#FIBAOQT: Yuta Watanabe back to bolster Japan OQT roster

(Image from FIBA)
*This first appeared on FIBA.com.

Yuta Watanabe is an important new addition to the Japan squad for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Belgrade.

Head coach Kenji Hasegawa has named the 2.03m forward on his 12-man roster for the competition that runs 4-9 July. The Japanese must win the six-team event in Belgrade if they are to reach the Olympics for the first time since the 1976 Montreal Games.


Japan 12-player roster for 2016 FIBA OQT in Belgrade
Takatoshi FurukawaRyoma HashimotoMakoto HiejimaKenta Hirose
Keijuro MatsuiRyumo OnoAtsuya OtaYuta Tabuse
Joji TakeuchiKosuke TakeuchiNaoto TsujiYuta Watanabe

Watanabe featured for Japan at the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship but commitments at George Washington University in the United States, where the 21-year-old plays college basketball, prevented him from being a member of the team at last year's continental tournament. Despite being without their rising star, Japan still reached the Semi-Finals to clinch a spot in the OQT field.



Japan will compete in Group B of the OQT against the Czech Republic and Latvia and must finish in the top two if they are to advance to a Semi-Final and take on either Serbia, Angola or Puerto Rico out of Group A. The Semi-Final winners will ultimately square off in a do-or-die battle for Olympic qualification.



Other key men that Hasegawa has named are Joji Takeuchi, Makoto Hiejima and Yuta Tabuse. Japan's first game at the OQT will be against Latvia on 4 July.


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