Japan triumphs over China in historic FIBA Asia Cup qualifier victory


25th February 2024 – (Beirut)  Japan has secured a monumental victory over China with a 76-73 win in the FIBA Asia Cup 2025 Qualifiers, marking their first triumph in a major international contest since the pre-war era.

Yudai Baba, Japan’s talisman, put on a scintillating performance scoring a game-high 24 points on just 10 shots, leading the team to a nail-biting victory in Group C’s second round on Sunday. Joshua Hawkinson made a substantial contribution with a double-double, and the dynamic backcourt pair of Yuki Kawamura and Yuki Togashi added a combined 20 points to the scoreboard.

China, despite a strong showing, could not clinch the win. Hu Jinqiu was at the forefront with 23 points and 12 rebounds, while Hu Mingxuan’s 20 points underscored his scoring capabilities. Abudushalamu Abudurexiti provided valuable support from the bench, gathering seven points and 10 rebounds.

The Japanese fans had ample reason to celebrate, revelling not only in the team’s clean sweep in Window 1 but also in breaking the 88-year winless streak against their formidable opponents. This historic win harkens back to the 1936 legacy.

Acknowledging the significance of the victory, Japan’s head coach Tom Hovasse shared his pride and optimism, noting that such achievements bolster the team’s confidence, paving the way towards their ultimate goal, the Paris games. Yudai Baba echoed his coach’s sentiments, highlighting the team’s sustained physicality throughout the match.

The game commenced with China’s Coach Aleksandar Djordjevic’s squad taking an early lead, but Japan swiftly turned the tables, leveraging their agility against China’s height advantage. Despite a less-than-stellar 34.4 percent from the three-point line, Japan’s strategy of long-range shots coupled with a tenacious defensive stance proved effective against China, who struggled to establish a rhythm.

China’s Hu Jinqiu demonstrated his dominance in the paint, but the team’s overall performance from the three-point range was lacking, which was particularly evident as young Yang Hansen hit a stumbling block after an impressive debut.

As the game progressed, China saw a glimmer of hope when Hu Mingxuan drove through Japan’s defence, but their efforts were marred by missed opportunities and Japan’s quick counter-attacks, including Hawkinson’s notable dunk following a turnover.

The final moments were fraught with tension as China’s Cheng Shuaipeng landed a pivotal three-pointer, but Japan managed to resist the pressure, leaving Coach Djordjevic to reflect on the missed opportunities and the miscommunication that led to their defeat.

Djordjevic refrained from commenting on his future with the Chinese national team, dismissing the question as disrespectful, while acknowledging the team’s reliance on three-pointers and his players’ execution during the match.