Basketball: Hiejima leads Brex to 1st title in 5 years

© Kyodo News

Makoto Hiejima scored 24 points as Utsunomiya Brex overcame a late surge from the Ryukyu Golden Kings to win the B-League finals 2-0 with an 82-75 Game 2 win Sunday.

The title was Brex's first since they were crowned champions in the league's inaugural 2016-2017 season.

Utsunomiya clinched the best-of-three series before 6,874 at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, with Hiejima putting an exclamation point on the victory with a buzzer-beating layup.

The Okinawa-based Golden Kings, who finished top of the league in the regular season, trailed from the opening minutes until the final minutes of the third quarter

An Allen Durham field goal tied it 52-52 with 1 minute, 49 seconds left in the quarter. A turnover on the inbound pass and a Dwayne Evans bucket gave Ryukyu their first lead seconds later, but it proved to be short-lived as Brex regained their defensive intensity and the lead.

Keita Imamura's sharpshooting kept it close in the final seconds, but there was no denying Hiejima and Brex.

"I'm amazingly happy. I had some bitter memories from this stage last year and didn't want to mess it up with lousy play," Hiejima said, referencing last year's finals defeat to the Chiba Jets.

"This was a season in which not only me but the team as well really grew up, and that makes me happy."

Hiejima had four rebounds, two assists and two steals, while Josh Scott scored 13 points with 10 boards, three assists and a steal.

Imamura led Ryukyu with 18 points, while Evans scored 16.

"Ryukyu is such a great team, and it was a joy getting to compete against them," Hiejima said.