PHOENIX SUNS

Yuta Watanabe and Japan beat Finland in FIBA World Cup

Aug 27, 2023, 9:56 AM | Updated: Aug 28, 2023, 7:50 am

World Cup Japan Finland Basketball...

Japan center Josh Hawkinson (24) and Japan guard Yuki Kawamura (5) celebrate after defeating Finland in the Basketball World Cup group E match in Okinawa, southern Japan, Sunday, Aug. 27, 2023. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)

(AP Photo/Hiro Komae)

Joshua Hawkinson scored 28 points for Japan (1-1) as it put together an overwhelming fourth quarter to beat Finland (0-2) and eliminate the Finns from knockout-stage contention.

Japan outscored Finland 38-15 in the final 10:03, erasing what was a 13-point deficit. Yuki Kawamura scored 25 for Japan, including a three-point play with 4:35 left that gave the hosts the lead for good.

The 22-year-old Kawamura added a 3-pointer about 40 seconds later and Japan pulled away.

The Suns’ Yuta Watanabe scored 4 points on 1-6 shooting in 29 minutes. He also had no rebounds and two assists. Watanabe is Japan’s only NBA player.

He suffered an ankle injury in exhibition play but returned in Japan’s FIBA World Cup opener against Germany, an 81-63 loss.

Lauri Markkanen topped Finland with 27 points and 12 rebounds.

Japan is playing at home as the FIBA World Cup for the first time is being hosted by three countries: Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Next up for Japan

With their victory over Finland, Japan will next face Australia, which lost to Germany 85-82 Sunday. In that game, Dennis Schroder scored 30 points and added eight assists for Germany (2-0).

The win, combined with Japan’s win over Finland later Sunday, sent Germany to the second round.

Maodo Lo scored 20 for Germany, which trailed by four entering the final quarter but opened it on a 10-0 run.

Australia tied the game twice in the fourth. Both times, Schroder had an immediate answer to reclaim the lead. His basket with 46 seconds left put Germany ahead for good.

Patty Mills, as he did in the first game, led Australia with 21 points, five rebounds and six assists. Matisse Thybulle had 17 for Australia, which was only 9 for 16 from the foul line.

Germany played without Franz Wagner, who sat with an ankle injury.

U.S. coming up

The next two U.S. games (Monday, Wednesday) will be on ESPN2. The Monday game will begin at 5:40 a.m. MST and the Wednesday game begins at 1:40 a.m. MST.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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