NICK Fazekas scored 41 points and grabbed 15 rebounds as Japan edged Kazakhstan, 86-70, on Monday at the Toyoma City Gymnasium.
Japan's naturalized player got ample support, with Makoto Hiejima adding 14 points and Yudai Baba contributing 11 points as Japan improved to 6-4 (win-loss).
Japan’s victory, fashioned out without US NCAA Rui Hachimura, made Team Pilipinas' match against Iran at the Mall of Asia Arena a must-win if the home team wants to stay in the frame for a World Cup berth in Group F.
A Philippine win will put it in a three-way tie for second place with Japan and Iran in the competitive group.
The top three teams in Groups E and F and the best fourth placer will qualify to the 2019 Fiba Basketball World Cup.
Kazakhstan slipped to 4-6, as it failed to follow up on its 92-88 win over Gilas on Friday on the road.
Alexandr Zhigulin had 23 points but only shot 5-of-13 from the field against Japan.