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Kanamaru back as Japan launch OQT preparations
TOKYO (2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments) - Japan on Monday launched their preparations for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Belgrade with players and coaches gathering at the Ajinomoto National Training Center.
All 11 members of the Japanese squad that reached the Semi-Finals of last year's FIBA Asia Championship in Changsha-Hunan to clinch a spot in the OQT are in the 29-man preliminary group that coach Kenji Hasegawa will choose this year's team from. That includes veteran point guard Yuta Tabuse, leading scorers from last year's team, Makoto Hiejima and Joji Takeuchi, and top rebounders Ryumo Ono and Atsuya Ota.
All of the Japan players had some brights moments last year when they overcame a heavy defeat at the start of the FIBA Asia Championship to Iran to reach the OQT.
The team also has Kosuke Kanamaru back in the fold. A 1.92m shooting guard, Kanamaru is one of Japan's most lethal marksman and was supposed to play last year but he withdrew from the squad because of soreness in his right elbow and left shoulder. Japan ended up taking just 11 players to the event.
The Nakagawa-born Kanamaru averaged more than 12ppg at the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship in Manila. He shot 35.5 percent (11 of 31) from behind the arc at that event.
Kosuke Kanamaru (JPN) is healthy and back in the reckoning for Japan
The preliminary squad will also hold workouts on Tuesday to conclude the first training camp before players return to their clubs to continue their domestic campaigns.
Japan will play in Group B at the OQT (4-9 July) against Latvia and the Czech Republic and if they finish in the top two, the Far East side will then play in a Semi-Final against one of the teams from Group A, which consists of Angola, Puerto Rico and Serbia.
The winners of the Semi-Finals will then square off with a spot in the Rio de Janeiro Games at stake. The men's basketball tournament at the Olympics will run from 6-21 August.
Dating back to 1936, Japan's men have played in six Olympic basketball tournaments. Their last appearance at a Summer Games was in 1976 in Montreal.
Japan preliminary squad for 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade: Yuta Tabuse, Atsuya Ota, Takumi Ishizaki, Kosuke Takeuchi, Joji Takeuchi, Kenta Hirose, Keijuro Matsui, Fumio Nishimura, Gaku Arao, Papemour Faye, Takatoshi Furukawa, Ryumo Ono, Hironori Watanabe, Ryoma Hashimoto, Ryusei Shinoyama, Kosuke Kanamaru, Naoto Tsuji, Yuki Mitsuhara, Shigehiro Taguchi, Makoto Hiejima, Naoya Kumagae, Yuya Nagayoshi, Daiki Tanaka, Tenketsu Harimoto, Kouke Hashimoto, Yuki Togashi, Yuta Watanabe, Yudai Baba and Rui Hachimura.