22 - 31
July 2016
Torsten Loibl (JPN)
to read

Loibl looking for more consistency from Japan

TEHRAN (2016 FIBA Asia U18 Championship) - Japan finished their play in Group B with a resounding victory over Kazakhstan, but they have a much tougher mission ahead of them as they take on Chinese Taipei today in the Quarter-Finals of the 2016 FIBA Asia U18 Championship. The winner of that encounter advances to the Semi-Finals against either Lebanon or India, and coach Torsten Loibl is hoping his wards are up to the formidable challenge.

Japan finished with 3 wins against 2 losses in group play, but that hardly impresses Loibl, who is trying to squeeze out more effort and consistency from his squad. The Taipei unit they will face is certainly going to be tough, given how Chinese Taipei won four of their five group games, and the only game they lost (to China!) was by just a three-point difference. Coach Loibl will certainly lean on team leaders Tensho Sugimoto, Yudai Nishida and Keisuke Masuda, but he would love for other guys like Yuki Mikami, Rei Ito and Avi Koki Schafer to step up as well.

Loibl talked to FIBA.com.

FIBA.com: Japan have had some up and down moments this tournament. What has been the cause of this?
Loibl: We only started working with the team March of this year. The time to prepare was limited, but we try to grow from game to game. However, consistency is lacking, and we still see our level of play go up and down too often.

FIBA.com: Which players have risen to the occasion to be the leaders of this team?
Loibl: One player who came in last minute is Tensho Sugimoto, who joined the team just last month and has been playing excellently. He really is an outstanding performer for us. Aside from him, team captain Yuki Mikami is supposed to be one of our front-runners along with last year´s U16 top-scorer Yudai Nishida.

FIBA.com: What’s the aspect of Japan’s style that needs the most improvement in against Chinese Taipei?
Loibl: Chinese Taipei have been playing an amazing tournament, and we need to play perfectly to make it to the Semi-Finals. Controlling their speedy guards will be important to keep them from getting a high score. This is the key, since our own scoring potential is limited.

FIBA.com: What can you say about the future of Japanese basketball based on what you’ve seen here?
Loibl: Japan basketball players had more a problem with lacking size and physical ability than lacking skills in the past. What we have been trying for the past two years is to take taller players with good athletic abilities on all positions and let them get the early international experience. We can probably find more skilled players in Japan, but they are all very small and have basically no chance to make it to the top international level. Looking into the future, we need to think about how to increase the average size of our Men´s National Team. That might cause some weaker result at the moment, but it will pay off in the future. This is the new philosophy the Japan Basketball Association shares with me. I can see that basketball in Asia is improving fast.