After scoring 18 points to help Japan beat Iran in a FIBA World Cup Asian qualifier at Ota City General Gymnasium on Monday, Yuta Watanabe's mind quickly turned to the United States where he will soon be fighting to make a name for himself on basketball's biggest stage.

The 23-year-old finished his four-year collegiate career at George Washington with eyes on the NBA, and thankfully for fans of the sport in Japan the interest was reciprocated when the Memphis Grizzlies picked him up and gave him the chance to be Japan's second-ever NBA player.

“I am really excited, you know, it is going to be a challenge. I know it is going to be tough,” said Watanabe after Japan’s 70-56 win, a game in which he also contributed four rebounds, three steals and a block. “The NBA has been my dream since I was a kid and I am here now, so I just have to do what I have to do, and I just have to prove that I can play.”