10:24 JST, 5 September 2023
Japan qualified for next year’s Paris Olympics as the top-seeded team in Asia with an 80-71 win over Cape Verde at the FIBA Basketball World Cup on Saturday night.
The FIFA World Cup is organized by Japan, the Philippines and Indonesia. Saturday’s match at the Okinawa Arena in Okinawa City, which took place as part of the classification round to advance to the world no. 17-32, was the last match for Japan.
Japan finished the World Cup with three wins and two losses, including their first-round matches.
The basketball team became the first among Japanese group ball sports to qualify for the Paris Olympics. It is also the first time since the 1976 Montreal Olympics that the Japanese men’s basketball team has qualified for the Olympics on its own, rather than participating as the host nation’s team.
Before Saturday’s game, Japan defeated Finland in the 1st round and Venezuela in the classification round.
The team held a press conference in Okinawa City on Sunday and expressed their excitement about qualifying for the Olympics.
Coach Tom Hovasse was confident, saying the team performed very well but could have done more.
Yuta Wananabe, who said he would quit the national team if he didn’t qualify for the Olympics, thanked his teammates. “I can probably keep wearing this uniform,” Watanabe said.
Team captain Yuki Togashi said, “We all felt that the national team had to win to make basketball a major sport. [in Japan].”
“Internet evangelist. Twitter fanatic. Hardcore entrepreneur. Incurable analyst. Extreme food junkie. Unapologetic tv maven. Reader.”