Japan’s Men’s National Basketball Team, better known as the Akatsuki Five, escaped upset-seeking Chinese-Taipei to take their first win in the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, 76-71, Saturday morning at Okinawa Arena in Japan.
Despite being the 66th-ranked team in the world, Chinese-Taipei kept close with no. 37 Japan thanks to Artino, who had 15 points, 18 rebounds, and five assists.
With 2:15 left in the game, Artino found a wide-open Chou Kuieyu for a booming triple that knotted things up at 69-all.
After a Yudai Nishida layup that gave Japan the lead seconds later, Artino fouled out which ended up being the turning point of the contest.
Nishida was able to find a cutting Luke Evans afterward to extend Japan’s lead to four.
Chinese-Taipei had one last shot to extend the game.
Down by three, 74-71, with 17 seconds left, Ling Bingsheng missed on a trey. Nishida knocked down to clutch free throws to seal Japan’s first win in three games in Group B.
Nishida was on fire all throughout the contest, dropping 27 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field. Evans also tallied a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds while Yuki Togashi had an all-around line of eight points, five rebounds, and four assists.
Matthew Aquino also made his debut for the Akatsuki Five, playing three minutes and 53 seconds in the first quarter. The National University product got two points.
Besides Artino, Chou Kuelyu erupted for 21 points built on four treys for Chinese-Taipei, who dropped to 0-2 in the group.
The Akatsuki Five will next face the Boomers tomorrow. Chinese-Taipei closes out the window on Monday after Australia, as well.