these two games, a 10-minute "mini-game" is held to determine which team advances. In three cases, this wasn't required as the home team won both games. The Tokyo Apache, who finished fourth, were summarily dismissed by the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix while Ryukyu and Osaka won in the West. Only Sendai did not manage the sweep, splitting with Niigata, who went on to win the mini-game and send the 89ers home early.

I'd just like to say what a stupid system. This league plays 52 games and allows a team to be eliminated based on one quarter of play? How about a best-of-three, with the first game on Friday night? Bah, it doesn't really matter, but the Sendai fans got ripped off with this system, which renders the regular season almost pointless. Then again, so do most playoff schemes if you think about it.

Anyway, the Final Four took place in Tokyo on May 22nd and 23rd with one-game championships in each conference and then a consolation game and final on Sunday. Sadly, none of the games were competitive, so I didn't regret missing it. In the East, Hamamatsu beat Niigata by 27 while white-hot Osaka (who finished 16-2 to finish first in the West) beat Ryukyu by 19 points.

This set up a final between the top team in each conference, but it was not even close. Hamamatsu won 84-56 to take their first league title with a combined 45-11 record. The good news is that over 8,500 fans saw the game, so perhaps the league can continue to expand in the years to come. I'll still try to see some games in other locations and will keep you all posted as usual.



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