On Wednesday, March 15, the Hiroshima Dragonflies secured a 102-95 victory against the Kyoto Hannaryz in the Japan B. League, with Kai Sotto playing a crucial role in the win. Sotto's impact was felt at the Hiroshima Sun Plaza Hall.

Kai Sotto
Photo: Japan B.League

The game marked Sotto's second appearance in a Dragonflies uniform, and the towering 7-foot-3 center certainly made an impact on the court. Sotto recorded a team-high 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting, along with eight rebounds and one steal. His strong performance helped Hiroshima hold off a late surge by Matthew Wright and the Hannaryz.

Wright, a former Phoenix Fuel Masters player, had a red-hot shooting night as he shot an impressive 7-of-9 from beyond the arc and recorded a game-high 26 points. The Filipino import also contributed eight assists, two rebounds, and two steals.

In his post-game interview, Sotto lauded the collective effort of his team, acknowledging that "the whole team played well." He further gave credit to his coaching staff and teammates, expressing his happiness over the home game win.

Kyoto struggled early in the fourth quarter, trailing Hiroshima by 13 points, 64-77. However, Wright hit two three-pointers in the first three minutes of the quarter, helping Kyoto close the gap to a two-possession game, 81-75.

The Hannaryz even tied the game at 95-all with only 1:37 remaining. But Naoto Tsuji, who finished with 13 points, responded with a cold-blooded triple in the next possession, putting the Dragonflies back in control.

Kyoto had multiple chances to catch up to Hiroshima in the final minutes of the game. However, Jarred Uthoff, who had a difficult shooting night from deep, missed three critical three-pointers in the final minute of the game, allowing Hiroshima to secure the victory.

In addition to Sotto, Hiroshima saw five other players score in double figures. Kerry Blackshear Jr. added 17 points, while Ryo Terashima and Nick Mayo each contributed 16 points. Tsuji and Dwayne Evans II added 13 and 11 points, respectively.

On the other hand, Check Diallo led Kyoto's scoring effort, recording 21 points and 10 rebounds.

With the win, Hiroshima snapped its two-game losing streak and improved its record to 29-11, while Kyoto moved down to a 16-24 slate.

Elsewhere in the league, Carl Tamayo made his debut for the Ryukyu Golden Kings in their 79-74 win over the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins. Tamayo, who had previously ridden the bench in Ryukyu's victory over Hiroshima, contributed five points, one rebound, and one steal in nine minutes and 29 seconds of action.

With their eighth consecutive victory, the Ryukyu Golden Kings improved their record to 31-9, while the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins fell to 27-13.

Other games played on March 15th saw the Sunrockers Shibuya defeat the San-En NeoPhoenix, 81-78, with Thirdy Ravena scoring 10 points, Dwight Ramos' Chiba Jets defeat Levanga Hokkaido, 94-80, and the Shinshu Brave Warriors beat the Toyama Grouses, 80-66, with Matt Aquino scoring three points. Kiefer Ravena's Osaka Evessa also secured a win against the Shiga Lakes, 101-71, despite being held scoreless on 0-of-8 shooting.