The determined, cohesive Ibaraki Robots have entered the second-division playoff picture with a spectacular run in recent weeks.
The Robots are riding a 13-game winning streak, a brilliant stretch that began on March 17 against the Aomori Wat’s (two victories) and continued in succession with wins over the Earthfriends Tokyo Z, Kanazawa Samuraiz, Sendai 89ers, Shinshu Brave Warriors, Fighting Eagles Nagoya and Iwate Big Bulls. Twelve of those wins were a part of two-game series sweeps. The lone exception: A 74-68 decision over the Samuraiz on March 28, when the league schedule had a midweek break from the normal routine and teams faced one foe before returning to the standard two-game set that weekend.
For Ibaraki, the current run includes eight victories decided by 10 or fewer points, including a 65-62 home triumph over the Brave Warriors on April 7 and a 56-53 nailbiter against the visiting Fighting Eagles on April 14. A day later, coach Keita Iwashita’s team demonstrated it can put points on the board in a hurry in a 106-86 win.
“I think everything kind of is falling into place right now and everybody is learning their plays and learning their role within the team,” Robots center Rick Rickert said.