The shot from Japan’s 5-foot-11 guard two steps from the 3-point line rang out in Korea.
The South Korean men’s basketball team fell to Japan 77-83 in the third game of Group D at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games on Tuesday at the Hangzhou Olympic Center Gymnasium in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China.
Japan came to the Asian Games with a young roster that was largely devoid of NBA players and World Cup contenders. Despite fielding an all-age squad, including two gold medalists from the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, South Korea was outplayed on offense by Japan.
The difference was especially stark in three-point shooting. Japan attempted 41 3-pointers and made 17 of them. South Korea attempted 28 and made 11. After the game, head coach Chu Il-seung said, “It’s unfortunate that we, with our height advantage, were not able to attack effectively under the basket. We couldn’t stop the Japanese players from making 3-pointers from under the basket,” said Chu.
“We had problems when our big men were out there, and we prepared some things to compensate for that, such as zone defense. However, there were times when it didn’t work, and they had a good shooting percentage. It was unfortunate that we got hit a lot when we used the zone defense.”
In particular, a deep three from Japanese captain Takumi Saito in the fourth-quarter shootout was deadly. Saito finished with 10 points and seven assists, including two game-winning 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. “Saito contributed to the win with his all-around play, scoring 10 points, grabbing two rebounds and dishing out seven assists,” praised Japan’s Basketball King.
In the 4:50 of the first quarter where he started in the Best 5, Saito went scoreless and only had two assists. His overall line was no points, one rebound, and five assists. Saito started the fourth quarter on the bench, but with South Korea down 65-66, he took the court again with five minutes left in the game, and his first play was a three-pointer.
With South Korea closing in and the tension at a fever pitch, he confidently attempted a ‘deep three’ and hit it. He had missed his previous three three-point attempts, but he was fearless and made it. Saito missed his first three three-point attempts, one in the first quarter, one in the second quarter, and one in the third quarter. Saito’s three-pointer with 4:40 left in the game put the final nail in the coffin for South Korea.
“Personally, I didn’t feel good shooting at the beginning of the game, so I tried to make a lot of passes and play a coordinated game instead, but I knew that the opportunity would come, and I just had to do what I’ve always done in training. It was a deep three, and I threw it as I’ve been practicing, and I’m glad it went in,” Saito said in the postgame press area.
Saito’s insertion off the bench for Japan paid off. Saito hit a three-pointer and then assisted Raita Akaho for a layup on the very next possession. She then hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to eight with 3:33 left in the game.
In addition to Saito, however, Japan had 10 of the 11 players in the game make a 3-pointer, from Akaho (2 makes/5 attempts) to Kumagai Ko (1/1), Nishino Yo (1/1), Sato Takuma (1/3), Ichikawa Masato (3/4), Kawashima Yuto (2/4), Hosokawa Kazuki (1/6), Imamura Keita (3/9) and Yoneyama Jabba (1/1). Ryo Terashima attempted one and missed. With all 11 players attempting 3-pointers, the team totaled 41 attempts and 17 successes. 메이저사이트
The basketball revolution that has been sweeping through the “rural” NBA seems to have arrived in Japan. When asked about the fact that everyone on the team seems to be confident shooting from outside, Saito said, “I think our basketball is small, so we can’t attack the paint zone well unless we have three-pointers and outside shots as weapons. If you don’t have guys who can shoot the ball and shoot it confidently, the defense doesn’t come at you. I think it’s a good thing that everybody is shooting it with confidence because that’s what basketball is all about.”
The 41 three-point attempts in 40 minutes weren’t a free-for-all, but rather planned plays with a clear purpose: to compensate for his lack of height, and a plan B in mind: to create space.