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3 Naoto Tsuji (JPN)
Game Report
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Second half surge powers Japan past Thailand

TEHRAN (FIBA Asia Challenge 2016) – Japan had trouble figuring out Thailand in the first half of their Day 3 match, but the Akatsuki Five surged in the second half to win convincingly, 96-67, at the FIBA Asia Challenge 2016 in Tehran, Iran. Naturalized center Ira Brown was at the vanguard for the Japanese, who will tote a 1-1 record to the next round.

Turning Point: Thailad had a red hot start in this one, leading by as many as 11 points in the first quarter, but the Japanese were able to right the ship in the middle of the second period and wrest the lead at the half, 43-39. Thailand last threatened with a Nakorn Jainasuk three-pointer, 52-48, in the middle of the third quarter, but then Japan turned on the jets and outscored the Thais, 18-5, for the rest of the period to permanently take control.

Stats Don't Lie: Outside shooting worked in Japan’s favor in this match up. Coach Kenji Hasegawa’s wards connected eleven times from beyond the arc, with point guard Naoto Tsuji’s five makes leading the way. Ryusei Shinoyama, Takatoshi Furukawa and Tenketsu Harimoto each drilled in 2 triples. Thailand, meanwhile, made just three of their nineteen three-point tries.

Game Hero: Naturalized player Ira Brown was unstoppable in this game as he recorded a 19-point, 11-rebound double-double for Japan. He was a big reason Japan won the rebounding battle, 42-37. Coach Hasegawa opted to start Brown at the power forward position, and it proved to be quite effective.

The Bottom Line: Japan needed a bounce back win after they lost to Korea on Day 1, and that’s exactly what they got here. Now they move on to the next round carrying a healthy amount of confidence ahead of their games against the Group C squads. Thailand, for their part, should be happy about sticking for Japan as long as they did, but they will certainly need more high level play of they are to make any headway in this competition.