Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura scored 24 points as Japan stunned Australia 79-78 Friday in Chiba, Japan, for a crucial FIBA World Cup qualifier victory.
Japan was 0-4 in Group B before notching “the most historic win in Japanese basketball,” according to a FIBA.com article. Japan faces Taiwan on Monday in Taipei with the winner advancing to the next round.
Former Nevada and NBA player Nick Fazekas, who became a naturalized Japanese citizen in April, had 25 points and 12 rebounds. Hachimura, a rising junior forward at GU, and Fazekas combined for four 3-pointers, the team’s only connections beyond the arc. Hachimura grabbed seven rebounds.
Hachimura’s dunk with seven seconds left gave Japan a 79-74 lead and clinched the victory.
“I’m happy we won as a team, so it feels great,” Hachimura told the Japan Times.
Australia (4-1), which beat Japan 83-58 in an early qualifier last November in Melbourne, was led by Chris Goulding’s 22 points. Former Saint Mary’s star Matthew Dellavedova had four points and eight assists and Thon Maker scored 13 points.
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