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Japan basketball 'on the map' after qualifying for Paris Olympics

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36 Comments
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A+, Japan. Here's hoping you win it all.

2 ( +10 / -8 )

I really hope that when they play in Paris that Hachimura is left off the team. But of course he won't and he will be the main attraction, even though he didn't put in the hard work to get them into the Olympics! Kudos to the players that showed up, including Watanabe, who also plays in the NBA!

1 ( +5 / -4 )

It's interesting that in basketball and rugby, Japan's best players aren't actually Japanese.

How do the nationalists feel about that

I think you need to update yourself about the differences between ethnicity and nationality.

Your ignorance shows through in posts like this!

ALL the players are Japanese!

-3 ( +14 / -17 )

Congrats to Akatsuki Japan! Brilliant performances throughout the championship - and to win qualification to the Olympics shows just how strong Japanese basketball has become.

If this inspires Japanese kids to pick up a basketball and join a team, there is no limit to how strong Japan will be in 10 years time!

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Congratulations to them! Job well done. Good luck in Paris!

1 ( +5 / -4 )

It's interesting that in basketball and rugby, Japan's best players aren't actually Japanese.

How do the nationalists feel about that

Some Akatsuki Japan and Brave Blossoms members may not hold a Japanese passport, but they are entitled to play under the rules. ie residency for 3 years.

Most other teams in rugby and Basketball have members playing under residential rules, unfair to single out Japan.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

The 4th quarter was getting stressing as Cap Verde was slowly back but fortunately the team finished the job.

Basket venues are gonna be crowded after that

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I didn't know such a thing as residential rules exist. I thought in the Olympics athletes compete representing the country of their nationality. What’s the point of winning a gold by hiring foreign talents?

1 ( +10 / -9 )

Congratulations to the basketball team. A great result and good for the youngsters coming up. That they managed this without filling the roster with imported foreign players like the rugby team is even better.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

If this inspires Japanese kids to pick up a basketball and join a team, there is no limit to how strong Japan will be in 10 years time!

They have to get rid of "mini" basketball for elementary school kids!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

But you're wrong

My mistake, I was referring to the basketball team, and should have pointed that out.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Nice to have a new sport to watch.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It looks like Japan will be the new country all the NBA teams will be looking at for new players. I expect at least 5 of these players for Japan will be in the NBA as soon as they can get them. With Hachimura included Japan will be one of the favorites for gold in Paris.

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

Reginald BokToday  06:56 am JST

It's interesting that in basketball and rugby, Japan's best players aren't actually Japanese.

How do the nationalists feel about that

Hawkinson is a naturalized Japanese citizen. He has every right to be on the team and he came up big when needed.

I really hate posts like these. Instead of celebrating a good night (despite a disastrous 4th quarter), Reginald has to bring up the possible thought patterns of a small group of hateful losers. To me, sport is the ultimate meritocratic endeavor. People just see the accomplishments, and maybe that is a pathway to having people be more acceptable to those who don't look like them. That's a good thing. Maybe this is a way for people to start viewing "Japanese" as not just racial, but more in accordance with your citizenry.

5 ( +13 / -8 )

With Hachimura included Japan will be one of the favorites for gold in Paris.

"Favorites for gold" is possibly a stretch for the Japanese men at this moment. The women will certainly be fighting for gold in Paris.

But Japan is young, hungry, and ambitious. With the booming popularity of basketball in Japan, there's no reason not to aspire to medals in a decade's time.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I hate to be "that guy," but as a former NCAA Div 1 player (Georgia State Uni) and h.s. coach, Japan has a long, long way to go. The only thing they are "on the radar" is as an easy win for teams in the group stage of the Olympics.

Watching the games, this has been some of worst quality of "major" basketball I have ever seen - on all levels: play, coaching, officiating, commentators, everything. Japan's offense is too simplistic, basically an elementary version of drive-and-dish and throw up a prayer, which while effective for playground and high school ball, will not work against top tier teams (see the France and Slovenia games). It wouldn't even work against a top NCAA team. Their defense is nothing, which is why they play full-court press even in the first quarter. They hope to get turnovers before they are forced into having to defend in the half-court because they do not have the height or length to do it. And don't forget about the total lack of any rim protection. They have also managed to take advantage of the FIFA two-referee system (NBA has three) and have gotten away with a lot of moving screens and reach-in fouls that a third ref would have noticed (but, no shame in exploiting blind spots).

Most of the teams they have played are bottom feeders. I know Finland was ranked higher, but honestly, they played like a pickup team 5 guys thrown together right before the game. No team cohesion at all. Japan's one saving grace is their teamwork. I figure this is because almost all of their players are in the domestic league and they can meet more often for practice and coaching, where as a lot of other countries have their players spread throughout the NBA and Euro leagues. Harder to get together.

And hold off on the idea that Japan will now become a breeding ground for NBA players. Note that their top three players, while learning their fundamentals in Japan, got their main baller education and experience in the NCAA Div 1: Watanabe (George Washington Uni), Hachimura (Gonzaga Uni) and the 3-point guy (can't think of his name, but Uni of Nebraska); even Hawkinson (Washington State Uni). Japan does not really have the underlying culture for basketball yet. Coaching is also a problem. "Over coached and under taught" is what I have seen at the youth level. They run drills better than anybody I have seen, but don't know why they do it or how to put it all together. When the guys that are on this team become coaches of the people watching them now, then things will take off, I think.

Not saying Japan has not done a good job. They are definitely punching their weight. But, please, temper expectations.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

It looks like Japan will be the new country all the NBA teams will be looking at for new players. I expect at least 5 of these players for Japan will be in the NBA as soon as they can get them. With Hachimura included Japan will be one of the favorites for gold in Paris.

When all the decent Japanese players head to the US and play their college ball there, the NBA might get interested.

Japan has a very long way to go before the NBA even starts sniffing around here for talent.

Sorry to be the one to tell you this, but Hachimura is an AT BEST average NBA player, statistically probably BELOW average. France has a better chance at being a favorite, if Wembayama plays, and he hasnt even played in one NBA game, yet is probably better than Hachimura.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Same old story here,when foreign born players are making their name good then it’s ok otherwise the old “us vs them” is always there.

I wonder how Japan would do without their most successful foreign players in sports like basketball and tennis.

Anyway congratulations to them.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

"Over coached and under taught" is what I have seen at the youth level. They run drills better than anybody I have seen, but don't know why they do it or how to put it all together. When the guys that are on this team become coaches of the people watching them now, then things will take off, I think.

This is because Japan doesnt play to the individual, and the individual has to play for the team. Japanese players get infinitely better when they play in the US, rather than here.

Hell European players are better coached than here in Japan, and it shows by the number represented in the NBA

Not saying Japan has not done a good job. They are definitely punching their weight. But, please, temper expectations.

For all the years they have been playing ball here, they are not doing a very good job. Being 30th or 40th in the world isnt saying much.

Let's not forget they didnt make it out of group play,

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Basketball on Olympics… Good for them, but its nothing to compare with NBA.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Congrats to the Japanese team.

You've gotta start the build from somewhere.

Basketball is becoming super popular in schools, with kids shying away from some more "traditional" sports.

That said - as collegepark duly noted - Japan is still far from top tier with many inherent probs to work on.

And beating Cape Verde a small poor island, pop about 500,000, is not going set the BB world alight, even though the team has pro players competing in Europe.

If a big improvement in resources, management, coaching, sponsorships, training etc are seriously put in place long term, then no reason why Japan can't climb the ladder.

But if not - then it'll just be the proverbial flash.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Nicely done team. But watching how they almost blew a twenty point advantage in the final period makes me think they won't make it much past round one

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This is because Japan doesnt play to the individual, and the individual has to play for the team. Japanese players get infinitely better when they play in the US, rather than here.

I agree with what you are saying, but it is a bit deeper than this. Basketball is a team sport no matter how many great individual stars there are. That being said, no matter how well a team is coached and versed in their system, their are times when individual players, or a couple of them, need to be spontaneous and create on the spot - read and react, not just follow a script. This is what a lot of Japanese sports teams are missing. Very top down from the coach. A player freelances, he winds up out of the game. I was tickled when the manager of the Keio baseball team at Koshien was praised for letting his players make their own decisions when batting. It really should have been like this all along. Hense, the "over coached and under taught" comment.

Things I think Japan needs:

get more players overseas - NCAA, NBA, D-League, Euro-league. Play in Japan and you play against Japanese players with Japanese coaches and Japanese trainers. You become good at playing against Japanese. Go overseas, learn new things - coaching, training...and you get to go against players and coaches from other countries. Look how well the men's soccer team did in the World Cup. Most of their players are now foreign based and bring all that comes with it to the national team. Maybe in a generation things will get better (Coach Hachimura, Coach Watanabe...)

more basketball culture outside of school clubs. I learned as much from playing pickup and streetball as I did from coaches and going camps. I learned different things, of course, but just as useful. School is where you get the fundamentals and knowledge. Outside is where you learn to create and freelance - nobody to tell you what you did was "not the right way." Combine the two, then you've got a player. Unfortunately, the very few outside hoops I see here are empty except for exchange students and resident foreigners. Almost nobody has a hoop in the driveway or a roll-away in the street. And if they do, usually it gets removed for being "meiwaku," at least in my neighborhood. Let the game come to the kids on their own sometimes.

Sorry to be so long winded, but hoops is a passion of mine.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Time for a wet blanket. Beating Finland, Venezuela and Cape Verde may be an accomplishment for Japan but they also got waxed by Australia and none of those teams are exactly basketball powerhouses. The luck of an easy draw works wonders but I wouldn't be engraving their names on any trophy just yet.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Not saying Japan has not done a good job. They are definitely punching their weight. But, please, temper expectations.

Pretty much. The question is, can they sustain it.

Like in rugby, you'll get a whole bunch of 'bandwagon' Japanese basketball fans who go crazy when they win and say they're basketball fans but ignore the sport if and when they start losing again.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Japan's offense is basic at best. They got wins over teams that are mostly at the bottom of most rankings other than Finland. Japan's ranking was so low that Finland is ranked higher, but it was still insignificant because Finland did not have a good ranking. Any decent US university team could shut Japan's offense down.

Unfortunately, Japan's qualification means Hachimura (Japan's best NBA player) will now have to play in the Olympics for Japan to keep his endorsements. He was probably hoping to sit the Olympics out when he knows Japan does not stand a chance of medaling and his focus of being a better NBA player.

Another silver lining:

At least, Japan performed better than China. China lost all of their games in the tournament with their importing of foreign players like Japan.

The hypocrisy of these two 'homogeneous countries/societies/ethnicities" is showing!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Well played Akatsuki Japan. Congratulations.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Most other teams in rugby and Basketball have members playing under residential rules, unfair to single out Japan.

This is partly true, but not half the squad. That is why some single out Japan Rugby.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

With Hachimura included Japan will be one of the favorites for gold in Paris.

Sorry, but ranked at 36 there is no way Japan would ever be the favorite to win gold at the upcoming Paris Olympics in anyone's estimation. Great that you support your nation, but just quite unrealistic.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

A great team, great players, indeed. But why isn't Rui Hachimura, an NBL star player, on the team? I wonder.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

voiceofokinawa Today  04:38 pm JST

A great team, great players, indeed. But why isn't Rui Hachimura, an NBL star player, on the team? I wonder.

NBA, not NBL.

The article explains why Hachimura wasn't playing in this World Cup.

It's in the 3rd paragraph from the bottom.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Nice that Japan's team is going to the Olympics and all ... but if they could only beat Cape Verde by 9 points, I seriously doubt they're going to do much in Paris.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

MarkX Today  07:26 am JST

I really hope that when they play in Paris that Hachimura is left off the team. But of course he won't and he will be the main attraction, even though he didn't put in the hard work to get them into the Olympics! 

That's like a baseball team leaving its star player off the postseason roster after he missed much of the season with injury (but is healthy now) because "he didn't put in the hard work to get them into the postseason."

No baseball manager in his right mind would make such a ludicrous decision.

Hachimura has put in, and continues to put in, the hard work that makes him the best Japanese basketball player in the world. So he definitely deserves to be on Japan's Olympic team.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

News is just coming in : South Sudan has also qualified for the Olympics! Big up to the South Sudanese - a team ranked 62 and made up of a lot of US and Aussie pros who decided to represent their nation of birth/heritage. Turned out to be a brilliant decision for them!

Can't wait to see Japan and the South Sudanese teams in Paris - real Cinderella Stories right there!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Quo Primum,

Thanks for the correction and the information. It seems Hachimura had personally turned down an offer to join the team for various reasons. He may play in the Paris Olympics.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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