Japan qualifies for Paris Olympics after finishing FIBA World Cup as top Asian team

Japan qualifies for Paris Olympics after finishing FIBA World Cup as top Asian team
via ShanghaiEye, Xie Feng
Carl Samson
September 4, 2023
Japan’s men’s basketball team has qualified for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris after beating Cape Verde on Saturday night.
The winning game: Akatsuki Japan, led by head coach Tom Hovasse, defeated the Blue Sharks 80-71. This was their third win in the Okinawa tournament after Finland and Venezuela.
What the team is saying: Hovasse said the fourth quarter was “hectic and could have been disastrous,” but he trusted the team. Joshua Hawkinson emerged on top with 29 points, including a crucial late three-pointer, while Keisei Tominaga contributed 22 points.
“They believed in themselves and their teammates,” Hovasse said, as per AFP. “That’s a big thing of getting the boat moving in the right direction.”
Yuta Watanabe, the team’s lone player from the NBA, averaged 14.8 points and 6.2 rebounds in five games. He previously considered retiring from the team if they did not make it to the Olympics.
“I was really worried about [having] such a big mouth,” Watanabe posted on X, formerly Twitter, after Saturday’s victory. “Everyone helped me. I will continue as a [national team] representative until I die. Thank you for your continued support!”
Why this matters: This is the first time Japan’s men’s basketball team has qualified for the Olympics since 1976. They competed in 2020 due to their status as host, and they also qualified for the World Cup this way.
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