Five players attended the postgame press conference after Japan’s win over Iran on Saturday, and Takehiko Orimo and Takahiro Setsumasa were always the first two to speak.
That shows how well respected they are on the team.
“We’ve been given so much from them,” Japan coach Zeljko Pavlicevic said after the 72-62 victory over Iran in the final game of the Kirin Cup 2006 series at National Yoyogi Stadium Second Gymnasium. “I wanted them to play for us by any means.”
Sharpshooter Orimo and uncanny Setsumasa joined the national team in mid-May.
Pavlicevic expects them to give guidance, composure, and of course, bring productivity to the team.
Both Orimo and Setsumasa, ages 36 and 34, respectively, have widely been acknowledged as top-notch hoopsters at their positions. Orimo played at the 1998 FIBA World Championship in Athens, where Japan finished 14th in the 16-team tourney.
“Orimo has been the greatest shooter in the last 10 years,” Pavlicevic said. “A consistent shooter, that’s something we’d missed.”
In the three-game series, Orimo scored 15, 11 and 10, and was named series MVP.
“We want to play defense aggressively and play offense at a fast pace, and want to exhibit our Japanese style of basketball” Orimo said.
Meanwhile, Setsumasa’s contribution is hard to see on the stat sheet.
In fact, Setsumasa is not a starter like Orimo, but he comes off the bench. Yet the veteran point guard understands what he has to do to help the team.
“When the starters don’t enter a game in a good rhythm, I think we backups have to lead the team instead,” said Setsumasa, who plays for the Toshiba Brave Thunders of the JBL. “That’s something I learned during our tour in Europe (for training camp in June).”
Setsumasa scored two points and grabbed three rebounds in 5:01 of playing time.
Japan will announce its 2006 World Championship roster in August, and both players are expected to remain on the 12-man roster.