• Kyodo


It was a case of men against boys as Japan cruised past Macau at the East Asia Basketball Championship on Sunday with a dominant 119-47 win.

With the game quickly in hand, Japan head coach Luka Pavicevic spread the minutes and shots around. Six players scored in double digits for the hosts, led by Makoto Hiejima’s 17-point double-double. The SeaHorses Mikawa shooting guard got his points on 13 shots including 3-for-4 from behind the arc while adding 10 assists.

With one huge right-handed dunk early in the game, Yudai Baba, a 21-year-old Tsukuba University student, showed the athleticism that has sparked such excitement for his future. His combination of a bouncy 195-cm frame and good length with a smooth jumper is something Japan sorely needs in the backcourt with an eye on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Baba finished with an efficient 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the floor, five assists, four rebounds and three steals in just 19 minutes.

Macau, playing with the defensive intensity of a bored high-school team, allowed Japan to shoot 62 percent from the floor while managing just 29 percent itself as a significant disadvantage in size and physicality proved insurmountable.

Hoi Fong Iam finished with 12 points to lead the scoring for Macau, which next faces South Korea. The winner of that matchup will take second place in the group and earn a semifinal matchup with China, which hammered Hong Kong 90-60 to win Group B.

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