Thirdy Ravena's return to the San-En NeoPhoenix of Japan's B.League wasn't enough as they lost 110-71 against a surging Ryukyu team Wednesday at the Okinawa City Gymnasium in Japan.
Ravena, who suited up for the first time in nearly three months after recovering from a fractured finger, started and logged 11 points on 5-for-14 shooting, two rebounds, an assist and a steal in 30 minutes of action.
San-En couldn't capitalize on Ravena's play and slid to 11-38 for the season after dropping its fourth straight game. San-En had 6-15 record without its Filipino import and played without Serbian reinforcement Stevan Jelovac against Ryukyu.
The Golden Kings, which shot 52 percent from the field, fortified its hold of the West District top seed with an eighth straight win to improve to 36-10. Seven players scored in double figures, led by Jack Cooley's 16-point, 11-rebound double-double.
San-En imports Kyle Hunt and Nenad Miljenovic paced the team with 17 and 16, respectively. Hunt tacked on 12 rebounds, two steals and two blocks to his line.
The NeoPhoenix kept things interesting in the first half before losing steam. After falling 25-13 in the first quarter, San-En used a strong rally to cut the lead to three, 36-33, past the midway mark of the second period.
But a hot-shooting Ryukyu team doused the run with a 12-0 run spiked by three triples from Naoki Tashiro and Takumi Ishizaki to give the Golden Kings a 48-33 lead at the half.
Ryukyu shot nine 3s in the first half and went 19-for-36 (52 percent) overall against San-En.
In the second half, Ryukyu continued its assault and even padded the lead to 40 at one point as San-En's porous defense failed to stop the Golden Kings.
With 11 games to go, San-En is all but eliminated from playoff contention. Only the top three teams from each district, along with two other teams with the best records, can gain entry into the quarterfinals.
San-En can still cobble together a respectable finish beginning Saturday, when the team hosts the Kawasaki Brave Thunders (33-15) in the first of a two-game homestand.
The NeoPhoenix will also debut limited edition blue jerseys that the team says is a nod to the uniform colors of Ravena's Ateneo Blue Eagles and Gilas Pilipinas.
Ryukyu 110: Cooley 16, Funyu 15, Imamura 15, Tashiro 13, Evans 12, Tillie 11, Mitsuhara 10, Kishimoto 9, Ishizaki 9, Maki 0.
San-En 71: Hunt 17, Miljenovic 16, Ravena 11, Tsuya 10, Suzuki T. 7, Okada 5, Terazono 3, Ota 2, Yamamoto 0, S. Suzuki 0.
Quarters: 25-13, 48-33, 83-58, 110-71.