Hachimura, Japan fall to Turkey in FIBA World Cup opener
Rui Hachimura and Team Japan tipped off group play against Turkey on Sunday, falling 86-67. Hachimura, who was under the weather with a fever, scored 15 points to along with seven rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Ersan Ilyasova led Turkey with 17 points and 10 rebounds, including 5-of-9 from 3-point.
Turkey started the game 10-of-14 from the field, putting Japan at a large deficit early. Cedi Osman, Semih Erden, and Ilyasova were difficult matchups for Japan, a team that does not have much size.
Hachimura missed morning practice because of the fever, but he did not make any excuses after the game. Turkey's game plan was to make life difficult for Hachimura, fouling him six times and double-teaming him often. Still, the 21-year old was able to convert from the free throw line, making 9-of-10 attempts on the day.
"For me and for the team, it was our first World Cup game," Hachimura told WashingtonWizards.com postgame. "We experienced first-hand how tough our opponent was and we couldn't perform at 100% today. We have another game coming so we need to bounce back quickly."
"Their defense was dominant. You could tell they were well-prepared. They made life difficult for me and my teammates and we weren't able to adjust."
The highlight of the game for Hachimura was in the second quarter. The incoming Wizards rookie stole the ball and Ilyasova was the last man standing for Turkey. Hachimura beat him off the dribble and slammed home a monster left-handed dunk over Ilyasova.
Next up, Japan will take on Czech Republic, who lost to Team USA Sunday. Hachimura is expecting a similarly difficult task, but he's up for the challenge.
"I would assume that the next opponent [Czech Republic] will have a similar defensive game plan, so I need to make better decisions in the game."