clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Yuta Watanabe shines in Japan’s FIBA World Cup opener

The Suns’ new wing accounted for 32% of Japan’s scoring.

Germany v Japan: Group E - FIBA World Cup Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images

Deandre Ayton and Eric Gordon are not the only members of the current Phoenix Suns roster to be participating in international FIBA basketball this summer. After impressive performances by both for the Bahamas in the FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying tournament, their fellow teammate Yuta Watanabe is playing in the 2023 FIBA World Cup For Japan.

Japan opened up their group play competition against Germany on Friday morning, losing to Germany 81-63 in front of a home crowd in Okinawa, Japan. It is a tough draw for Japan, who FIBA currently has ranked as the 36th best team in the world. Group E includes Australia (ranked 3rd), Germany (ranked 11th), and Finland (ranked 24th).

Yuta the Shoota went for 20 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists in the game, and we once again were treated to a stellar performance by a member fo the Suns in international play.

Yuta displayed his ability to play on both ends of the ball throughout the game as he added two blocks and a steal to his stat line. The block was highlight-worthy. While it isn’t expected that the 6’9” wing will fill the role of a shot blocking backup big, it is in his repertoire. Last season with the Brooklyn Nets, Watanabe had 17 blocks, good for seventh on the team.

Yuta set the defensive tone early.

That tone quickly turned to an onslaught of quality German basketball.

Playing against a German team that includes NBA players Dennis Schroder, Franz Wagner, Mortiz Wagner, and Daniel Theis, Japan was down early after the first quarter, 23-11. After being outscored 30-20 in the second, it was clear that they were no match for the talented German squad.

The Japanese team shot a mere 17% from beyond the arc (6-of-35), which included Yuta’s 2-of-10 from deep. Germany killed them on the glass as well, outrebounding Japan 46-35.

We did get a Yuta the Alley Oopa moment in the closing minutes of the game, although he appeared to come up lame following his trip through the Japanese air en route to a wham-bam-slam.

We will continue to monitor to see if he simply landed funny or if something more serious occurred, but there have been no initial reports of an injury. Japan’s next game is against Finland at 5:10am AZ time.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Bright Side of the Sun Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Phoenix Suns news from Bright Side of the Sun