The Japan Basketball Association announced the 12-player roster for the women’s national team for the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday.
Veteran center Maki Takada, small forward Yuki Miyazawa and point guard Rui Machida headline the squad, which will compete in its second straight Summer Games. Japan head coach Tom Hovasse also selected forward Moeko Nagaoka and guard Naho Miyoshi to add more experience to the squad.
Those five players were all on the Japan team that reached the quarterfinals at the 2016 Rio Games.
Reigning FIBA Women’s Asia Cup MVP guard Nako Motohashi, who severely damaged her right ACL last November, also made the cut.
Motohashi said during a three-game warm-up game series against Portugal that compared to her peak condition, she was at “about 70%.” Hovasse said the 27-year-old has made progress since then and is certain she will display a better version of herself during the games.
“We still have a month or so and I believe she will be back to the Motohashi who everyone knows,” Hovasse told reporters in an online news conference.
Four players from the Portugal series, during which Japan fielded a 16-person team, were left off the Olympic roster. That group consisted of guards Yuki Kitamura, Ririka Okuyama and Shiori Yasuma and center Rika Tanimura.
Takada is the oldest member of the Olympic squad at age 31, while 20-year-old Nanako Todo is the youngest.
“I’ve been pursuing the dream of becoming an Olympic athlete and competing at the Tokyo Olympics and I’m extremely excited that I’ve now grabbed the chance,” Todo said in a statement.
Ramu Tokashiki, Japan’s top player and a member of the Rio Games squad, tore her ACL last year and is not part of the team. She remained on the provisional roster through May before ultimately being taken off.
“We don’t have a superstar player. So we don’t have one single key player,” Hovasse said. “We have a very high goal and need each and every player to step up so that we can play our best basketball. We don’t have superstars, but if each player does her job, I think we have a very good chance.”
The Akatsuki Five, ranked at No. 10 in the world, will face the six-time defending champion United States, France and Nigeria in the preliminary round at the Tokyo Olympics.
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