Japan on target again, claim wins with China, Australia to wrap up Group F action
BEIRUT (Lebanon) – Australia, China, and Japan close out their FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers campaigns with wins. As a result, Iran were able to secure the last ticket to the World Cup from the Asian Qualifiers.
Australia were the first to claim a win in the final day of Group F play with a 98-53 victory over Kazakhstan.
The Steppen Wolves fought hard to keep their World Cup dreams alive and trailed by only 26-22 early in the second quarter after a basket made by Roman Marchuk. This forced a timeout out of Dean Vickerman and the Boomers came out of the break to explode for a 18-0 run.
They’d continue to build up the lead throughout the rest of the game until the final buzzer. The Boomers were on target from long range once again as they knocked down 14 three-pointers in their final game of the Asian Qualifiers.
Over in Hong Kong, China finished strongly both in the Asian Qualifiers and in the final quarter in particular with a 86-74 win over Iran.
The two Asian powerhouses went neck and neck through most of the first three-quarters, with the lead changing hands 10 times. Neither team led by more than 5 points in the first half.
In those first twenty minutes, Iran rode the scoring of Behnam Yakhchali, Matin Aghajanpour, and Arsalan Kazemi as the only three scorers who put points on the board. Yakhchali eventually ended up with 28 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists. Kazemi finished with his usual double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds to go with 5 steals. Meanwhile, youngster Matin Aghajanpour scored 10 points in the first quarter before ending up with 13 at the end of the game.
China came to life in the fourth quarter as the pace of the game picked up, outscoring their opponents 25-16 in the final interval. Additionally, China outscored Iran 41-26 In the second half.
All players got on the scoreboard for China in this game, led by Wu Qian who had 18 points on 6-10 shooting in just 20 minutes of action.
Japan also wrapped up their last game in the Asian Qualifiers by handily defeating Bahrain, 95-72.
It was another sharpshooting performance for the on-form Akatsuki Japan squad as they rained in 16 three-pointers, making it the fourth straight Qualifiers game of at least 10 made triples. In three of those last four games, they’ve made at least 15 three-pointers.
Japan led from start to finish once again, as they continue to look more and more impressive leading up to the World Cup later this year.
Four players scored in double-digits for Japan, led by Josh Hawkinson (22 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists), Yutaroh Suda, (20 points, 6 three-pointers), Yuki Kawamura (13 points, 3 rebounds, 9 assists, 3 steals), and Hirotaka Yoshii (13 points).
Turning Points: Coming out of the timeout when they were up just 26-22, the Boomers collected 3 consecutive offensive boards before finding Nick Kay for a wide open corner three. This seemed to remind the team what advantages they had and what they were able to do, so they kept on doing it to the end.
For China, it was their beautiful transition offense late in the third quarter that saw Zhang Zhenlin, Zhao Jiwei, and Wu Qian connect on three swift passes with no dribbles go from basket to basket for an easy layup. From there, it was easy to see that China were in control of the tempo.
Games Heroes: Todd Blanchfield was lit again in Melbourne, going for 31 points on 11-17 shooting and 7 three-pointers in just over 20 minutes of play.
For China, while Wu Qian led the team in scoring, it was Zhao Jiwei who led the charge with 8 assists to go with 12 points in the win.
Yuki Kawamura, the smallest player on the court, shined for Japan in their final Qualifiers game, doing a little bit of everything and cranking it up in the fourth quarter. His speed was electric and casually left Bahrain defenders in the dust, allowing him to score easy layups and make the right passes.
Stats Don’t Lie: Both Australia and China went deep into their talent pool on the way to their wins. The two victors enjoyed 43 points off the bench.
For Japan, it was another stellar three-point shooting performance as they connected on 16 three-pointers.