CHANGSHA, China – Japan leaned on its torrid shooting to stun Qatar, 81-67, and advance to the Fiba-Asia Championship semifinals for the first time in almost two decades.
Takatoshi Furukawa finished with 22 points in leading the Japanese charge as it torched the Qataris from the outside behind a sizzling 67 percent shooting from beyond the arc right in the first quarter to set the tone for the match.
Furukawa was at the forefront of the scoring rampage, drilling 3-of-4 from three-point range as the Japanese jumped off to a 28-13 lead at the end of the first period, never to look back.
It was the first time Japan made the semis of the biennial meet since finishing runner-up to Korea during the 1997 edition in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Japan will now face the winner of the other quarterfinal between Gilas Pilipinas and Lebanon. Gilas has beaten Japan twice over the last three weeks - once in the Jones Cup and again in the first round of the preliminaries.
“We’re very happy with the win. Team chemistry was good,” said coach Kenji Hasegawa through an interpreter.
The Qataris trailed by as many as 22 points (59-37), and though they managed to cut the deficit to 62-70 with 4:26 left in the game, the team never really got to display the form that made them finished as the no. 2 team in Group F behind host China.
Japan (81) - Furukawa 22, Hiejima 17, Takeuchi 15, Tabuse 12, Ota 7, Hirose 5, Tanaka 2, Ono 1, Matsui 0, Arao 0.
Qatar (67) - Johnson 16, Mohamed 13, Mohamed Mohd 12, Erfan 10, Khalid 4, Ali 3, Saad 3, Abdulla 3, Daoud 2, Adam 1.
Quarterscores: 28-13; 46-32; 63-50; 81-67.