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Basketball World Cup: Australia Trounces Japan in a Final First-Round Match

Japan faced a 22-point deficit entering the second half of the Basketball World Cup contest. With the win, Australia advanced to the second round.

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Yuta Watanabe
Japan's Yuta Watanabe grabs a rebound against Australia in a 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup Group E game on August 29 at Okinawa Arena. (Issei Kato/REUTERS)

Read the full story on SportsLook - Basketball World Cup: Australia Trounces Japan in Teams' Final First-Round Game

OKINAWA CITY ― Australia led by as many as 27 points late in the third quarter against Japan in a FIBA Basketball World Cup Group E match on Tuesday, August 29.

The world's third-ranked men's national team, known as the Boomers to its rabid fans, never trailed and recorded a 109-89 win to improve to 2-1 at the 32-nation tournament. 

In a high-paced game, Australia poured in a combined 62 points in the second and third quarters.

Japan faced an 87-70 deficit entering the final period. 

Coach Tom Hovasse's squad pulled within 93-79 on a Yuta Watanabe 3-pointer from the right corner with 6:15 to play. And a Josh Hawkinson jump hook made it 97-84 with 4:03 remaining at Okinawa Arena. 

Australia wouldn't let Japan, which erased an 18-point third-quarter deficit to beat Finland two nights earlier, get any closer the rest of the way.

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As a result, Australia coach Brian Goorjian's squad booked a spot in the tournament's second round, which gets underway on Friday, September 1.

In a determined performance, world No 3 Australia bounced back from an 85-82 loss to Germany on Sunday.

Yuta Watanabe (12) salutes the Okinawa Arena crowd after the game. (KYODO)

"Obviously, Australia's a better team, but in the first half they outworked us, cutting [to the basket], getting all the rebounds, getting all 50-50 balls," Watanabe told a news conference. "That can't happen, [and] that's what we talked about at halftime. And in the second half we did what we are supposed to do."

Japan outscored Australia 54-52 in the second half.

"I'm really proud of our effort and everything," added Watanabe, "but we've still got to do it for 40 minutes. Twenty minutes is not enough."

Meanwhile, Japan (1-2), which is ranked 36th, will next play in the classification round (17th-32nd place) on Thursday.

Continue reading the full story on SportsLook.

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Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and X (formerly Twitter) @ed_odeven