Fixture: USA vs Japan
Date & Time: Thursday 5th September - 8:30 AM (ET)/6:00 PM (IST)/8:30 PM (PHT)
Venue: Shanghai Oriental Sports Center, Shanghai
Last game result
USA: 93-92 victory over Turkey (September 3rd)
Japan: 76-89 defeat to Czech Republic (September 3rd)
Team USA's latest encounter with Turkey provided a nail-biting experience for basketball fans across the world. But at the same time, it exposed the weaknesses of this severely understaffed American squad. Moreover, 20-year-old Jayson Tatum will sit out due on ankle injury he suffered late in the game against Turkey, aggravating Coach Pop's concerns as they advance in the tournament. Nevertheless, they have won two straight to top Group E with 4 points and have booked a spot for themselves in the second round.
On the other hand, Japan have so far lost both their games (to Czech Republic and Turkey) and as a result, are out of FIBA World Cup contention. Going into this clash against the mighty Americans, the Japanese will have nothing to lose as they'll be playing for pride and so it might just result in a stirring matchup to end the first round.
USA - Kemba Walker
Being the captain of this squad, the 29-year-old has been leading from the front with example. In games played so far, Walker is averaging a decent 13.5 points and 5.5 assists per game, showcasing his characteristic step-back treys on multiple occasions. He's playing with confidence and does not appear to be bothered by any competition on an individual basis.
Japan - Rui Hachimura
Rui Hachimura is the first Japanese ever to be drafted in the first round, and he's proving a point even before the NBA regular season tips off. As was expected of the Wizards' latest addition, the 21-year-old has averaged an imposing 18.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game thus far in the tournament. Unlike his team, Hachimura has been fairly impressive with his efficiency (50% shooting from the field) and athleticism.
Predicted starting lineups
USA: Kemba Walker, Donovan Mitchell, Harrison Barnes, Myles Turner, Khris Middleton
Japan: Rui Hachimura, Yudai Baba, Nick Fazekas, Daiki Tanaka, Yuta Watanabe
The Japanese will go all out in their last game of the World Cup tournament and so Team USA needs to be cautious as well as effective in their approach. Chances are that the Americans will breeze through this one, given their elite skill level and Japan's no shows in the recent past.