Japan cagers hold off visiting squads

Men's team edges Philippines; women's squad beats Mozambique

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

The Japan and women’s national basketball teams recorded victories for the second time in as many days, leaving Sendai’s Xebio Arena on Saturday with momentum.

In the Saturday finale, coach Kimikazu Suzuki’s team topped the Philippines 83-76.

The visitors out-rebounded Japan 50-37.

Big man Kosuke Takeuchi paced Japan with 23 points on 11-for-14 shooting and grabbed 14 rebounds. Naoto Tsuji had 14 points and K.J. Matsui scored 11, including 3-for-5 from 3-point range. Makoto Hiejima dished out six assists, and starting center Atsuya Ota, the lone bj-league representative on the squad — he plays for the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix — provided nine rebounds, three points and two assists. Daiki Tanaka and Kosuke Kanamaru each scored eight points.

Japan led 23-9 after the opening quarter, but the Philippines chipped away at the lead, cutting the gap to 32-25 entering the third quarter.

Philippines forward Chris Blake had 27 points, eight assists, five rebounds and five steals.

Earlier Saturday, Japan won 74-55 over Mozambique. Power forward Ramu Tokashiki had a team-high 18 points on 7-for-10 shooting and collected nine rebounds. Yuki Miyazawa also converted 7 of 10 shots in a 14-point effort. Former Phoenix Mercury guard Yuko Oga, the team’s oldest player at age 30, chipped in with 13 points, five assists and four boards. Japan finished with 24 assists on 29 baskets.

Mozambique led 20-13 after the opening quarter. Japan pulled ahead 31-29 by the end of the second stanza, and secured the victory with 25 fourth-quarter points.

The Japan women hammered Mozambique 105-39 in the teams’ series opener on Friday. The Japan men defeated the Philippines 86-67 in the later game.

On Sunday, the Japan teams wrap up their pre-Asia championship preparations with a pair of games at Yoyogi National Gymnasium No.2, starting with the women’s game at 1 p.m. The men square off at 3:30 p.m.

Editor’s note: A Hoop Scoop column on Japan women’s team adviser coach Herb Brown is also featured in Sunday’s online edition.