28 Jul
    11 Aug 2024

    Japan do the double over arch rivals China

    Game report

    Japan scored two wins over China in friendly games leading up to the Olympic Games.

    TOKYO (Japan) - There was cause for double celebration for Japan as they returned from their Women's Olympic Basketball Tournament Paris 2024 preparation tour of China with two wins to their name.

    The Akatsuki had already held three camps in the lead up to their first active friendly games on the road to France and that helped them to go unbeaten in Xi'An.

    They started out by winning the opening clash 61-58 as Himawari Akaho led the way with 15 points. There was also an immensely positive sign with six assists for returning playmaker, Rui Machida. However, captain Saki Hayashi claimed it was not exactly their best effort.

    She said afterward: "Everyone on the team was a little tense. It was also the first match, so we were a little out of sync. We want to play better basketball from now on."

    That aim of improving was certainly met, with Japan moving up through the gears and completing a convincing 74-56 triumph that was founded on 11 points from Mai Yamamoto, as well as Maki Takada and Stephani Mawuli sharing 20 points.


    Toru Onzuka

    Extracting some revenge for their FIBA Women's Asia Cup 2023 Final defeat. head coach Toru Onzuka praised his team for the way they improved after the opening match.

    He insisted: "We struggled to make the most of our play in the first game, but the players made the necessary adjustments in this match and showed the results of their training.

    "We identified the issues that came up in the first game as a team and made the corrections through practice, which we were able to show."

    "Our strengths are speed and shooting power, but we struggled against China in the first game and were unable to demonstrate these skills as we would have liked, which was an issue.

    "We went into this match having identified our tactics for how we can make the most of our strengths. I am pleased and proud of the players for playing with such positive energy, despite the difficult situation they were in with the [pressure of] Olympic selection."

    The outcome of the series means China are now 1-4 so far in their preparations, but there will be no pushing of the panic button since key injuries have required them to step onto the court without many of their biggest ballers.


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