Kawamura's quickness wows Korea into submission
Kawamura was a blur on the court for Japan, getting steals, making assists and driving into the basket with reckless abandon. It all paid off, though, as the U16 Akatsuki Five prevailed, 76-73, in what has been one of the most nail-biting affairs in the tournament. The 5ft 7in (1.69m) Kawamura eventually logged 13 points on 5-of-8 FG shooting, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals in a scintillating display of quickness.
Kawamura was the perfect foil to Korea, who were not getting much from their own backcourt, so they chose to dump the ball inside into their bigs, who had the edge in size against Japan's small frontline. For a while, it worked as Japan had trouble containing the likes of Cha MinSeok and Moon JeongHyeon, but Korea finally faltered in matching Japan's pace in the endgame.
That's not to say that coach Torsten Loibl's wards had it easy. On the contrary, this was a see-saw battle all throughout, with 16 lead changes and both teams shooting exactly 41% from the field. It really came down to the last few possessions, and that's when Kawamura really stepped up.
Backstopping Kawamura's efforts were Seishin Yokochi and Chikara Tanaka. Yokochi propped up Japan in the early goings, scoring 9 of his 14 points in the first half. Tanaka, meanwhile, had maybe his best game of the competition so far, scoring 17 points on top of 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals.
Korea, meanwhile, were paced by JeongHyeon's 17 points while MinSeok added a dozen. Star forward Lee SeungWoo struggled a lot in this match, shooting just 2-of-7 from the floor and tallying 4 points.
Korea will now have to play Macau tomorrow for the right to make it to the Quarter-Finals on Friday against powerhouse Australia, while Japan await the Play-Offs winner between the Philippines and Hong Kong.