After Japan’s unexpected victory over Finland in the FIBA World Cup, new Phoenix recruit Yuta Watanabe and his teammates celebrated, but Watanabe admitted that he has been playing with an injury.
“Regarding my leg, many people have advised me to take a break and focus on the upcoming season,” he said in a tweet. “However, when I injured my leg in the games against Angola and Germany, I thoroughly examined it and made sure it was not a serious injury before continuing to play. I am proceeding with caution, and rest assured that if there are any concerns, the coaching staff and our team doctor will stop me.”
Watanabe had a noticeable limp during the game and only scored four points in 30 minutes, while his teammates Joshua Hawkinson (28 points, 19 rebounds) and Yuki Kawamura (25 points, nine assists) led Japan to their first-ever victory over a European team.
The home crowd’s support, coupled with a remarkable comeback from an 18-point deficit, inspired Japan to take action.
After the team’s first game against Germany, Watanabe was critical of the crowd, but this time he quickly praised the fans.
“The atmosphere yesterday was fantastic,” Watanabe wrote. “I am truly grateful to the people who bought tickets at short notice and filled the seats. A special mention goes to the original ticket holders and the passionate supporters who remained undeterred, even with numerous empty seats during the match against Germany. Looking forward to the next game!”
Japan’s next game will be a crucial match against Australia on Tuesday night.
Image Source: Yuta Watanabe @ Instagram