Japan’s emotional Basketball World Cup win over Finland leaves Chinese fans envious – ‘when will we cry again?’

Tominaga Keisei scored six of nine and four of seven three-pointers, scoring 17 points, one rebound, two assists and three steals, in a win which left Japan on three points from two games after an opening loss to Germany.

“That was a crazy game,” Japan head coach Tom Hovasse said. “We were down 18 at one point, but the guys just never gave up. It was looking kinda bleak out there.

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“The young guys, Kawamura and Tominaga, came in and gave us a really big boost on the offensive end. Tominaga was active on defence, too, which is really important for us.

“The fans were amazing. That was a big win for us. I’m really happy for the guys. We’re trying to create a new standard here for Japan and this was definitely a big step in the right direction.”

Joshua Hawkinson, a 28-year-old naturalised player, also chipped in 28 points and 19 rebounds for Japan, who next face Australia in their final group game on Tuesday.

But it was the performance of 1.72-metre tall Kawamurua that caught the eye, with the tournament’s official Weibo account hailing his “small body, big power!”.

“When will the China men’s basketball team produce a defender like Yuki Kawamura?” one fan on the Twitter-like social media platform asked.

“This Yuki Kawamura is simply a hot-blooded Japanese hero! It makes me really sad to see that a defender of this height cannot have any chance in China. From football to basketball, we have been pulled away too much,” another wrote.

“Yuki Kawamura is not even the shortest player in the Japanese men’s basketball team. This Yuki Tomikashi who is holding [Lauri] Markkanen. is only 165 centimetres. In our country, let alone playing basketball, I’m afraid he’ll be [mocked].”

Japan’s Keisei Tominaga was also singled out for praise by his head coach. Photo: AFP

A lot of fans voiced concerns Japan’s performance at the tournament could see China miss out on qualification for next summer’s 2024 Olympics, with the top-ranked Asian team set to qualify automatically.

China face South Sudan in their second group game on Monday, following an emphatic opening loss to Serbia at the weekend.

“This is a fact we have to accept,” a fan said. “There is a high probability the Chinese men’s basketball team will not go to the Paris Olympics. The team that can go is Japan, which has been assigned to the group of death. They only rely on themselves.”

“After watching this game, even if you really don’t want Japan to win, because it means it will be more difficult for the Chinese team to enter Paris, you still feel Japan’s game is too good,” read another comment on Weibo.

“Yes, their [Japan’s] ability level is far behind the Chinese team. But at the end of the game, I really felt that the Chinese team was not worthy of Olympic qualification,” one user wrote.”

Japan have boosted their chances of qualifying for the Paris Olympics. Photo: Kyodo

Other fans were just left feeling envious of the emotional scenes in Okinawa, with the crowd and many players reduced to tears after the match.

“The scene of the audience celebrating, and many players crying including Watanabe Yuta … It’s quite passionate, and as a Chinese fan, I also want to experience it,” said one.

“Alas, when will the Chinese men’s basketball team make us cry once again?” another asked.

“Full of memories, I look forward to the boys of the Chinese men’s basketball team bringing us the same excitement, come on!” a more optimistic fan wrote.



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