The Japan Basketball Association on Monday named 12 players, led by Phoenix Suns guard-forward Yuta Watanabe, for upcoming games in the run-up to the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Those 12, also including University of Nebraska shooting guard Keisei Tominaga and Chiba Jets point guard Yuki Togashi, will represent Japan at the World Cup tipping off on Aug. 25, head coach Tom Hovasse revealed.
Japan, ranked 36th in the world, will take on Angola on Tuesday, France on Thursday and Slovenia on Saturday, all at Tokyo’s Ariake Arena, before facing 11th-ranked Germany on the opening day of the World Cup, to be cohosted by Japan, the Philippines and Indonesia.
Japan has also been drawn with No. 24 Finland and No. 3 Australia in a challenging Group E at Okinawa Arena. The top Asian finisher of the World Cup will qualify for next summer’s Paris Olympics.
“We have to play for the three (who were left out of the final selection), too,” Watanabe said. “We have to feel the responsibility of carrying the hopes of the nation and play one game at a time to advance.”
Four of the 12 World Cup members — Watanabe, Togashi, Yudai Baba and Makoto Hiejima — played at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
In late June, Rui Hachimura said he would not participate in the tournament to focus on his upcoming fifth NBA season, with the Los Angeles Lakers.