Japan falls in women’s hoop qualifier


The Japan’s women’s basketball team missed a prime opportunity to book an Olympic berth on Friday, falling in a 53-47 decision to the Czech Republic in quarterfinal play at the FIBA Olympic qualifying tournament.

With its victory, the Czech Republic qualified for the London Olympics while Japan needs to win two games over the weekend to capture the final remaining Olympic berth.

“We were too concerned with their height advantage,” said Japan coach Tomohide Utsumi.

Rika Tanaka gave Japan a golden chance in the fourth quarter, knocking down consecutive three-pointers to get her team to 46-43, but the Czechs went on a tear to put the game out of reach. Yuka Mamiya had a game-high 16 points.

Japan, which is aiming to compete in its first Olympics since the 2004 Athens Games, faces South Korea on Saturday, and if it wins will play the winner of the match between Canada and Argentina for the remaining ticket to London.