02 - 08
April 2018
16 Chikara Tanaka (JPN)
Game Report
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Japan's speed prove to be too much for Lebanon

FOSHAN (FIBA U16 Asia Championship) - Japan used their superior speed to neutralize Lebanon's size advantage and come out victorious on Day 1, 94-68.

Behind the capable playmaking of Yuki Kawamura and Seishin Yokochi, Japan started the game strong and broke the match open in the second quarter, leading 46-33 at the half. Japan built on their momentum even more in the second half, leading by as many as 29 points en route to their 26-point margin of victory.

It was a surprisingly dominant display in a game that was expected to be closer than what actually happened. With no player taller than 6ft 3in (1.90m), Japan were supposed to have a tough time containing Lebanon's bigger frontline, but coach Torsten Loibl's wards negated Lebanon's size with blinding speed and sharp shooting. As a team, Japan shot a searing 61% from the 2-point area while also scoring 20 points in transition and 13 off second chances. Despite their size disadvantage, Japan managed to outscore Lebanon, 56-38, in the paint and even outrebound them, 52-38.

Keisei Tominaga was Japan's top scorer with 15 points in under 20 minutes of play, while Rin Yamazaki recorded a 13-point, 13-rebound double-double. Much hyped guard Chikara Tanaka also did well with 12 points despite struggling to shoot well from the floor all night (3-of-14 FGs). On the other end, Rayan Zanbaka was the lone bright spot for the U16 Cedars, scoring 21 points and grabbing a dozen boards.

This win gives Japan a 1-0 win-loss card in Group D, while the Lebanese absorb their first loss and sink to the bottom of the group.

Japan are hoping for back-to-back wins when they face India tomorrow even as Lebanon will try to bounce back against defending champions Korea.