Read the full story on SportsLook - Japan Concludes FIBA World Cup Qualifying with Fifth Straight Win
A strong start was a good omen for the Japan men's national team in a FIBA World Cup Asian qualifier on Sunday, February 26.
Japan jumped out to a 13-point advantage after the opening quarter and held on for a 95-72 victory over Bahrain in the teams’ final 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup Asian qualifier in Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture.
Power forward Josh Hawkinson, who plays for the B.League's Shinshu Brave Warriors, paced Japan with 22 points on 8-for-13 shooting and 10 rebounds. The naturalized Japanese citizen, a former Washington State University standout, added four assists, two steals and a block.
Yutaro Suda poured in 20 points, knocking down 6 of 9 3-point shots. Hirotaka Yoshii and Yuki Kawamura each scored 13 points. Yokohama B-Corsairs star Kawamura came off the bench and added nine assists and three steals in 17-plus productive minutes. Fellow point guard Yuki Togashi finished with eight points and six assists.
Despite the final margin of victory, Japan head coach Tom Hovasse said the score wasn't a true measure of the game.
"It was a grind-out tough game," Hovasse told reporters. "And I didn't feel that we played our best but I looked at the stats and nothing was really bad."
He added: "It was a test today, for sure, and I found in these battles where you are really getting tested, it's good for a coach to see which players step up and which players are kind of not doing their thing right now."
Japan Finds Scoring Rhythm in First Half
Bahrain pulled within 10-7 after a Devon Dwayne Chism layup with 6:36 remaining in the opening quarter.
Japan followed with an 11-0 run capped by a Hawkinson layup to make it 21-7. The visitors then cut the margin to 24-18 before Japan answered with eight more points over the final two minutes of the first period.
Bahrain trailed 51-35 at halftime and 73-57 entering the fourth quarter.
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Author: Ed Odeven