12 Asami YOSHIDA (Japan)
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Close to perfection for Japan's captain fantastic

TOKYO (2015 FIBA Asia Women's Championship) - The 2015 FIBA Asia Women's Championship proved to be a dream return to major tournament action for Asami Yoshida and it's little wonder the Japan playmaker is bursting with pride.

Without Yoshida in action at last year's FIBA Women's World Championship, Japan looked a pale imitation of the side that finished top of the podium at the 2013 FIBA Asia Women’s Championship for the first time in more than four decades.

Back to pull the strings at the most recent edition in Wuhan, Yoshida's presence transformed Japan back into a well-oiled and dangerous machine, as they successfully retained their crown for the first time in their history.

Unbeaten throughout the competition and signing off with a crushing 85-50 success in the Final against arch rivals China, Yoshida was quick to focus on the importance of the team ethic - something which has guaranteed them a cherished spot at the Olympic Games in Rio next year as they look forward to making their first appearance since Athens back in 2004.

"I feel no other emotion but absolute happiness," smiled the jubilant Japan captain.

"We witnessed what is possible when we play our style of basketball for a full 40 minutes.

"When this team began, our aim was that we would once again become the Asian champions.

"It was a goal that we also listed because it would get us to the Olympic Games and we were able to grab it with both hands.

"That players were able to play without any inhibitions and that pleased me, since it allowed me and my team to fulfil a dream.

Being asked to serve as the captain gives me extra satisfaction and happiness. For that, I want to thank everyone. - Yoshida

"[In the Final] we played without interruption for the entire game and had no cuts or gaps in how we fought, or in our concentration.

"I think it was a big factor in how we were able to go undefeated.

"What was also really good about this team is how everyone is helping each other, supporting each other, and Japan’s strength is its team force," added Yoshida.

"It is not only the starting five players who are a weapon, but also all of the really good players that were always waiting to enter the game."

While Yoshida has rightly directed the spotlight onto the stirring energy and team work which epitomised their golden triumph on Chinese soil, her own stellar contributions were at the heart of the success.

The point guard underlined her class by leading the competition in assists and cemented a deserved spot in the tournament's All-Star Five.

Now she can dream a little more - because Japan are Olympic-bound once again and nobody could be happier than the player who was at the very forefront of a historical and truly joyous week in Wuhan.