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2023 FIBA World Cup

No miracles for Watanabe, Japan as Australia takes ticket to FIBA WC Round 2


World no. 3 and reigning Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist Australia ended Japan’s hopes of advancing to the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup’s second round, taking a 109-89 victory to punch their way to the next stage on Tuesday at Okinawa Arena.

Josh Giddey fired a huge double-double, 25 points, and 11 rebounds to secure the last ticket for Group E to the next round, which begins on Friday.

The rising star from the Oklahoma City Thunder stepped up for the Boomers as their leading scorer, Patty Mills, struggled in offense, shooting 4-of-13 (31%) from the field.

Already up 29-21 in the 7-minute mark of the second quarter, the Australians turned on the boosters. They unloaded a 22-7 blitz that inflated their lead, 51-28, with 4 minutes remaining at the half.

Following that, Japan could not keep up.

Xavier Cooks also made his presence felt for the 3rd-ranked world team, posting a double-double of his own, 24 points and 16 rebounds. Meanwhile, Josh Green and Nick Kay added 15 and 13 markers, respectively.

“Tonight was a big game for us – a bounceback game that we needed to have… We had emphasis on playing hard and picking up… That’s what we needed to do, and just making sure that we continue to have that same energy moving forward into our next game,” Green said in the postgame interview.

Orlando Magic veteran forward Joe Ingles, like Mills, also struggled from the field with only five points on 1-of-4 shooting.

Joshua Hawkinson was the man for Japan, registering 33 points. Meanwhile, Phoenix Suns sniper Yuta Watanabe posted 24 markers on 4-of-8 (50%) shooting from beyond the arc.

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With the win, Australia now joins top-seeded Germany for the next round in Group K, having toppled Finland in their opener (98-72). The Boomers only lost in a tight game against the Die Mannschaft on Sunday (85-82).

“It’s like coaching for your life, and the team’s playing for their life… I felt just like I did before the Slovenian game today. Olympic’s at stake, moving on at stake, and a fired up team that played tremendous on their homecourt,” Australia head coach Brian Goorjian said in the post-game interview.
“I just think the blueprint for our success… was the first half. Some guys get spit out, and some guys get moved in. Three big pieces tonight: Josh Giddey, Josh Green, and Xavier Cooks,” he added.

Japan, now 1-2 in the standings, will settle for the classification phase. The Akatsuki still have the lead in Asia’s race for the 2024 Summer Olympics. They got their 1st loss to Germany as well on the opening night (81-63) but won against Finland (98-88) the next match.

Japan will settle for the classification phase.

The Akatsuki still have the lead in Asia’s race for the 2024 Summer Olympics as they have a 1-2 record.


The Scores:

Australia 109 — Giddey 26, Cooks 24, Green 15, Kay 13, Mills 11, Reath 8, Inges 5, Exum 5, White 2, Daniels 0, Goulding 0, Thybulle 0

Japan 89 — Hawkinson 33, Watanabe 24, Togashi 14, Tominaga 8, Baba 5, Kawamura 3, Heijima 2, Inoue 0, Nishida 0, Kawamata 0, Hara 0, Yoshii 0

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Quarterscores: 25-17, 57-35, 87-70, 109-89

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