Japan Overwhelms Finland in Fourth Quarter to Secure a Basketball World Cup Win
Josh Hawkinson notched his first Basketball World Cup double-double and 22-year-old guards Yuki Kawamura and Keisei Tominaga combined for 42 points.
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OKINAWA CITY ― With a 10-point deficit entering the fourth quarter, Japan faced a formidable challenge against Finland in a FIBA Basketball World Cup game on Sunday night, August 27.
But Japan coach Tom Hovasse's squad aced the test with flying colors, earning a crowd-pleasing 98-88 victory.
World No 36 Japan outscored 24th-ranked Finland 35-15 in the final quarter.
To the delight of the home crowd, Yuki Kawamura, scored 19 of his 25 points in the fourth.
Big man Josh Hawkinson, who was chosen as the Player of the Game, finished with 28 points and 19 rebounds, game-high totals in both categories. The Washington State alum, who became a naturalized Japanese citizen in 2023, had an influential performance on offense, making 7 of 9 shots from the floor, and 14 of 15 free-throw attempts.
Hawkinson had 12 points in the final quarter.
"He really gutted it out today," Hovasse said of Hawkinson. "It was amazing,"
Hovasse made astute substitutions throughout the game, using player combinations that worked well together.
Reserves Makoto Hiejima (17 points in 14-plus minutes), Kawamura (4-for-7 on 3s, nine assists and zero turnovers in about 25 minutes) and Keisei Tominaga (17 points, 4-for-7 on 3s and three steals in 18-plus minutes) were difference-makers in this game.
Kawamura and Tominaga are the youngest players on Akatsuki Japan's 12-man World Cup roster. Neither 22-year-old guard appeared fazed by the pressure of trying to earn a win in front of the home crowd.
"That was a huge win for us," Tominaga proclaimed in the post-game news conference. "We were down 18 points but we never gave up."
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Author: Ed Odeven
Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and X (formerly Twitter) ＠ed_odeven.
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