FIBA World Cup

‘On everybody’s radar’: Japan locks up Asian Olympic spot

Philip Matel

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‘On everybody’s radar’: Japan locks up Asian Olympic spot

PARIS-BOUND. Japan celebrates its Olympic-clinching FIBA World Cup run.


Japan says it ‘showed the world’ what it can do after finishing as the best performing Asian team to secure an outright berth in the 2024 Paris Olympics

MANILA, Philippines — Japan wrapped up its 2023 FIBA World Cup stint on a high note — clinching the lone outright Asian spot for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The Akatsuki Five emerged as the best performing Asian country with a 3-2 record, a feat that secured them an Olympic berth, following an 80-71 triumph over Cape Verde on the last day of their campaign on Saturday, September 2, in Okinawa. 

“We showed the world what we can do and now we’re on everybody’ radar, we’re on everybody’s map so that’s a big step,” said Japan coach Tom Hovasse.

Japan – which also scored breakthrough victories against Finland and Venezuela, teams both higher-ranked than the World Cup co-host – beat out other Asian Olympic hopefuls China, Lebanon, Iran, Jordan, and the Philippines. 

“We gained the respect of our opponents and we won three games which is massive,” said Hovasse. “This could be a big step for Japan basketball. Now we just have to keep moving, upward and onward.”

Despite the absence of Los Angeles Laker Rui Hachimura, the Land of the Rising Sun got a much needed scoring boost from naturalized player Josh Hawkinson.

Hawkinson, who plays locally in the Japan B. League, averaged 21 points and 10.8 rebounds per game through five games played.

NBA sniper Yuta Watanabe of the Phoenix Suns also pumped in 14.8 points and 6.2 boards per contest.

Japan will play in the Olympiad for the second consecutive edition, having hosted the Tokyo Olympics, where it finished 11th out of 12 participants.

“These are the moments where you really get a chance to prove yourself but also improve yourself. That’s the mindset all of our guys have,” said Hovasse. 

“We’ve got some young guys who really stepped up. I’m just excited, grateful and thankful for this opportunity. I’m really looking forward to the Paris Olympics.” –

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