Yuta Watanabe, Japan a step away from making 2024 Paris Olympics

Aug 31, 2023, 9:11 AM | Updated: 9:31 am

Yuta Watanabe, Phoenix Suns forward for Japan after beating Venezuela in the FIBA World Cup...

Yuta Watanabe #12 and Yudai Baba #18 of Japan applaud the fans after the FIBA Basketball World Cup Classification 17-32 Group O game between Japan and Venezuela at Okinawa Arena on August 31, 2023 in Okinawa, Japan. (Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images)

(Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images)

Japan is one win away from getting back to the Olympics.

Makoto Hiejima scored 23 points, Phoenix Suns forward Yuta Watanabe added 21 and Japan roared back from a 15-point third-quarter deficit to beat Venezuela 86-77 on Thursday in a classification round game at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Okinawa, Japan.

While Japan was knocked out of contention to win the current FIBA event with a loss Tuesday against Australia, the two remaining games on its schedule carry importance to reach the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

Watanabe had help in the first of those behind a well-rounded effort from Japan, which is 2-2 in FIBA play.

Yuki Kawamura scored 19, which would clinch a berth in the Paris Olympics with a win over Cape Verde on Saturday.

A win Saturday would give Japan its second consecutive Olympic berth. The team played in the Tokyo Games two summers ago as the host nation, but fans could not attend because of restrictions related to the pandemic.

On Thursday against Venezuela, Watanabe went 3-for-8 from beyond the arc but was perfect on five shots in the paint.

He shot 8-for-14 overall and added eight rebounds.

Garly Sojo led Venezuela (0-4) with 20 points, and Nestor Colmenares added 17.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Phoenix Suns

United States' guard Devin Booker, left, takes the ball forward as South Sudan's guard Marial Shayo...

Associated Press

Devin Booker returns to starting lineup as Team USA avoids upset in close win over South Sudan

Devin Booker returned to the starting lineup as Team USA avoids the upset in a 101-100 win over South Sudan.

18 hours ago

Oso Ighodaro #4 of the Phoenix Suns poses for a portrait during the 2024 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot at ...

Arizona Sports

Oso Ighodaro, Jalen Bridges shine as Suns close out Summer League action with loss to Kings

Phoenix Suns' Jalen Bridges and Oso Ighodaro shine as they close out their Summer League schedule with a loss to the Sacramento Kings.

19 hours ago

Oso Ighodaro...

Arizona Sports

Suns rookie Oso Ighodaro flies around court in summer league win over Bucks

Phoenix Suns rookie Oso Ighodaro continued his solid summer league showing Friday with eight points and 11 rebounds in Las Vegas.

2 days ago

Bol Bol looks on during a Phoenix Suns game...

Arizona Sports

Report: Bol Bol off South Sudan roster for Paris Olympics due to personal reasons

Phoenix Suns big man Bol Bol is reportedly off South Sudan's Olympic roster due to personal reasons, per ESPN's Leonard Solms.

2 days ago


Arizona Sports Video

Video: Should the Phoenix Suns use the Golden State Warriors’ handling of the salary cap as an example?

Should the Phoenix Suns use the Golden State Warriors' handling of the salary cap as an example?

2 days ago

Kevin Durant smiles during a Team USA exhibition...

Arizona Sports

Kevin Durant back practicing for Team USA in London

Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant is reportedly expected to return to Team USA practice in London after dealing with a strained calf.

2 days ago

Yuta Watanabe, Japan a step away from making 2024 Paris Olympics