• Kyodo


Japan’s first game at the FIBA Asia Championship ended in a 86-48 loss against tournament heavyweight Iran in China on Wednesday.

Japan had no answers for Iran’s balanced attack, which saw every player on the roster score and Oshin Sahakian’s 15 points and six rebounds lead the way.

Japan went into the game without high-scoring swingman Kosuke Kanamaru, who was ruled out of the tournament earlier in the week with left shoulder and right elbow injuries.

The loss of the team’s highest scorer from the 2013 Asia Championship left Japan’s attack stagnant and predictable, which resulted in a high turnover count, 19 in total, as Japan struggled to create offensive opportunities against the stout Iran defense.

One bright spot for Japan was the play of Joji Takeuchi. The starting center finished with a 10 point, 11 rebound double-double — the only Japanese player score in double figures and only player to compete on the boards.

Frustratingly, seven of Takeuchi’s 10 points came in the first half and he did not attempt a field goal in the second, something Japan coach Kenji Hasegawa will need to rectify ahead of Thursday’s game against Malaysia.

Japan’s other top scorers were Makoto Hiejima who scored nine and Takatoshi Furukawa who finished with seven points. Furukawa shot just 2-for-12 (16.7 percent) from the field.

Earlier in the day the Philippines were upset 75-73 by Palestine in the second game in Group A.

Jamal Abu Shamala finished with 26 points and 15 rebounds and Sani Sakakini provided 22 points and 14 rebounds of his own.

Palestine made a stellar defensive play on the game’s final possession to secure the win.

The Philippines’ U.S.-born star Andray Blatche, a former NBA player, had 21 points and 12 rebounds on 7-for-18 shooting, but it wasn’t enough.

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