It was a hard-fought series.
Three-time PBA Best Import awardee and former Meralco Bolt Allen Durham may have been felled with the runner-up curse during his run in Asia’s oldest play-for-pay league, but he certainly has gotten rid of his demons as the Ryukyu Golden Kings swept the Chiba Jets, 2-0, to win the Japan B.League championship on Sunday.
After a panic-inducing 96-93 double overtime win in Game 1 on Saturday, the Golden Kings took care of business in Game 2 for an 88-73 rout to seal the title.
Durham was especially impactful in the finals, averaging 19.5 points and 10.5 rebounds for Ryukyu in the best-of-three affair against Chiba, which touted the league’s best record during the regular season. Durham was named Championship MVP, the award equal to the Finals MVP in the NBA and the PBA. Meanwhile, Golden King guard Koh Flippin also won a special MVP award for his outstanding performance in the finale.
Jack Cooley, Durham’s teammate and co-import, said they had to give out their best and not surrender any inch to Chiba. Cooley contributed a double-double of 19 points and 15 rebounds in Game 2.
“We needed to win it today. Chiba is such a great team and the season they had was absolutely incredible. We needed to play our absolute best every possession to beat them,” said Cooley.
UP Fighting Maroons alum Carl Tamayo—who’s also part of the Golden Kings as the Asian import—is bringing home his first Japan B.League title, just like Durham.
The Golden Kings’ title win also erases the pain of last season, where they finished as runner-ups after falling to the Utsunomiya Brex.
(Editor's note: This article has been updated to include the title of Durham's award.)