“The absence of (Josh) Hawkinson led to a physical deficit.”
Japan lost 69-76 to South Korea in the first game of the KB Kookmin Bank 2023 Men’s Basketball National Team Trials at Jamsil Student Gymnasium on 22 February.메이저사이트
The Japanese, who have been playing all of their trials on home soil, were outplayed by the Koreans. Of course, they were without two NBA legends, naturalised player Hawkinson and B.League Rookie of the Year and MVP Yuki Kawamura, but even taking those into account, they didn’t play their best basketball.
Japan lost 69-76 in the first game of the KB Home Bank 2023 Men’s Basketball National Team Trials against South Korea at Jamsil Student Gymnasium on 22 February. Photo courtesy of the Korea Basketball Association
It was the first defeat in 11 months for Japan, which lost 68-79 to Iran in the Asian qualifiers for the FIBA FIBA World Cup Philippines-Japan-Indonesia 2023 in August last year.
Head coach Tom Horvath said in the official post-game press conference, “It was kind of expected. We were outplayed physically. Of course, this game gave us a better idea of our team. They had the upper hand in the physical battle and we will build on that in our next game.”
“For now, we are only thinking about how to improve our tactics and strategy for the next game against Korea. I was disappointed that we were outrebounded in the first half. I think we did a little better in the second half. We played a rotation defence without Hawkinson, and we missed some spur-of-the-moment rebounds. We need to work on that and try to overcome the physicality.”
Hawkinson, who missed the game, is likely to miss Game 2 as well. “He had a little bit of an injury in this game, so he didn’t play. There are no plans for him to play in the second game.”
South Korea harassed Japan with a long line-up, with Heo Hoon and every other player playing forward and centre. Japan struggled with this, but it’s not an unfamiliar situation, as they’ve been playing exhibition games against world powerhouses across Asia. The teams they’ve faced are bigger and taller than South Korea.
Coach Tom Horvath is confident that it will be different at the full World Cup. Photo courtesy of the Korea Basketball Association
Hobas acknowledged this, but promised to get better. In fact, Japan’s current strength is far from complete. He is confident that a full squad will be different at the Basketball World Cup.
“We’ll learn from the game, but I think the physical and rebounding disadvantage is something we can overcome with our roster. Hawkinson is the best rebounder on our team. Without him, our weaknesses are more pronounced. At the Basketball World Cup, we’ll just have to make up for it. Of course, we were always outplayed in the physicality and rebounding department. We have to work harder to make up for that,” he said.
Japan’s goal at the Basketball World Cup is to finish as the best of the six Asian nations. If they do, they will receive one of the four tickets to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games reserved for Asia (excluding Australia and New Zealand). Just like Iran did four years ago. If they slip up, they will have to walk through the thorny path of the final qualifiers.
“Our goal for the Basketball World Cup is to be the best of the six Asian nations,” says Hobas. We want to get through the group stage and play in the second round.