clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Watanabe, 21 points and 8 rebounds, helps Japan beat Venezuela in FIBA classification bracket

Japan missed out on Top-16 play, now fights for final standing in 17-32 round

Japan v Venezuela: Group O - FIBA Basketball World Cup Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images

Japan won’t be winning any medals in the 2023 FIBA World Cup, but they are making national history nonetheless.

Japan beat Venezuela this morning, 86-77, to ensure their placement in the top half of the ‘17-32 Classification Round’, with one more game to play tomorrow against Cape Verde.

New Phoenix Suns forward Yuta Watanabe posted 21 points (including 3 of 8 threes), 8 rebounds and 2 blocks in the win. That’s 45 points, including 6 of his last 13 threes, while playing 75 of the 80 possible minutes in the last two games. He still winces occasionally from the pain of a sprained ankle and knee suffered in prior games, but the injury is clearly not serious, and he said as much in a recent tweet.

“When I hurt my leg in the match against Angola and Germany,” Watanabe tweeted, “I thoroughly examined it and made sure it wasn’t a serious injury before participating. I am doing. Even if I do, the trainers and the team doctor will stop me.”

Yuta has showed up and showed out for his team in a big way in this tournament, posting 20+ points and 6+ rebounds in three of four games so far.

He leads the team in minutes (33.8), shot attempts (13), three-point attempts (6.5) and blocks (1.8) per game, while ranking second in points (17.3) and rebounds (5.3) behind big man Joshua Hawkinson, who is a Japanese national and plays in their domestic league for the Shinshu Brave Warriors.

The Top 16 of the FIBA World Cup are still alive for a medal chance. USA (9 NBA players), Germany (4), and Canada (6) are the top remaining teams. These FIBA World Cup games have been marked by the absence of the very best NBA talent, but it’s still fun to anticipate a medal round that include as many as 8 NBA All-Stars.

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