Qatar edges Japan in FIBA Asia opener

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

The Qatar men’s national team outscored Japan 22-13 in the fourth quarter en route to a one-point victory in the teams’ 27th FIBA Asia Championship opener on Thursday in Manila.

Japan will look to rebound from its 75-74 Group B loss in a Wednesday game against Hong Kong. Tipoff is set for 3:30 p.m. local time.

Qatar center Jarvis Hayes, a naturalized citizen and the No. 10 pick in the 2003 NBA Draft (his NBA career spanned seven seasons with the Washington Wizards, Detroit Pistons and New Jersey Nets), paced the victors with 20 points, including 7-for-8 from the free-throw line. Big man Yasseen Ismail Musa finished with 12 points and a game-best 15 rebounds (eight offensive boards) and four assists. Erfan Ali Saeed chipped in with 14 points, six boards and three blocked shots for Qatar, whose coach, Thomas Wisman, is a former Japan bench boss.

Japan led 41-35 at halftime and took a 61-53 advantage into the final quarter at Mall of Asia Arena.

Kosuke Kanamaru, a former Panasonic Trians standout who has joined the Aisin Sea Horses for the 2013-14 campaign, led Japan with 27 points on 10-for-13 shooting. He was 4-for-5 from beyond the 3-point arc. J.R. Sakuragi added 13 points and eight rebounds and Kosuke Takeuchi notched a double-double with 10 points on 3-for-12 shooting and 10 rebounds. Ryota Sakurai dished out a team-high five assists and Makoto Heijima had four.

Center Atsuya Ota of the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix, the lone bj-league player on the national team, played 56 seconds and picked up two quick fouls.

Notes: For this continental tournament, Japan, Hong Kong and Qatar will all automatically advance to the second round. Lebanon, originally assigned to Group A, was suspended by FIBA and is not fielding a team in Manila. … Before the game against Japan, Wisman told Gulf Times, a Qatari newspaper, “What counts is how many wins we can take through. The Japan game is important for us. Then in the second round, we’re going to face three back-to-back hard matches against three Group A outfits. We expect Jordan, the Philippines and Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) to be quite tough.”