Makoto Hiejima took control of the situation on his own as Japan once again rallied from behind and thwarted Venezuela with a final score of 86-77 in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023. This victory on Thursday evening at the Okinawa Arena propelled Japan up the rankings.
In the crucial fourth quarter, Hiejima, a seasoned player in the national team, contributed 17 out of his total 23 points. His exceptional performance enabled his team to overcome a 15-point disadvantage earlier in that quarter.
This triumph holds immense importance as it brings them closer to securing a spot in the prestigious Paris 2024 Olympics. The remarkable spirit that the team had exhibited against Finland in the First Round resonated with the packed crowd of 7,374 attendees.
The dedicated fans are sure to show up once again at the venue when Akatsuki Japan takes on Cape Verde at 16:10 local time on Saturday, aiming to solidify their position for the Olympic qualification.
Yuki Kawamura’s impressive performance, earning him 19 points and 11 assists, marked a historic achievement for Japan. He became the first player to achieve a double-double in points and assists for Japan in a World Cup game.
Watch the game highlights between Japan and Venezuela in the First Round of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023: