The Akatsuki Five will be looking for a three-peat at the upcoming FIBA Asia Cup, but this time it will have to do it without star forward Ramu Tokashiki.
The Japan Basketball Association announced its 12-player roster for the tournament later this month in Bangalore, India, on Wednesday.
The JBA statement on the announcement said that the Tom Hovasse-led coaching staff had come to the decision to go without Tokashiki, who is currently playing for the WNBA’s Seattle Storm and has not participated in the series of training camps that the national team has held since April.
The squad will consist of some notable veterans and up-and-coming youngsters.
Seven players that were on the team for last year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics, including guards Asami Yoshida and Rui Machida and center Yuka Osaki, will don the national team jersey again.
Sakura Akaho, a 184-cm power forward, will be the youngest player on the squad at age 21 and is expected to fill in for Tokashiki.
Japan is the two-time reigning Asia Cup champion, which was formerly known as the FIBA Asia Championship, and Tokashiki was the tournament MVP both times.
Slashing shooting guard Sanae Motokawa, who led the national team with 13.3 points per game at the 2015 Asia Championship, was also left out of the squad. Tokashiki was the second-leading scorer for Japan two years ago with 11.4 ppg.
The Asia Cup will be played from July 23-29 and Japan has been drawn in Group B with South Korea, the Philippines and Australia in the group stage. The top four finishers will advance to next year’s FIBA World Cup in Spain.