Japan qualify for first U17 World Cup in 8 years despite India’s heroic efforts
DOHA (Qatar) - Japan survive a furious comeback run by India to win, 90-85, and claim the second ticket to the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup 2022 of the day.
The young Akatsuki Five led the entire way after claiming the lead after the first 21 seconds, but India never backed down. The lead was as big as 15 points in the middle of the game for Japan, but India closed the gap down time and again to even 1 point late in the game.
The dagger that seemingly clinched the game for Japan was Yuto Kawashima’s three-pointer with less than 30 seconds to go to make it a two-possession game. The clutch shot was the icing on the cake for Kawashima in yet another outstanding game played by the youngster. His 32 points marks the highest scored so far by any player in the competition this yeah, while his 17-rebound performance stands as top 5 in total rebounds in a single game.
Three-point shooting was key for Japan in this matchup, aside from Kawashima’s late game triple. Kawashima himself had 6 three-pointers on 10 attempts and Japan also got 5 more long distance shots from Eiijiro Ogawa who had another double-digit scoring game.
India put up a valiant effort, once again led by Kushal and Lokendra Singh. Kushal nearly matched Kawashima’s tournament-high and instead tied his own personal high with 31 points while also getting 9 rebounds and 3 steals. Lokendra added in 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 assists.
Japan are rewarded for their efforts in this hard-earned victory against a tough opponent with a trip to the Semi-Finals and - more importantly - qualification for the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup 2022 to be played in Malaga, Spain from 2-10 July. This will be Japan’s second ever U17 World Cup appearance with the previous time being in 2014 when they were led by Rui Hachimura.