Yuta Watanabe, Japan advance to 2024 Olympics after win at FIBA Basketball World Cup

Sep 2, 2023, 9:30 AM | Updated: 10:52 am

Yuta Watanabe, Japan vs. Germany FIBA World Cup...

Yuta Watanabe #12 of Japan reacts during the FIBA World Cup Group E game between Germany and Japan at Okinawa Arena on August 25, 2023 in Okinawa, Japan. (Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images)

(Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images)

Japan secured an automatic berth for the 2024 Olympics by topping Cape Verde, 80-71, at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Okinawa, Japan on Saturday.

Phoenix Suns forward Yuta Watanabe played a game-high 40 minutes for Japan.

He notched five points, 10 rebounds, two blocks and one steal in the win.

Keisei Tominaga put the hosts — Japan got to play its World Cup games in Okinawa — up 73-53 on a 3-pointer with 2:00 remaining in the third quarter.

Cape Verde then held Japan scoreless for the next nine minutes, going on a 15-0 run to get within 73-68 on a 3-pointer by Betinho Gomes.

Japan went 11 minutes without a field goal, but Joshua Hawkinson had the team’s only baskets of the final quarter. They both came in the last minute, one setting up a three-point play, the other a 3-pointer to help the hosts advance.

Hawkinson had 29 points and Tominaga had 22 for Japan (3-2). Edy Tavares and Shane De Rosa each had 11 for Cape Verde (1-4).

It was the final day of World Cup games for the 16 teams that didn’t qualify for the second round.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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