It has been three years in the making.
Actually, It only took three years.
The goal was to win a championship in five years but The Link Tochigi Brex found a way to 'breakthrough' like its slogan suggest and win its first-ever JBL title.
In what would be considered shocking, the Brex beat the Aisin Seahorses tonight in the third game of the finals to complete its sweep with a 71-63 victory at Tokyo's Yoyogi National Gymnasium.
In a game that was close throughout, the Seahorses showed their pride to try and stave off the challengers. The Seahorses went to their strength as they attacked inside to establish themselves early in the game.
Tochigi's imports struggled and so did the team as they allowed Aisin to score off turnovers in the first quarter. As a result, the Seahorses took a 20-10 lead.
In the second quarter, Tochigi starts to gain moment as its zone defense begin to function. Tochigi forces turnovers and lock down the interior to limit Aisin's scoring. A byproduct was limiting regular season MVP Kosuke Takeuchi to 9 points on only 7 shots. The Brex also got big contributions from its bench as SG Ken Takeda (11 points) connected on big mid range shots to close the half.
In the second half, Tochigi turns its defense up to bring the game to a stand still. Ace guard Takuya Kawamura (27 points), center Scott Merritt and Takeda connect on their shots to cut Aisin's lead down to one point to enter halftime.
In the final quarter, Aisin G Shinsuke Kashiwagi steps up to make big threes and Aisin creates a 5 point cushion. However, like it has throughout the series, rallied to bring the game to within 3 points. Kawamura then takes over again like he has done all season to hit a crucial three pointer with six seconds remaining to knot the game at a tie. The game goes into overtime.
In overtime, Tochigi gained an advantage early with Kawamura's fourth three of the game. The Brex gained a 8 point lead and did not relinquish it ntil the final buzzer. As the buzzer sounded, the players cheered and showed their jubilance in landing their first title. And former NBA guard Yuta Tabuse was awarded the Finals MVP.
The game was an example of how a team can win based on sheer desire. For Aisin, it must have been a frustrating experience as they were turnover prone throughout the series.
Aisin turned the over a total of 27 times, and they also had 20 in game 2. The Seahorses are now left with reassessing its situation and assets as they work to regain their throne. However, Head Coach Kimikazu Suzuki is optimistic in regaining its seat at the throne.
'By finding a team that can beat Aisin, we have found a new challenge in fighting for a title again. I believe this is going to help in improving basketball in Japan. We are very disappointed with the results, but I think it was a great experience for us' said, Suzuki.
The crowning of Tochigi brings in a new era for the JBL in which an all-professional team that is loaded with youth is now the champion.
The odds were against the Brex, but they found a way to break through to its first and perhaps many more titles for the time to come...