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Japan downs HK for first win

Aldo Avinante (The Philippine Star) - August 2, 2013 - 5:45pm

MANILA, Philippines – Japan notched its first win in the tournament at the expense of the hard-fighting Hong Kong side with a 76-59 victory in the preliminary round of the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship at the MOA Arena in Pasay City Friday.

Japan flirted with disaster after only leading 41-40 at the end of the first half, but stepped up on defense in the second half especially in the fourth quarter.  They limited Hong Kong to only six points in the payoff period to run away with the win.

“We didn’t play good defense in the first half that is why it was close but in the second half our players improved their defense so I think that is the key to our win,” said Japan coach Kimikazu Suzuki.

Naoto Tsuji led the Japanese with 17 markers; Kosuke Takuchi added 12 points while naturalized import JR Sakuragi provided a 10-point, 12-rebound effort in only 22 minutes of playing time.

Japan is already assured of a spot in the second round after the suspension of Lebanon by FIBA due to internal conflict. Suzuki is well aware of the daunting task ahead and already named some of the Group A participants.

“We dropped a very close game yesterday that we could have won so we need to play better in the next round against Jordan, Philippines and Chinese Taipei,” said Suzuki.

Japan absorbed a sorry 74-75 loss to Qatar yesterday.

Chun Wai Fong paced Hong Kong with a game-high 23 points including four triples while Duncan Reid recorded 10 points and 10 rebounds in their losing effort.

ASIA CHAMPIONSHIP CHUN WAI FONG CITY FRIDAY DUNCAN REID GROUP A HONG KONG KIMIKAZU SUZUKI KOSUKE TAKUCHI NAOTO TSUJI PASAY PHILIPPINES AND CHINESE TAIPEI
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