New Japan men’s national team head coach Julio Lamas, who arrived in Japan last week, has not spent enough time assessing his players and their technical skills yet. But he’s satisfied with their intangibles so far.

“We’ve had our practices in a very good mood,” the Argentine said through an interpreter after Friday’s practice at Tokyo’s National Training Center. “And I like our players’ attitude as well. They have very good energy and they are smart, too.”

The team will play a pair of exhibitions against Uruguay at Aoyama Gakuin University on Saturday and Sunday before departing for Spain for a training camp and competing in a few tuneup games for the FIBA Asia Cup, which will be held Aug. 8-20 in Beirut.

“We’ll play against Uruguay and we’ll observe how our players will perform, not just looking for results,” said Lamas, who led the Argentina men’s national squad to a fourth-place finish at the 2012 London Olympics as its bench boss. “And then we’ll look to improve what we need to do from that point on as much as possible (leading up to the Asia Cup).”

Star point guard Yuki Togashi said that as the team has practiced under the new head coach for just over a week, it has a long way to go to become more complete, but noted that the 12 players are all eager to get better before the Asia Cup.

Meanwhile, while both Lamas and his players are attempting to adjust to each other, one of the notable points that Togashi has already noticed about Lamas’ game was that on offensive he asks his players to not get too rattled and take tough shots in a half-court game.

“When the clock winds down to 10, nine seconds left, as a point guard, you begin thinking you’ve got to take a shot, maybe bringing a center in to set a screen or something,” the Chiba Jets Funabashi player said. “But in (Lamas’) offense, you have nine more seconds, you can set another screen or something, trying to relay the ball as much as possible to look for easier shots.”

Lamas, 53, hinted that he would select two team captains for the Akatsuki Five as he has done at other teams in the past.

As he stated at his introductory news conference on July 21, Lamas plans to come up with a style that suits the national team, not just copying ideas from other competitive teams in the world. He said that there is “a long path” to achieve that, but he is motivated to do so.

“We are going to have to create a national team that everybody wants to play for and do whatever it takes to help the team. That’s very important going forward,” said Lamas, who regards Togashi and forward Yudai Baba as creative players. “We are going to need to play 10 to 15 international games against national teams that are ranked above us to get better.

“But we have more than enough motivation for the job.”

Japan is 48th in the latest FIBA world rankings.

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