29 August, 2015
05 September
12 Asami YOSHIDA (Japan)
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Yoshida steps on the gas

WUHAN (2015 FIBA Asia Women's Championship) - Japan point guard Asami Yoshida is neither a rookie nor a newcomer to a FIBA Asia Women's Championship. She, as a matter of fact, is among one of the most experienced players in the competition.

But one look at the 27-year-old's presence and performance at the 2015 FIBA Asia Women's Championship and the transformation in her is obvious for the regulars.

Playing in her first international tournament on return from a debilitating ACL tear, which kept her out of the 2014 FIBA Women's World Championship, Yoshida is showing more composure leading the team's plays than focusing on merely scoring.

Simply put, Yoshida is dishing out more assists and collecting more rebounds than just scoring.

Praise for Yoshida came from none other than China coach Tom Maher.

"She's the best point guard in Asia. That stands for something," the Aussie said after she had dashed China's hopes with 10 rebounds, 7 assists and 6 points, including the game-winning basket.

"That’s the best thing about Yoshida now," said Japan coach Tomohide Utsumi, who led his country to the title at the 2013 FIBA Asia Women's Championship, where Yoshida was named to the All-Star Five.

She was always a fantastic scorer. There was never any doubt in that. But now she is emerging as a strong leader of the team. - Utsumi

"She's showing great vision in creating plays in pressure situations. And when needed she's taking up the mantle of scoring herself. Her return is certainly a great boost to our campaign.

Japan star Ramu Tokashiki was even more expressive in her praise.

"Without her [Yoshida], this team will not move. I think she's the only player in the team at whom all of us look. Sometimes even when she's on the bench," said the MVP of Japan's title-triumph two years ago

"[Yuka] Mamiya and I are moving really well together. But she [Yoshida] is the fulcrum of our team."

Mamiya, another member of the tournament's All-Star five from two years ago, concurred.

"I can't think of this team without Yoshida," said Mamiya, who plies her professional trade alongside Yoshida for WJBL champions JX Eneos.

"She's the leader of this team. That's it," Mamiya said.

Take the conversation to Yoshida herself and the response is characteristically succinct: "I'm doing what I can to the best of my abilities to help my team. That's all."