Game Photos. Game Details and Stats
TOKYO, Japan (4th FIBA Asia Cup): Hosts Japan scored the first 9 points of their Group Prelim Round game against fellow East Asian team Chinese Taipei on Saturday and became the first team to win two games in row with their 98-70 triumph.
Naturalized forward JR Sakuragi (pic above) led the Japanese challenge right from the word go opening the scoring for the game. The 36-year-old Aishin Sea Horses player accounted for 10 points – in a 4/4 on the field and 2/2 in free-throws – pulled down 4 rebounds – all in defense and dished out 2 assists all in the first quarter to put Japan in the driving seat.
The hosts’ drive to victory all the way clear after that.
Sakuragi went on to finish with 19 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and a block before being ejected for five fouls with about half-a-minute left in the game with Japan having all but wrapped up their win.
Japan had lost to Chinese Taipei 52-87 in the William Jones Cup last month, and that defeat lingered long on both the coaches’ minds.
“We are much more organized now. And we are also much better prepared,” said Japan coach Kimikazu Suzuki.
“The inclusion of JR (Sakuragi) has indeed brought in more size in the team,” he said.
Taipei coach Hsu Chin-Tse echoed those thoughts, and almost echoed his opposite number’s words.
“I think this team is much better coordinated. And they took the game away from us early,” the Taipei coach said.
“After the initial deficit, we were always fighting an uphill battle.”
Tien Li led Taipei’s rearguard action with 19 points and 7 rebounds.