The Ryukyu Golden Kings drew first blood in the B-League finals on Saturday, pulling away for a 96-93 double-overtime win over the Chiba Jets.
Bidding for their first championship, last season's runners-up took Game 1 in the best-of-three series at Yokohama Arena on the back of a 26-point, 14-rebound performance from American big man Allen Durham.
Jets point guard Yuki Togashi kept his team in the contest down the stretch, scoring six of his game-high 31 points in the second overtime period. The Japan international also dished a game-high eight assists.
The Okinawa-based Golden Kings led late in regulation before Chiba forward Vic Law sank a contested three-pointer with 10 seconds left to tie the game 77-77 and send it to overtime.
The first overtime ended 82-82 when Chiba's John Mooney missed a long-range heave for the win following a turnover by Ryukyu swingman Keita Imamura, who threw the ball away after turning down a shot attempt. Imamura made amends with six points and an assist in the second overtime.
"I couldn't bear it if we'd lost because of that (turnover)," said Imamura, who logged 14 points and five assists for the game. "I played aggressively in the second overtime in order not to finish with any regrets."
Durham credited the traveling Ryukyu fans for getting the team over the line by creating a home atmosphere inside Yokohama Arena.
"They're really the ones who led us and helped us get the victory tonight," Durham said. "We came out and got Game 1, now we're going to rest up and try to finish it tomorrow."
Game 2 is scheduled for Sunday at the same venue, which will also host Game 3 on Tuesday, if required.