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Tominaga’s sharp shooting points toward a bright future
NONTHABURI (FIBA U18 Asian Championship) - Things weren’t looking so good in the past three days for Keisei Tominaga and the Japan National Team in the FIBA U18 Asian Championship. Two days ago, they lost an important match to Iran in the Group Phase, dooming them to a match against the mighty Australia. They fought hard and valiantly against the Aussies but it was still not enough.
In the classification game against Bahrain, they found themselves down 70-58 with only five minutes left in the game.
“In the first half, we didn’t catch the rhythm,” Keisei Tominaga said after the game. He did have 17 points up until that moment, but was shooting only 1/9 from downtown which was not up to his usual standard of 37.9%.
Then, in typical Tominaga style, he started to make it rain. Fans had become used to sudden bursts of scoring from the shooting guard like his 12 points in 2 minutes against Indonesia. It was “Tominaga Time” once again.
The 5’11” sharpshooter knocked down a triple. Then another triple. Then a long range two. Then another triple. In the span of just a little over two minutes, Tominaga put up 11 points and made it a three-point game.
Tominaga’s shooting opened up space for other the other players, allowing Keijiro Mitani to nail back-to-back three-pointers to force overtime where Japan eventually dominated and earned their win.
“We’re glad that we were able to come back in the second half,” Tominaga says with a sheepish smile. “We didn’t rush anything, we calmed down, and it’s a good thing that we caught up.”
Watching Tominaga catch fire has been one of the most entertaining things at the FIBA U18 Asian Championship. While he’s a polite young man off the court and usually ends up as a target for his friend’s jokes, he’s a fiery and intense leader on the hardwood during game time.
At the FIBA U16 Asian Championship, Tominaga started to shine by averaging 17.5 points on 42.2% three-point shooting alongside Chikara Tanaka. Here in Thailand without Tanaka, Tominaga has had to shoulder even more responsibility and has done well in doing so. He’s one of the only three players in the tournament to average over 20 points per game (21.3 PPG), thanks to his unbelievable shooting.
“I don’t worry about missing shots and [I’m confident] that I’m going to make them.” Tominaga says about what’s going through his head during those patented scoring runs.
When the buzzer died down in Japan’s loss against Australia the day prior, Tominaga took it the hardest and let his emotions pour. Japan had finished 2nd place in the 2016 edition of the FIBA U18 Asian Championship, earning a trip to the FIBA U19 World Championship and hoping that they could make a return.
“It’s unfortunate that we missed the [U19] World Cup,” says Tominaga “We just have to change gears and then take it game by game.”
Japan will be playing in the classification game for 5th place tomorrow and while that will be the end of the road for Tominaga in this tournament, his basketball journey is just only beginning.
If he continues to impress and shoot the lights out like he’s been doing, it won’t be long until he eventually makes the Men’s Senior National team to play along the likes of Rui Hachimura, Makoto Hiejima, and Yuta Watanabe.
“Hopefully those days will come,” Tominaga says with a bright smile. “I’ll be looking forward to it.”