The Japanese National Team got preparations for the upcoming FIBA World Cup off on the right foot on Monday with a 99-89 win over New Zealand. The game was the first of a two-game friendly series between both teams. Both squads will face off again on Wednesday, in Tokyo, Japan.
Japan is in Group E of the FIBA World Cup, joined by Turkey, the Czech Republic, and the United States. On the other hand, the New Zealand Tall Blacks are joined by Brazil, Montenegro, and Greece in Group F.
Japan’s win was powered by the 35 points, five rebounds, three assists, and two steals put up by Rui Hachimura. Teammates Yudai Baba and Joji Takeuchi added 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Hachimura was selected ninth overall in the 2019 NBA Draft by the Washington Wizards. The 21-year-old will get a chance to make an instant impact in his rookie campaign in 2019-20 as the possible starting power forward for the Wizards. Hachimura represents the next generation of Asian basketball talent in the NBA. From Yao Ming to Jeremy Lin and now Hachimura, the torch has been passed. He’s a solid scorer, who still has to work on other aspects of his game. However, considering the team’s lack of depth at his position, Hachimura will be able to earn some valuable floor time from the get-go.
Japan will open its World Cup campaign on September 1st with a game against Turkey in Shanghai, China.