Big center Elizabeth Cambage racked up 20 points and 12 rebounds as the Australian women’s national team cruised past Japan 81-55 in the second game of their three-game exhibition series at Tokyo’s Yoyogi National Gymnasium No. 2 on Monday night.
Shooting guard Katie Rae Ebzery followed Cambage with 15 points for world No. 2-ranked Australia.
For the second game in a row, Japan struggled on both ends of the court. The Aussies built a 42-16 lead going into halftime against the Asian champion, which was missing star player Ramu Tokashiki, currently with the WNBA’s Seattle Storm.
Japan performed better in the latter half led by shooter Mika Kurihara, who nailed three 3 pointers in the half alone. Center Maki Takada had 14 points and eight boards, both team-highs, for the “Akatsuki Five.”
Despite Kurihara’s effort from downtown, Japan’s long-shooting woes continued. The team went 0-for-25 in a 80-41 loss in the first game in Niigata Prefecture on Saturday, and made just four shots on 24 attempts from behind the 3-point arc on Monday.
Australia capitalized on its height advantage, outrebounding Japan 57-34.
“Outside shots are one of Japan’s strengths, but we had a hard time making them,” Japan head coach Tomohide Utsumi said after the game. “We’ll have to raise our shooting percentage to improve our scoring.
“While we have to deal with Australia’s height and power, our players are gradually getting used to it.”
Leading up to the third and final game of the series, Japan captain Asami Yoshida said that the team needs to play better from the beginning of the game.
“We got off to shaky starts in both games,” said Yoshida, who had zero points and seven assists. “We played better in the second half but we’ve got to do it from the first half. We only scored 16 points. Including our outside shots, we need to make shots when we need to.”
Both Australia and Japan have secured spots in this summer’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics. The teams have been allocated in the same group in the preliminary round.
The third game of the series will tip off at 7:30 p.m. at the same venue on Tuesday night.