Exciting Wins for Japan in FIBA Asia Cup 2025 Qualifying Round 1 Window 1

Good visibility for the Paris Olympics.

The Japan men’s basketball team won two consecutive games against the Guam men’s national team and the men’s China national team in the “FIBA Asia Cup 2025 Qualifying Round 1 Window 1”.

This is the first actual match since last summer’s World Cup, and NBA players Yuta Watanabe and Rui Hachimura, as well as University of Nebraska player Keio Tominaga, will not be joining the team. Moreover, the B League was in season, so there wasn’t enough time to prepare.

Despite this, the team won the match against Guam on February 22nd, 77-56. It wasn’t a bad start for a restart, but Yuki Kawamura said, “We weren’t close to the basketball we were aiming for.” This is probably because they were left dissatisfied with the game, as they ended the first half with a score of 35-36. Ahead of the Paris Olympics, athletes are looking at themselves from a higher perspective.

On the 25th, three days after the match against Guam, Japan, led by head coach Tom Horvath, clashed with China. It is an official match (major international tournament) higher than the FIBA ​​Asia Cup (including qualifying rounds), and it is an opponent against which they have not won in 1988, the last time being at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Ariake Coliseum, the venue for the match, was painted red, the Japanese team color. Amidst the excitement at home, Japan’s starting five included Kawamura, Shin Hiejima, Yudai Baba, Yutaka Yoshii, and Josh Hawkinson.

After Japan conceded the first goal, Baba made a 3-point shot. However, from there on, China scored points in a row and the team started to chase.

Looking back on the early offense and defense, Kawamura said, “I think we were able to create a flow for our offense, but China didn’t allow us to get any shots, and China made solid decisions.” Soichiro Inoue made 3 points in a row to make it 14-14, and Yuki Togashi also hit a 3-pointer in the final minutes, ending the first quarter with a one-point lead at 19-20.

The second quarter started with Baba’s 3 points, but they were able to widen the lead to 22-30. From here on, Hawkinson showed his presence on offense and defense, and Tavesumi scored valuable points. Although they succeeded in reversing the game at one point, the first half ended with the score tied at 38-38.

Yuki Kawamura, named in the starting five

In the second half, the score started with Hiejima’s layup shot. Thanks to Hawkinson’s free throws and Togashi’s 3-point shot, Japan had a nine-point lead at 55-46. However, with a minute and a half remaining, they continued to concede points, and the score was 55-51 going into the final 10 minutes.

In the decisive fourth quarter, Baba’s aggressive play was reflected in the score. The basis for this was his accurate assessment of the situation. “After watching the play in the first half, my opponent started to be wary of 3-pointers, so I found space in the paint area. This is where I am good at, and I was able to make calm decisions by watching how the defense was defending. ” says Baba. No. 18, who induced fouls from the opponent and made sure to sink free throws, contributed to maintaining the lead.

Furthermore, Kawamura scored three points in a row, and Hawkinson hit a dunk. They never allowed a lead after the third quarter and defeated China 76-73.

Hawkinson’s bouncy words echoed through the enthusiastic Ariake Coliseum.

“I’m honestly happy. All the players stepped up and we were able to grab the win. I’m really happy that we were able to finish it off with two consecutive wins.”

Josh Hawkinson struggles offensively and defensively

A historic victory, coming just before the Paris Olympics, is definitely worth it. Baba, who scored 24 points, the most for both teams, expressed his honest joy at the press conference.

“Tom-san lost to us in his first match, so I was very happy that we were able to fight back.I think we were able to win because everyone on the team played physically. We were able to win because we played for 40 minutes, not 35 or 38. I think it was a team victory.”

Captain Togashi also smiled in the interview area.

“I remember how badly we lost in the first two games under Tom’s system. I think we were able to show everyone how much we’ve grown since then.”

On this day, he played for 12 minutes and 40 seconds and recorded 8 points and 1 assist. When asked about his own performance, his expression shows a look of understanding.

“In terms of bringing the flow to the team, including in the first quarter, I was able to connect as a substitute player.I think I was able to do that.To be honest, I think there were some shots that were made. I was able to finish off the shots that I should have made as a team, so I think I was able to make good baskets within the flow of the ball.”

Hiejima, a 33-year-old veteran, had five goals and two assists in 22 minutes and 11 seconds of playing time. “I don’t really feel like I was able to find a flow during the time I was playing,” he says, giving a harsh assessment of his own performance. Still, he feels satisfied with the team’s performance.

“I’m glad we were able to come through with a solid victory.At the start, we got into the opponent’s rhythm, but we made adjustments from there and were able to move to our own pace without panicking.We can handle any situation. That’s the part where I gained confidence during the World Cup and am doing well.Furthermore, I feel that I have grown in the fact that I can create a rhythm no matter who is playing.”

Kawamura has the same thing in common: He looks closely at his own play. He played 27 minutes and 20 seconds as No. 5 and had 12 points and three assists.

“Personally, this was a game that I regret a lot. As a point guard, I had to create the flow of the game as a starter, and as a point guard, I was allowed to run by the opponent. I also need to reflect on my shooting accuracy.”

When asked about the reason for his victory, he mentioned mental health. Two words appeared.

“I think there was a strong image of China after not winning in 1988, but after changing to Tom’s system, we were able to achieve results at the World Cup.We had to win against China as well. I think a strong sense of belief and pride were connected to each and every play. I think we have to fight with a challenger spirit, but also with the pride that we are strong.”

Needless to say, the Paris Olympics are ahead of this mental set. Based on the first quarter of the match against China, Kawamura said the following.

“The opponents we will be competing against at the Paris Olympics will not be easy. We need to create a form that will allow us to always move in our direction from the start.”

Coach Horvath also praised the victory, saying, “Winning against a high-quality team increases everyone’s confidence.” Then, don’t forget to give your assignments.

“Today, my 3-point success rate was 34 percent. This is still not enough. My goal at the Paris Olympics is to get to the top eight, so I need to get to 40 percent. I want to improve that percentage.”

Yudai Baba scored 24 points, the most for both teams.

Baba, who was the driving force behind the defeat of China, spoke in a calm tone.

“In order to express my play in games like this, I have been practicing with coach Tom, and I have been practicing since entering the B League.I hope to be able to show off an even more refined version of myself at the Paris Olympics. Masu”

Captain Togashi also speaks from a higher perspective.

“My current goal is to be able to win in Asia as a matter of course and compete against the rest of the world. I want to aim high.”

The next activity is scheduled for an international warm-up match in June. Coach Horvath praised the players’ performance, saying, “As I said to everyone after the game, I will definitely invite today’s members to the national team’s training camp again.” The competition for a spot on the roster for the Paris Olympics is becoming more intense, increasing the team’s chances.

Note: The first round of qualifying for the FIBA ​​Asia Cup 2025 will be contested in six groups of four teams, with Japan in the same group as China, Guam, and Mongolia. The top two teams from each group will qualify. The third place team will be in the second round, and he will split into two groups and play a round robin, with the top two teams in each group qualifying.

After two games in Window 1, Japan is in first place with consecutive wins. 2nd place is China with 1 win and 1 loss, 3rd place is Guam with 1 win and 1 loss, and 4th place is Mongolia with consecutive losses (2nd and 3rd place rankings are based on point difference).

2024-03-06 01:02:59
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