Hachimura tallies 21 points in Japan's loss to Czech Republic
Rui Hachimura and the Japanese National Team knew that weathering Group E at this year's FIBA World Cup would be a tough test for the growing basketball nation. On Tuesday in Shanghai, they held their own against the Czech Republic in their second game of the tournament, falling 89-76. Hachimura tallied a team-high 21 points (six rebounds, four assists) on 8-of-12 shooting to lead the valiant Japanese effort.
Former Wizard Tomas Satoransky’s 15 points and seven assists marshaled the Czechs to their first-ever FIBA World Cup victory. His supporting cast of Jaromir Bohacik and Blake Schilb tallied 22 points apiece, with the duo accounting for 10 of the Czechs’ 11 3-pointers on the night.
Hachimura was again the center of attention for the opposing defense, fighting around double-teams for much of the night. Former George Washington Colonial Yuta Watanabe added 15 points, while Nick Fazekas tallied 12. Despite Japan's improvements, it still played from behind for almost the entire game and trailed by as many as 15 in the final frame.
"Their defense was intense, but we did play better than the first game," said Hachimura. "We allowed them to take over in the third quarter, and just couldn't climb back."
Outside shooting was the major difference in the outcome, as Japan only managed to hit four shots from beyond the 3-point arc. Hachimura and co. trailed by just five points at the halftime break, but once the Czech Republic heated up in the second half, the inability to create perimeter looks made it hard to keep pace.
"A lot of those were second-chance points," said Hachimura. "Those hurt us a lot. We have to limit our opponents' offensive rebounds. As a team, we really need to pick up the intensity. That's something we all need to work on."
Japan will finish its Group E schedule on Thursday against the United States (8:30 A.M. ET, ESPN+).