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Togashi, Takeuchi twins named to Japan’s 12-man squad for Asian Games

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Staff Writer

Quick-footed guard Yuki Togashi and the Takeuchi twins headline Japan’s 12-man basketball squad for the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, the Japan Basketball Association announced on Tuesday.

While the team, dubbed the Hayabusa Japan, has some veterans like the Takeuchi brothers and guard Takumi Ishizaki, it also selected some young future stars like Naoto Tsuji (Toshiba Brave Thunders), Makoto Hiejima (Aisin SeaHorses), Daiki Tanaka (Toyota Alvark) and Tenketsu Harimoto (Toyota) with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in sight.

Coach Kenji Hasegawa’s team also picked up some top shooters in Japan to boost its scoring options. Kosuke Kanamaru (Aisin), Tsuji, Takatoshi Furukawa (Link Tochigi Brex) and Ryumo Ono (Chiba Jets) ranked in the top 15 in the 3-point percentage in the 2013-14 NBL campaign. Kanamaru and Tsuji were Nos. 1 and 2 in that department.

Inside will be taken care of by Kosuke Takeuchi (Hiroshima Dragonflies) and Joji Takeuchi (Hitachi Sunrockers) and Atsuya Ota, a Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix center. These three are the only men that stand above 2 meters. The team’s average height is 193.6 cm.

Yet it is Togashi, 21, who will probably receive the brightest spotlight on the squad in South Korea. The 167-cm, who played his high school ball at Montrose Christian in Maryland, participated in the NBA’s Las Vegas Summer League last month and drew some attention with his nimble moves.

Togashi, who helped lead the Akita Northern Happinets to the bj-league championship game in May, represented Team Japan in the William Jones Cup in Taiwan earlier this month as well. Japan went 1-8 in that tournament, with a squad that included six players from the current national team lineup (Togashi, Furukawa, Tanaka, Hiejima, Harimoto and Ono) and other young players.

Ota, Ishizaki and Togashi have played in the bj-league, yet the latter two, who had previously been with the Shimane Susanoo Magic and Akita, respectively, are free agents as of this announcement.

The 17th edition of the Asiad will be held between Sept. 19 and Oct. 4. Japan, which finished fourth four years ago in Guangzhou, China, is seeded and its first game will be against Qatar in the second round of the 16-team event.

The last time Japan’s men earned an Asian Games medal was back in 1994 in Hiroshima, when it received the bronze medal.