Follow FIBA on Facebook
Takada too hot to handle as she jump starts Japan's campaign
TENERIFE (FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018) - When it comes to classifying the best individual performances from the first phase in Tenerife, Maki Takada is likely to be at the heart of the conversation.
The Japan star was sensational in a breathtaking 77-75 overtime win against Belgium as she poured in 26 points, as well as 6 rebounds and 3 steals.
Meanwhile, behind the highly-productive headline numbers was her relentless work ethic on defense - something which proved fundamental to her team's victory. Not least, as Japan are without their WNBA star Ramu Tokashiki.
Although in typical Takada fashion, she was quick to play down what was a pivotal contribution.
"It was our first time playing against Belgium who are a very good team and we had to play very hard emotionally and physically not to lose," she said. "My teammates moved the ball really well, found me for many open shots and fortunately I was able to score. So I thank my teammates. This was also a very important game for us to advance to the next round."
It was a compelling contest. One that had everyone on the edge of their seat and for Japan head coach Tom Hovasse, the sense of relief was huge as his team avoided an 0-2 opening.
"It was really a must-win game for us," confessed the play-caller. "If we were to lose our first two games with such a young team, I think maybe their confidence would start to lag a little bit.
"So, I think we really needed to get a win - by 1 point, 2 points, it didn't matter. We scratched out a win. We played really good in spots. I think we can play better and hopefully we will, but it was just a great win for us."
Japan complete their Group C campaign with a match-up against Puerto Rico on Tuesday.