Japan’s national men’s basketball team ended their friendlies with ANOTHER big win over ANOTHER Western European country which has always participated in EuroBasket. At the beginning of the afternoon (at Japanese time), they beat… France (!!!!) the world n ° 7 team, 81-75 in Saitama.
Rui Hachimura scored 19 points in this game on 7 of 15 shots (link in Japanese) while Toronto Raptors forward Yuta Watanabe (who also went to college in George Washington) added 18 points on 6 of 13 shots. Hachimura also added 7 rebounds and 2 assists while playing just under 29 minutes. You can watch the highlights in the video above.
The first half of that game felt like the Blues would be hunted down like the Belgian Lions as they rushed to a 46-30 lead at halftime. Along the way, the Japanese kept the French at just 37.5% on shots and dominated the paint, 22-14. Yes, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (11 points) was there. The same goes for Los Angeles Clippers forward Nicolas Batum (10 points) and Boston Celtics goaltender Evan Fournier (16 points). All three were playing considerable minutes (about 25 each)
In the third quarter, France started playing again in the most anticipated way before kick-off. They shot 56.3% from the field and held the Japanese down to 35.7% to reduce the lead to just 3. It was 61-58 to start the fourth.
The French continued to lead the Japanese in the fourth 46.2% against 38.5%. However, Japan achieved the deciding point in the first minute and a half, starting a 9-0 streak to start the period and take a 70-58 lead. France did not even shoot at that time. In fact, they returned the ball twice in this race.
How should we take this friendly? Either way, beating France is a great achievement. The Japanese managed to strike first and take extra points after the French countered their own points.
But we must also take into account the preparation of France for the match. They are probably feeling a little anxious as they lost their previous two friendlies to Spain on July 8 in Malaga and July 10 in Paris. The loss to Japan is their third and final loss before the start of Olympic group stage games, starting with the United States on July 25.
According to Julien Guérineau in an article by the French Basketball Federation (link in French), the team was also not fully prepared at this point due to the jet lag and lack of training. Some players, like Batum, only played two games for the Olympic team because of the NBA playoffs, although he said in the article that the team would not use excuses for their bad behavior. performance so far.
Japan start their Olympic group stage matches on July 26 against Spain.