New Zealand smashes Japan 111-81 in FIBA World Cup classifications (updated)

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DONGGUAN, China, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) -- Eighteen three-pointers helped New Zealand smash Japan 111-81 in Group O of the classification round, taking its second victory in 2019 FIBA World Cup here on Saturday.

New Zealand's sharpshooter Corey Webster had team-best 27 points and Isaac Fotu added 23 points and 10 rebounds.

Nick Fazekas pocketed game-high 31 points but could not save Japan from losing. Daiki Tanaka with 10 points came out the only other Japanese player to have harvested scores in double digits.

"This win give us more confidence to play in next game against Turkey. We want to play in Tokyo Olympic Games, so every game is very important," New Zealand coach Paul Henare said.

A 15-2 run helped New Zealand build an early lead by 12 points, before Japan responded with a 17-5 run to equalize on 29-29 in the first quarter.

The turning point came in the second quarter as a crazy 26-10 run helped New Zealand to rebuild the lead by 16 points. They even widened the gap to more than 20 points in the third quarter and never looked back.

Japan's leading scorer Rui Hachimura, 21, who will play for NBA's Washington Wizards next season, didn't play in Saturday's game. He averaged 13.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game in the first round.

"Hachimura is really a good player, but I think his absence didn't affect too much in the game, every players of Japan tried their best to play," Henare commented.

"Although Hachimura is very important to us, we should pay more attention to the players who can play, and we should adjust our strategy according the players who can play," Japanese coach Julio Lamas said.

Japan lost to the United States, Czech Republic and Turkey in the first round, while New Zealand beat Montenegro but lost to Greece and Brazil in their own group.

"New Zealand is very powerful. Its advantages are clear. They did very well in defence, but we are not good in defence today," added Lamas. Enditem

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