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3 players on Japan’s men’s basketball team you should know about before the FIBA World Cup

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Rui Hachimura is clearly Japan’s most important piece. But here are three other names to watch.

Japan v Germany - International Basketball Games
George Washington alumnus Yuta Watanabe is another player to watch for on the Japanese men’s basketball team.
Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images

The FIBA World Cup begins this weekend with Washington Wizards forward Rui Hachimura representing Japan in the world classic. If the Japanese are to advance to the knockout stages, Hachimura can’t do everything by himself. Here are three of his teammates on the Japanese team who you should know about.

Yuta Watanabe

Watanabe is a 6’10 forward who should be familiar to D.C. area college basketball fans. He played at George Washington and was the 2017-18 Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year. Watanabe has a two-way contract with the Memphis Grizzlies.

Check out some of his highlights below when he scored 20 points in a July 1 NBA Summer League game.

Nick Fazekas

Fazekas is an American center who naturalized for Japan and has played in their professional league, the B.League since 2012 for the Toshiba Kawasaki Brave Thunders. Fazekas started playing for Japan this year.

If you are wondering whether Fazekas has NBA experience, he does. He played one NBA season for the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers after being the 34th pick in the 2007 Draft.

After his only NBA season, Fazekas played for teams in Belgium, France and the Philippines before finding his second home in Japan.

As for video check out this 41 point, 15 rebound performance he had in an international match vs. Kazakhstan last December.

Ryusei Shinoyama

Ando is a 5’10 point guard who played his entire professional career for the Kawasaki Brave Thunders. He is also the team’s captain.

Detroit Pistons head coach Dwane Casey was once an assistant coach for the Japanese team. In an interview with the Japan Times, he said that guard play will be key for their success. Shinoyama will be a guard who the Japanese will rely on as they look to make the most of out of their World Cup journey.