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Japan Men's Basketball Squad Unveils its Roster for Paris Olympics

NBA forward Rui Hachimura is back on the national basketball team for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, helping raise hopes of success in Paris.



Rising stars Keisei Tominaga (30) and Yuki Kawamura (5) are two of the 12 players named to Japan's Olympic basketball squad. (©SANKEI)

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Heading into the upcoming Paris Olympics, the Japan men's basketball national team looks a lot like it did during the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

Eight of 12 players from last summer's squad will suit up for Akatsuki Japan at the Olympics. Head coach Tom Hovasse's squad was officially announced on Monday, July 8.

The four additions to the squad are Los Angeles Lakers power forward Rui Hachimura, who competed in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics; point guard Kai Toews of the B.League's Alvark Tokyo; University of Hawaii small forward Akira Jacobs and center Hugh Watanabe, who played the past three seasons for the B.League's Ryukyu Golden Kings and signed with the Shinshu Brave Warriors in July. Watanabe was on Team Japan for Tokyo 2020 but didn't appear in its three games.

Basketball World Cup participants Yudai Nishida, Shuta Hara, Soichiro Inoue and Koya Kawamata, all of whom play for B.League clubs, were replaced on the roster by the quartet listed above.

Head coach Tom Hovasse (KYODO)

Difficult Decisions to Finalize the Basketball Team's Roster

The process of settling on the final list of players was an arduous project, according to Hovasse, who guided the Japan women's team to a runner-up finish in the Tokyo Games.

"Narrowing the field down from about 40 players to 12 over the past two months has been a really difficult process," Hovasse said. "I want to thank all the players for their hard work and dedication."

Added Hovasse, a former Penn State and NBA player and a JBL star in the 1990s, "Now that we have 12 players, we are looking forward to competing at the Paris 2024 Olympics with this group."

Top row (from left): Yuki Togashi, Akira Jacobs, Yuki Kawamura, Makoto Hiejima, Kai Toews and Rui Hachimura. Bottom row (from left): Yuta Watanabe, Yudai Baba, Josh Hawkinson, Keisei Tominaga, Hugh Watanabe and Hirotaka Yoshii. (©JAPAN BASKETBALL)

Japan, ranked 26th in the world, has a youthful, versatile roster for the Paris Games. The average height: 193.7 cm; the average age: 26.4 years old.

Roster returnees from the Basketball World Cup include B.League star guards Yuki Togashi, Yuki Kawamura and Makoto Hiejima, free agent forwards Yuta Watanabe and Yudai Baba, Sunrockers Shibuya big man Josh Hawkinson, a naturalized Japanese citizen, small forward Hirotaka Yoshii and sharpshooter Keisei Tominaga, who wrapped up his college career at the University of Nebraska during the 2024 NCAA Tournament.


Selected to Lead Team Japan

Togashi, one of the enduring stars of Japanese pro hoops and one the faces of the B.League since its inception in 2016, was chosen as team captain for the Olympics.

"I am very honored to be selected as a member of Japan's men's national team for the Paris 2024 Olympics," Togashi said on Monday.

Looking ahead to the 12-team Olympic tournament, Togashi said he will give his best effort as Japan seeks to achieve its goal of reaching the quarterfinals. 

"I would also like to express my gratitude to all of you who have been involved in the national basketball team," said Togashi, a dynamic playmaker who helped lead the Jets to the East Asia Super League and All Japan Basketball Championship (aka Emperor's Cup) titles in 2024.

He added, "I would like to fight on the backs of everyone who has been involved with basketball on the national team. Please support me."

Continue reading the full story on SportsLook.


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