Tribune News Network
Japan join New Zealand in clinching direct ticket to quarter-finals of the FIBA U16 Asian Championship after 93-68 win over hosts Qatar at the Al Gharafa Hall on Monday.
The 2022 finalists came out of the gates looking to run and gun and immediately jumped out to a 37-point first quarter. Qatar were able to slow the pace down a bit, but the gap created in the first quarter was too big to overcome.
Japan had to withstand some runs made by Qatar but were able to counter by staying level headed with their balanced offense. Five players scored in double-digits for the victors, led by the hot-handed Ginga Sembo (17 points).
Hats off to another big game by Mohamed Massamba Ndao who had 32 points, 15 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals for 33 EFF.
The win is the second straight for undefeated Japan, who now clinch the top spot in Group B. As the top team in the group, Japan are directly qualified for the Quarter-Finals which will be played on 22 September.
New Zealand also clinched the top spot in Group C after their win over Jordan and Korea’s win over Bahrain, giving them a direct spot in the Quarter-Finals as well.
Standout player: Kenichiro Benedict’s game isn’t “loud” but he gets things done. He was one of the two players who recorded a double-double in this game for Japan with 15 points and 11 rebounds. His versatility was on display as well as he also recorded 3 assists, 2 blocks, and a steal while shooting 7-12 from the field - good for 27 EFF.
The other player to score a double-double was Chusonjakku Shiratani, Japan’s youngest player and the second young player in the competition, who had 11 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Turning point: Qatar had some momentum towards the end of the third quarter, cutting down the lead that was as big as 29 points down to almost 20. Then, with 1:35 minutes left, Ndao was subbed out for the first time in the competition and Japan went off for an 8-0 run to close the quarter, giving them their biggest lead in the game.
Stats don’t lie: Few teams can outshoot Japan. Qatar tried. Japan went 11-34 from beyond the three-point line. Qatar went 5-24.