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Japan vs UAE
Jr. Sakuragi (Japan). First day of the preliminary round of the 2007 FIBA Asia Championhip, Tokushima, Japan. 28 July 2007.
28/07/2007JPN/UAE - 'This was only the first match'

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TOKUSHIMA (FIBA Asia Championship) - Hosts opened their campaign in Group 'B' of the Championship with a whirlwind 109-66 win over United Arab Emirates on Saturday, but coach Kimikazu Suzuki refused to read too much into the lop-sided result.

"Don't forget this is only the first step. We have many more and tougher matches to win," he said after the win in front of a capacity crowd.

"I was basically worried about how the players would combine and play. Also about their conditioning. I'm glad it proved to be satisfactory," he said.

"The first game of any Championship is always tricky. So I'm happy we are off to a winning start," Suzuki said.

Japanese captain Kenichi Sako while thanking the crowd for the support commented, "We were a little worried because playing in front of the home crowd is always additional pressure. It can cut both ways."

"Of course, it is quite thrilling to see so many people turn up to support us. But then even one small slip can be very embarrassing. I must admit we were all a little nervous at the start," the Aishin Sea Horses point guard said.

JR Sakuragi, the former UCLA player who dropped his surname Henderson after acquiring Japanese citizenship, thought "It couldn't have been a better debut for me with the National Team."

"I think we combined not too badly," the ex-Vancouver Grizzlies forward said. "This kind of a win is very important to improve our confidence levels," he added.

UAE coach Zoran Zupcevic was rather succinct. "I think the difference in quality was for all to see. Needless to say anything more."

Japan 109 (Takehiko Orimo 17, Ryota Sakurai 15, Takuya Nawamura 14) bt UAE 66 (Rashed Alzaabi 18, Ayoub Albalooshi 15). Quarterwise: 32-11, 58-26, 86-50.

S Mageshwaran