Japan departs from FIBA Olympic qualifying tournament
Cuba remain in the FIBA Olympic qualifying tournament after beating Japan(66-58). Yayma Boulet from Cuba finished the game with 24 points.
Japan came storming back in the final period to set up an exciting finish.
Brazil must win in the final match on Sunday to qualify for the Olympics.
The story of the Match
A lively opening by both sides had an early flourish of baskets (8-8). Ali Mitani from Japan hit the first trey of the match, immediately followed by one from beyond the arc from Yamara Amargo from Cuba.
The two teams continued their exchange of baskets with the lead changing five times times.
Yamara Boulet from Cuba gave the Japanese players a hard time. With her 12th point of the quarter (21-18) Cuba opened the first big lead and held it till the end of the period.
Clenia Noblet was the only player able to score in the beginning of the second period. With her 9 points Cuba stretched their lead (29-20) five minutes into the quarter.
Japan were struggling to get any shots on target and tried to work inside. However Cuba's physical stronger and taller players made it difficult for the opponents to get to the basket.
The Japanese used a lot of energy in trying to penetrate the Cuban zone. They were caught on the fast break with Plutin Yakelyn taking over the offensive duties of Boulet with back to back scores.
Japan only managed to hit 2-of-12 from behind the arc in the fast half of the match and failed to get to the free-throw line, which made things easy for their opponents.
All the same Cuba maintained their discipline and went into the locker room leading (37-26).
Japan, playing aggressively, started to find their way into the Cuban paint with Noriko Kioso scoring a few points.
Cuba weathered the storm and made use of their height advantage to keep the ball out of the hands of their opponents.
Cuba finally broke the resistance but not the spirit of Japan as Suchitel Avila hit a baseline jumper (45-33).
Japan ran and ran for the remaining four minutes of the period and finished on a high as Sachiko Ishikawa hit a three-pointer on the buzzer. However Cuba went into the final quarter leading (53-43).
When it comes to running then you count on Japan. They chased down everything as they attempted to unsettle Cuba. When Kumiko Yamada scored in the paint (59-54), Alberto Zabala called for a time-out for Cuba.
Japan was then on the run and Asami-Yoshida sprinted into the zone and reversed a lay-up (56-59).
Japan were winning all the rebounds but Cuba maintained their advantage as Yulizeny hit a jumper at the top of the key. She also put 1-of-2 from the foul line (62-58).
Japan had 58 seconds left to save the game and made things difficult for themselves. Boulet from Cuba managed to get a loose ball and scored (64-58).
Cuba had enough in reserve and went on to win (66-58).