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03 - 07
June 2017
25 Takatoshi Furukawa (JPN)
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Japan's final EABA Championship 2017 roster out to make a big statement

TOKYO (EABA Championship 2017) - Japan have chosen the elite players who will represent the country when they host the East Asia Basketball Association (EABA) Championship 2017 in Nagano from 3-7 June.

A cursory look at Japan's 11-man roster for the tournament indicates how serious the Akatsuki Five are in terms of not only qualifying for the FIBA Asia Cup 2017 but more so for making a big statement in their sub-zone. Japan have never won the EABA Championship, settling for 2nd place in 2009 and 2011 before falling to 3rd place in 2013. This is the second time they are hosting this competition, and it is clear they are leaving no stone unturned in their quest for outright glory.

Most of the players on Japan's EABA 2017 team are household names in the country's professional circuit - the B. League. Veterans dot the roster like Takatoshi Furukawa and the Takeuchi twins, while B. League stars Makoto Hiejima and Yuki Togashi made the cut as expected. The only non-professional in the list is former youth team ace Yudai Baba, who currently plays for the University of Tsukuba.

Japan 12-player roster for EABA 2017    
 Yudai Baba Ira Brown Takatoshi Furukawa Makoto Hiejima
Yuya Nagayoshi Ryumo Ono Atsuya Ota Joji Takeuchi
Kosuke Takeuchi Daiki Tanaka Yuki Togashi Ryusei Shinoyama 

Japan had quite a forgettable stint in the previous EABA Championship. They were blown out by Korea on Day 1 and barely made the second round when they survived Chinese Taipei, 71-70. China dumped them in the Semi-Final, 83-68, before they trounced Hong Kong in the Battle for 3rd Place.

Japan had a much different make-up back then in 2013, with Kosuke Kanamaru and Ryota Sakurai leading the way. Now those two are no longer in the national team, and the Akatsuki Five will rely on the Takeuchi twins, Furukawa, and another veteran, Yuya Nagayoshi, for leadership.

Ira Demon Brown returns as the team's designated naturalized player after an impressive showing for them in the FIBA Asia Challenge 2016, where he averaged 13.9 points, 12.6 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. He should give Japan a lot of depth and physicality at the frontline despite being relatively undersized.

Japan are in the same group as Korea and Macau, while China, Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong comprise the other group. Only the top five teams of this competition will qualify for the FIBA Asia Cup 2017 that will be hosted in Beirut, Lebanon this coming August, and those same five teams will earn berths for the Asia Qualifiers to the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019, which begin in November.