27 Jul
    10 Aug 2024

    Qualified Team Focus - Japan: How far can their momentum carry them?

    MIES (Switzerland) - Japan will be competing at back-to-back Olympics for the first time since 1972 and 1976. The main question for Paris 2024 for Japan is how far will their momentum carry them?

    MIES (Switzerland) - The draw for the Men's Olympic Basketball Tournament Paris 2024 was held on March 19. It is now time to meet the teams that have already qualified for the Olympics with the dream of becoming Olympic champions this summer.

    Here is the number 26 team in the FIBA World Ranking Men, presented by Nike, the eight-time Olympic participants Japan. The 2020 Olympics hosts will be playing back-to-back Games for the first time since 1972 and 1976.

    How they qualified


    Japan qualified for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 and were playing back-to-back FIBA flagship events for the first time since 1963 and 1967. The Asians were looking to improve from their disappointing showing in China 2019, where they finished ranked 31st of 32 teams.

    Japan were overwhelmed in the opener, losing 81-63 to Germany. The team bounced back in strong fashion by defeating Finland 98-88 and finished the group stage with a 109-89 loss to Australia.

    Japan moved onto the 17-32 Classification Round and knocked off Venezuela 86-77 and finished the competition on a high note by defeating Cape Verde, 80-71.

    Japan ended up ranking 19th in the FIBA World Cup. They qualified directly for the Paris Olympics by finishing as the top team from Asia in the World Cup.

    Record at the Olympics

    Kunihiko Yokoyama at the 1972 Olympics

    Appearances: 7 - 1936 (9th), 1956 (10th), 1960 (15th), 1964 (10th), 1972 (14th), 1976 (11th), 2020 (11th)
    Medals: 0

    Last appearance

    Japan failed to pick up a victory at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo

    Japan hosted the 2020 Olympics - playing in the men's basketball tournament for the first time since 1976. The Asians opened the tournament with an 88-77 loss to Spain. Japan dropped to 0-2 in Group C after a 116-81 loss to Slovenia. Japan failed to grab at least one win in the tournament as they were walloped 97-77 by Argentina.

    The hosts ended up finishing the Olympics in 11th place - ahead of only fellow Asian side Iran.

    The Group Phase


    Japan have been drawn into Group B with Germany, France, and the winner of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Latvia, which will be played from July 2-7.

    They will be familiar with their first opponents as they opened last summer's FIBA World Cup against eventual champions Germany and lost by 18 points. Things will not get any easier for the Asian side as their next game is against hosts France, who they also played against in a preparation game leading up to the World Cup. In addition to the OQT hosts Latvia, the other five teams at the event in Riga are Brazil, Cameroon, Georgia, Montenegro and the Philippines. Whoever makes it through that competition will be Japan's final opponent in the group stage.

    Japan Group Phase games

    vs Germany (July 27)
    vs France (July 30)
    vs Winner OQT Latvia (August 2) 

    Players to watch 


    Japan fans will be anxious to see whether their uber-star Rui Hachimura will be representing the flag. The NBA star has not played for the country since the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, and he showed there how much firepower he provides the team with 22.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. The 26-year-old Hachimura will need to be at the top of his game for Japan to have a chance to advance from the group stage.

    Without Hachimura at last summer's World Cup, Japan were able to see how the other key players could take responsibility. Joshua Hawkinson responded superbly with a double-double of 21.0 points and 10.8 rebounds per contest.

    Joshua Hawkinson and Yuta Watanbe are stars for Japan as well

    Yuta Watanbe gathered another year of NBA experience and will be that much better for Japan because of it. The Japan core of leaders also includes Yudai Baba while Keisei Tominaga showed at the University of Nebraska that he can really shoot the ball from the outside.

    Akira Jacobs

    The team are expected to also include players such as Yuki Kawamura and Yuki Togashi. The Japanese coaching staff could also elect to bring some youngsters for the experience including 20-year-olds Akira Jacobs and Yuto Kawashima. 

    Qualified Team Focus series

    During coming weeks and months, we will continue to check out all teams aiming for a medal at Paris 2024 as part of our Qualified Team Focus series. Check out the first installment: USA, Germany, Serbia, Australia, Canada and France.



    Latest news

    Roster Tracker: Men's Olympic Basketball Tournament Paris 2024

    USA survive late Boomers' comeback, get second win of the summer

    Team Profile: Hovasse already coached Japan to an Olympic Final