News in Pictures / Japan Men’s Basketball Team Qualifies for Paris Olympics

Daisuke Urakami / The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Japan men’s basketball team poses for a group photo after beating Cape Verde in the FIBA Basketball World Cup to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics at Okinawa Arena in Okinawa City on Saturday.

With an 80-71 victory over Cape Verde at the FIBA Basketball World Cup on Saturday night, Japan qualified for next year’s Paris Olympics as the highest-ranked team in Asia.

The World Cup is being cohosted by Japan, the Philippines and Indonesia. Saturday’s game at Okinawa Arena in Okinawa City, held as part of the classification round for the No. 17-32 world rankings, was the final game for Japan.

Daisuke Urakami / The Yomiuri Shimbun
From left: Center Joshua Hawkinson dunks during the match against Cape Verde in Okinawa City on Saturday. / Point guard Yuki Kawamura dribbles against Cape Verde on Saturday. / Forward Yuta Watanabe goes up for a jump shot on Saturday.

Japan finished the World Cup with three victories and two losses, including its games in the first round.

The basketball team became the first among Japan’s group ball sports to qualify for the Paris Olympics. This is also the first time since the 1976 Montreal Olympics for Japan’s men’s basketball team to qualify for the Olympics on its own, rather than participating as the host country team.

Before Saturday’s game, Japan defeated Finland during the first round and Venezuela during the classification round.

The team held a press conference in Okinawa City on Sunday and expressed excitement over qualifying for the Olympics.

Daisuke Urakami / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Left: Coach Tom Hovasse gestures in Okinawa City on Saturday after qualifying for the Olympics. / Right: Supporters congratulate the Japan team.

Coach Tom Hovasse was confident, saying the team had done very well but could do more.

Yuta Wananabe, who had been saying he would retire from the national team if it didn’t qualify for the Olympics, thanked his fellow members. “I can probably keep wearing this uniform now,” Watanabe said.

Team captain Yuki Togashi said, “All of us felt that the national team had to win in order to make basketball a major sport [in Japan].”

Daisuke Urakami / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Team members celebrate after their victory over Cape Verde on Saturday in Okinawa City.