PHOENIX SUNS

Suns’ Yuta Watanabe drops 24 in Japan’s FIBA loss to Australia

Aug 29, 2023, 8:42 AM

Yuta Watanabe squres up Josh Giddey in Japan vs. Australia of FIBA World Cup play...

Yuta Watanabe #12 of Japan drives to the basket against Josh Giddey #3 of Australia during the FIBA Basketball World Cup Group E game between Australia and Japan at Okinawa Arena on August 29, 2023 in Okinawa, Japan. (Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images)

(Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images)

Two days after securing the country’s first FIBA win over a European team in FIBA World Cup play, Japan faced the harsh realities of the competition in this year’s tournament.

An Australian team with multiple NBA players on their bench punched the gas pedal enough times to wear down and pull away from a feisty Japanese squad led by former Washington State Cougars center Joshua Hawkinson (33 points) and Phoenix Suns forward Yuta Watanabe (24 points).

The 109-89 loss for Japan knocked them out of second-round world cup play, but the team has two more games on the docket to set themselves up nicely for a chance to appear in the 2024 Olympics.

Defended mostly by starting forward Nick Kay and backup NBA veteran Joe Ingles, Watanabe got his touches in a variety of ways, with eight twos, five threes and nine free throws taken.

He peppered in a 7-for-13 shooting night with seven rebounds.

Watanabe flashed his ability to put together quick bursts of combination moves to free up his quick-release jumper, including a low-post mismatch against guard Patty Mills for an and-one.

Watanabe did a lot of attacking, including getting a floating lefty shot off the glass over shotblocker Duop Reath off the dribble.

He went 7-of-9 from the foul stripe with his aggressiveness and went 3-of-5 from beyond the arc, doing his usual damage from the corners and beyond.

The de facto power forward even had a few play initiation possessions as the Australians pressured the Japanese backcourt with Dallas Mavericks guard and Arizona Wildcat product Josh Green applying pressure.

Japan has scheduled games on Thursday and Saturday with to-be-determined opponents.

Phoenix Suns

Kyle Zunic #22 of the Perth Wildcats shoots a layup against Tyler Smith #11 of G League Ignite in t...

Kellan Olson

22 for 22: Do Suns go project route in 2024 NBA Draft with Tyler Smith?

G League Ignite forward Tyler Smith has a combination of size and shooting rarely seen on the first-round bubble of the NBA Draft.

5 hours ago

Tyler Kolek, Marquette point guard...

Ryan Pasiecznik

Point guard Tyler Kolek picked by Suns in For The Win’s NBA mock draft

The Phoenix Suns' point guard problem could be solved in the 2024 NBA Draft if Marquette guard Tyler Kolek is on the board at No. 22.

8 hours ago

Bobi Klintman  of the Taipans in action during the round 13 NBL match between Cairns Taipans and Me...

Kellan Olson

22 for 22: Bobi Klintman could be Suns’ big wing in 2024 NBA Draft

If the Phoenix Suns want a bigger wing in the 2024 NBA Draft, Bobi Klintman is a headliner in the back of the first round.

1 day ago

Charles Barkley looks on prior to game three of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Ce...

Kellan Olson

Charles Barkley says next season will be his last on television

Long-time NBA analyst for TNT Charles Barkley revealed on NBA TV Friday night that next season will be his last on television.

2 days ago

Jaime Jaquez Jr. #11 of the Miami Heat is guarded by Andrew Wiggins #22 of the Golden State Warrior...

Kellan Olson

22 for 22: Can Suns find rare instant contributor in NBA Draft?

There is no doubting the value it would bring the Phoenix Suns to select a player in the NBA Draft who was a long-term part of what they do.

2 days ago

Cam Payne's mug shot after an arrest in Scottsdale...

Arizona Sports

Former Suns PG Cam Payne arrested in Scottsdale for refusing to give identity to police

Former Phoenix Suns point guard Cam Payne was arrested for failing to provide Scottsdale Police officers with his name.

2 days ago

Suns’ Yuta Watanabe drops 24 in Japan’s FIBA loss to Australia