It’s been a minute and we can’t remember when we first noticed Japanese basketball, but it was either in FIBA World Cup play or the Olympics a while back and they just looked like a spirited, creative and really fun team, especially on the perimeter. We wrote about them at the time and said something like it was a real pleasure to watch them.
Well it still is.
Look at this footage from Japan’s win this week over Finland. That team is wonderfully creative and fun to watch. Basketball has been big in Europe and South America for some time of course and much more so since the Dream Team in 1992. That team sparked a real passion for the game in places like Spain, France and Argentina.
That hasn’t happened as much in Asia. The NBA is massively popular of course - it’s a huge market for the NBA - and the Philippines may be the most basketball crazy country in the world. Honestly, we would have bet on either of those two countries as being the place in Asia where the game took off first.
Japan seemed like an unlikely candidate.
But when you watch this team play - and keep in mind that Rui Hachimura, Japan’s best player is not playing - it’s impossible not to like and admire them. We hope they continue to thrive and that we get a lot more opportunities to see them. They’re doing it the right way.