Sports | Feb 10

Japan's Women's Basketball Team Faces Setback with Loss to Hungary

Hungary, Feb 10 (News On Japan) - In the second game of the Olympic World Qualifying Tournament for women's basketball, Japan faced a tough match against Hungary and was defeated with a score of 75 to 81, postponing their chance to secure a spot in the Olympics to the final game against Canada.

The qualifying tournament, held in Hungary, pits four teams against each other in a round-robin format, with the top three teams earning a spot in the Paris Olympics. Japan, ranked 9th in the world and coming off a convincing win against Spain in the opening game, needed a victory on the 9th in their second match against the 19th-ranked home team Hungary to clinch their third consecutive Olympic appearance.

The game started with Japan taking the lead in the first quarter, leveraging tight defense against their taller opponents and gaining a 9-point advantage at 22 to 13, thanks to two three-point shots by Maki Takada. In the second quarter, captain Saki Hayashi continued the momentum with consecutive three-pointers, extending the lead to 13 points at one stage. However, Japan struggled to secure rebounds against Hungary's height, and the score was tied at 32 by halftime.

Entering the third quarter, Japan found it difficult to execute their offense against Hungary's defense, unable to make their signature three-point shots and allowing Hungary to take the lead due to offensive mistakes. Trailing by 5 points in the fourth quarter, Japan managed to tie the score multiple times with three-pointers from Hayashi and consecutive points from Mai Yamamoto, but ultimately couldn't stop Hungary's shots at critical moments, ending the game 75 to 81.

As a result, all four teams in Japan's qualifying group stand with a 1-1 record, leaving Japan's Olympic qualification to be decided in the final game against the world's 5th-ranked Canada on the 11th. A win against Canada would secure Japan's third consecutive Olympic appearance, while a loss would leave their fate dependent on the outcomes of the matches between Spain and Hungary.

Captain Saki Hayashi analyzed the defeat, stating, "We couldn't make our outside shots and couldn't create the atmosphere to play the game we wanted. Not being able to play fast basketball was our downfall." Looking ahead to the game against Canada, she expressed determination, "We need to communicate as a team, play a good game, and win to bring home the Olympic ticket."

Mai Yamamoto, who scored a team-high 15 points and 8 in the fourth quarter alone, reflected on her performance saying, "I had the feeling that I didn't want to lose, so I decided to take the initiative and shoot when I was open." With Olympic qualification at stake in the game against Canada, she looked forward, saying, "We want to play Japanese basketball and definitely make it to the Olympics."

Head Coach Toru Ontsuka of the Japan women's basketball team remarked, "The players did their best, but I regret not being able to lead them to victory. I believe our defeat was due to not being able to fully execute what we had prepared, even though we were studied by our opponents." Regarding the upcoming game against Canada, he said, "We won't be discouraged; we'll regroup and fight as one team."

Source: NHK


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