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Monday, November 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura’s contributions help Japan earn spot in 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura dribbles against Texas Tech in the second half of Saturday’s Elite Eight game. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura dribbles against Texas Tech in the second half of Saturday’s Elite Eight game. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura is positioned to add another significant accomplishment to his basketball career.

Japan’s men’s and women’s basketball teams will compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after being granted host nation qualification places, according to FIBA, the sport’s governing body.

The Japanese men’s team hasn’t competed in the Olympics since the 1976 games in Montreal.

Hachimura, a native of Toyama, Japan, is an important player on the country’s senior national team. Japan lost its first four games in the FIBA 2019 World Cup preliminary rounds before rallying to win eight straight and qualify for the World Cup, which begins Aug. 31 in China. That winning streak helped solidify Japan’s credentials for a spot in the 2020 Olympic Games.

Hachimura missed some qualifying games because Gonzaga was in the middle of its 2019 season, but he helped Japan post important victories in June, July and August, including an upset victory over Australia. Former Zag forward Ira Brown, who has obtained Japanese citizenship, contributed to a pair of Japan’s wins in September.

Japan has played in six Olympics with its highest finish 10th in 1956 and 1964.

Hachimura averaged a team-high 19.7 points and was second in rebounding (6.5) as Gonzaga (33-4) reached the Elite Eight before falling to Texas Tech on Saturday in Anaheim.

The 6-foot-8 junior forward hasn’t announced his intentions but most believe he’ll forego his last season at Gonzaga. He’s projected as a first-round pick, often as a lottery pick (top 14), in numerous NBA mock drafts.

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