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"I want them to show how great Japanese basketball is" - Asami Yoshida

TOKYO (Japan) – Asami Yoshida was one of the two assistants for the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers Draw in Bengaluru, India. On the stage, she assisted as each of the 24 qualified teams were placed in their groups. One of these teams will soon go on to be the champions of Asia in 2021, a title that Yoshida has achieved with the Japan women’s national team three times in her career.

Yoshida knows how what it will take to get there and how harder it is to keep on winning at the highest level.

"I think the difficulties and hardships to keep winning was something only players could experience," The recently retired guard said. "It was a very important experience for me to face those difficulties and hardships. It was great that I could keep challenging."

As a player who has been at the top of the game and experienced the growth of basketball in the region, Yoshida is excited and optimistic about the development of every nation in the region. She was one of the first few people to come in direct contact of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 trophy and she’s looking forward to a tightly-contested battle for the grand piece of silverware in the future.

"In men's basketball, they are improving themselves through competitions as well as women's. To be competitive in the world, we should get the level of every Asian team to be closer and make it feel like any team can be the champion!" Yoshida said.

Yoshida has played against and watched the teams compete intensely over the years in the Asia Cup, at both the men’s and women’s competitions. She has a couple of teams she enjoys watching in action aside from the obvious.

"I am Japanese so I think both of our men's and women's teams are fun to watch with speedy basketball," said the three-time Asia Cup champion."But China and Korea, both men’s and women’s, have a good combination of skills and heights and I like the way they play."

Though Yoshida admits she doesn’t know all of the Asian players in the men’s competition, there is one person she’s looking forward to watch in particular. He’s a fellow countryman that is on path to do something no Japanese player has done before: Be a star in the NBA.

"Rui Hachimura is fun to watch," said Yoshida said of the player who recently made history as the first Japanese-born player to be selected in the NBA draft. "Playing in the US, I am looking forward to see how he will be from now on. I am sure he is one whom the world is paying attention on."

Whoever will play when the time comes for Japan in the future, Yoshida will be ready to fully support her fellow national team athletes. And she expects the same from the fans as well.

"Our men's senior national team is getting more and more competitive and I am sure a lot of fans are looking forward to their games like me," Yoshida added. "I want them to win as many as they can and I want them to show how great Japanese basketball is on the court."