BASKETBALL | Japan’s rally falls short in FIBA ​​Asia Cup quarterfinals against Australia

Japanese Racing Association

The Japan men’s national basketball team faltered in their spirited comeback in the fourth quarter against Australia in the quarterfinals of the FIBA ​​Asia Cup on Thursday night, July 21.

The Akatsuki Five, who were 21 points down at the start of the fourth quarter, brought 31 points to the board in the last 10 minutes in Jakarta. But it wasn’t enough to overcome a poor start in a 99-85 loss to the reigning tournament champions.

Rising star Keisei Tominaga led Japan’s resurgence with a sensational 33-point performance. The University of Nebraska guard, entering his junior season this fall, buried 8 of 15 3-point shots and nabbed five rebounds.

Tominaga and his teammates relied on 3-point shooting to spark their comeback attempt in the closing stages when they landed eight shots from angle.

“I loved what we did. I liked our attitude,” Japan coach Tom Hovasse later told reporters.

In the semi-finals on Saturday, Australia meets New Zealand, who defeated South Korea 88-78 in the second quarter-finals on Thursday. In the other semi-final, Jordan meets Lebanon in the Indonesian capital.

Japan drew within 15 on a Tominaga 3-pointer at 7:23 to play in fourth place. Moments later, teammate Yutaro Suda scored a 3 to cut the Boomers’ lead to 80-68.

Japan pared it to 90-78 on another Tominaga 3 to play 4:31, then Soichiro Inoue, who had 11 points and six rebounds, chipped away at a shot from beyond the arc to pull Japan into the single digits (90 -81). the last time, with 4:01 remaining.

“I’m very proud of the team and the players,” Hovasse said in his opening speech at the post-game press conference. “You never gave up. There were times when Australia kept getting offensive rebounds and we missed shots and there were a lot of times we could just stop playing but we didn’t and we made it an interesting game.

He continued: “We could have reduced it to seven points at one point and Australia, they have to be given credit. They hit some big shots to keep the lead.”

Japan made 20 of 43 3-point attempts. Australia converted 16 out of 34.

The boomers dominate inside

Australia overtook Japan 51-29, including 16-5 on offensive glass.

The 7-foot-1 (216 cm) center Thon Maker, a first-round draft pick for the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks in 2016, advanced Australia with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Maker also dished out five assists.

Without NBA free agent Yuta Watanabe, who sprained his right ankle in Tuesday’s game against the Philippines, Japan were missing a key player from their starting lineup.

The Boomers took advantage of this disparity, beating Japan 31-13 before the break.

The 206 cm tall Watanabe, Japan’s tallest player, averaged 15.3 points, a team-best 8.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists in four Asian Cup games.

“I think their lack of size on the defensive sometimes hurts them,” Australia coach Mike Kelly said of Japan.

Australian power forward Rhys Vague, who plays for the B.League second division Kagawa Five Arrows, finished the tournament with 19 points in 7-for-8 shooting, Samson James Fröling added 15 and Keanu Pinder scored nine. Mitchell McCarron had a solid all-around performance with seven points, seven rebounds and nine assists, while Tyrese Proctor also had seven points.

Yuki Togashi contributed for Japan with 14 points and five assists. Yuki Kawamura provided five points, six assists and three steals.

Australia extends superior leadership

Australia took a 15-3 lead to open the game.

Japan went into the second quarter at 33:22.

Tominaga carried the top scorer chart for the Akatsuki Five early on, scoring 17 of the team’s first 25 points.

Hovasse was impressed with Tominaga’s offensive performance. After the game, he summed it up like this: “If he bursts into flames, holy man, oh man. …I’m really excited to see how it grows.”

At halftime Tominaga was 4 of 8 from 3 point range. He had 17 points left at the break as Australia led 49-34.

Hovasse tried to light his players at halftime.

“I was a bit excited,” he later said, laughing. “It wasn’t about Xs and Os at all, it was about ending this game with pride and ending it the way we can play.”

He added: “I think they responded to that. That was a fun second half.”

Tominaga jumps back

After a frustrating zero-point (0v5 shooting) game against the Philippines on Tuesday, when Japan needed to win to secure a place in the quarterfinals, Tominaga recovered and showed an aggressive attitude in offense.

He later described how he approached the quarter-final showdown with Australia.

“I wasn’t nervous,” Tominaga said. “There wasn’t any pressure in terms of my game but yeah the last time I stepped on the pitch I couldn’t help much with my shooting but after that I changed my attitude and honestly it was big. …. It was really refreshing and nice to feel that I had played my part.”

Fröling was Australia’s top scorer (15 points) in the first half. Maker, who won the opening pick against Japanese center Luke Evans, had seven points and nine rebounds in the first two quarters.

Immediately after Japan’s elimination from the tournament, Hovasse focused on the positive.

“There are some young people who have stepped up, so we’re finding pieces of the puzzle,” he said.

“I think it was a successful tournament for us,” concluded the coach.


Author: Ed Odeven

Follow Ed on JAPAN Forward [Japan Sports Notebook] here Sundays, in [Odds and Evens] here during the week and Twitter @ed_odeven, and find him on JAPAN Forward special sports website, Sports Look.


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