Japan rallies to beat Venezuela in Fiba World Cup, closes in on Olympic berth


Japan’s team members celebrate after defeating Venezuela in their Basketball World Cup classification match in Okinawa, southern Japan, Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)

Japan is one win away from getting back to the Olympics.

Makoto Hiejima scored 23 points, Yuta Watanabe added 21 and Japan roared back from a 15-point third-quarter deficit to beat Venezuela 86-77 on Thursday in a classification round game at the Fiba World Cup in Okinawa, Japan.

Yuki Kawamura scored 19 for Japan (2-2), which would clinch a berth in the Paris Olympics with a win over Cape Verde on Saturday.

Garlo Sojo led Venezuela (0-4) with 20 points, and Nestor Colmenares added 17.

A win Saturday would give Japan its second consecutive Olympic berth. The team played in the Tokyo Games two summers ago as the host nation, but fans could not attend because of restrictions related to the pandemic.


At Okinawa, Lauri Markkanen scored 34 points and Finland (1-3) got its first win of the World Cup.

Ivan Almeida led Cape Verde (1-3) with 17 points.

At Manila, Carlik Jones nearly had a triple-double — 17 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds — as South Sudan (2-2) kept alive in the race to take the automatic Olympic qualifying berth from the African region.

Jordan Clarkson scored 24 for the Philippines (0-4).


At Jakarta, France got 13 points from Elie Okobo and 12 from Nando De Colo to improve to 2-2 and now has a chance to leave this World Cup with a winning record.

Rudy Gobert returned from an ankle issue and had nine points, nine rebounds and four blocks for France. Benham Yakhchali and Meisam Mirzaei led Iran (0-4) with 11 points apiece.

At Manila, Hu Jinqiu scored 20 points for China (1-3). Childe Dundao led Angola (1-3) with 17 points.


At Manila, Pako Cruz scored 27 points and Mexico (1-3) wasted most of a 19-point lead before holding on to top New Zealand.

Reuben Te Rangi led all scorers with 32 for New Zealand (1-3).


At Manila, Assem Marei had 20 points and 14 rebounds, Ehab Amin added 20 points and Egypt (2-2) pulled away in the fourth quarter.

Sami Bzai scored 18 for Jordan (0-4). Rondae Hollis-Jefferson played all 40 minutes, and had nine points.

At Jakarta, Amir Saoud scored 29 points and Omari Spellman added 25 to lead Lebanon (1-3) to its first win. Jean Phillipe Daily led Ivory Coast (1-3) with 21 points.

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