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Tiebreaker Times

2023 FIBA World Cup

5-8 Yuki Kawamura stands tall against Finnish giants

On Sunday, the smallest guy on the court at the Okinawa Arena stood the tallest after securing Japan a landmark win in the FIBA World Cup 2023.

Standing at 5-foot-8, Yuki Kawamura towered over the court as his momentum-shifting three-pointers and lightning-fast drives propelled Japan to a dramatic 28-point turnaround in the fourth quarter, erasing an 18-point deficit.

The 22-year-old guard who plays for Yokohama and is the reigning B.League MVP came off the bench to finish with 25 points and nine assists, while shooting 4-of-7 from beyond the arc, including a decisive three-pointer in the final minute that extinguished Finland’s last comeback attempt.

“The young guys, Kawamura and [Keisei] Tominaga, came in and provided us with a significant offensive boost,” said coach Tom Hovasse, also crediting Tominaga — who is playing for University of Nebraska.

Tominaga, on his part, contributed 17 points, primarily through four three-pointers, and a 6-of-9 shooting performance from the field.

“That was a huge win for us. We were down 18 points but we never gave up. We knew we could still do it so we trusted each other. It was a great win for us,” shared Tominaga on their mindset when Finland built a sizeable lead in the second half.

Havasse showered praise on the performances of his young guards, showcasing the essence of Japanese basketball.

With the two leading the way, Japan erased an early deficit to stun the world No. 13 nation that was bannered by Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen.

2023-FIBA-World-Cup-Finland-vs-Japan-Yuki-Kawamura-2 5-8 Yuki Kawamura stands tall against Finnish giants 2023 FIBA World Cup Basketball News  - philippine sports news


“Once you start making threes, the defense has to come out and respect that, and that opens up our speed. That’s always the style of basketball we aimed to play. We just haven’t been making our threes. But once Tominaga got hot, Kawamura got hot, Josh (Hawkinson) began getting wide-open layups. Their defenders were so concerned about guarding the three-point line that we managed to exploit slips and find open baskets,” he explained.

“That’s our game plan. It just didn’t work until the second half.”

Significant is this win for not just Japan but also Asian basketball.

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This is the first win of any Asian country in the ongoing global showpiece. Moreover, it put them ahead in the race for the sole Asian slot for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“It was a significant win for us. I’m genuinely thrilled for the team. We’re striving to establish a new standard for Japanese basketball, and this is undoubtedly a significant step in the right direction.”

However, the job is not yet done.

Japan must curtail their celebrations as they are set to face Olympic bronze medalist Australia in their final group stage match, competing for the last ticket to the second round.

Written By

A Bacolodnon who loves basketball, chess, and esports.

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