Yuta Watanabe confirms his participation in the Asia Cup
After Japan men’s basketball team was demolished by Ausrtalian counter part with the score of 52-98 in the FIBA World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifier, Yuta Watanabe confirmed by tweeting late Friday in JST that he would help them and play in the FIBA Asia Cup 2022, which begins on July 12 in Indonesia.
“アジアカップで日本代表に参加するため一旦日本へ帰ります✈️ (I will fly back to Japan and participate in the national team for the Asia Cup)” is the exact words he tweeted in Japanese. Earlier in June, Japan bench boss Tom Hovasse shared his expectation of Watanabe’s availability for the Asia Cup.
It means he will not be in the NBA 2K23 Summer League for any team.
Meanwhile, it is reported that Toronto Raptors have signed a 2-year deal with 6-8 forward Otto Porter Jr. and agreed to term with Chris Boucher and Thaddeus Young. These reported transactions by the Raptors and Porter’s departure from the Golden State Warriors along with the report that 6-3 guard Gary Payton II also will leave the Warriors after signing a 3-year deal with the Portland Trail Blazers ignite a speculation on Warriors’ possible acquisition of Watanabe as he seems to be a great fit for the NBA Champions with his versatility and defensive prowess.
Some reports put up question marks on Watanabe’s inconsistency in shooting during the 2021-22 season and expect him to leave Toronto for a new base for the 2022-23 season. However, when the Warriors already have established scorers in Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins Watanabe’s ability to defend and work as a high energy role player alongside the team’s core can be highly sought by them. And left-handed long athletic wing is determined to improve his offensive games as well.
Warriors’ plan to fly to Tokyo later this fall for the NBA Japan Games 2022 Presented by Rakuten gives it another dimension. They will play a couple games against Rui Hachimura and the Washington Wizards. The Warriors have already decided to add a Japanese player Yudai Baba on their Summer League squad. If Baba, or Watanabe, makes the Warriors’ preseason roster, it means a “Japanese duel” against Rui Hachimura on their own soil, which will without a question a ground-breaking entertainment for the local fans.
As of July 1 in JST, no official calls have been heard from Watanabe’s side yet in this free agency. His love for the city of Toronto is obvious as he said “I really loved the city of Toronto. So that will be good if I could keep contributing there as a Raptor.” to the GetsBas earlier in May.
In the Asia Cup, Watanabe and Japan national team opens its action against Kazakhstan on July 13. They play two more games against Syria and Iran in Group C and try to move up to the knock-out stage and compete for the Cup.
Text by Takeshi Shibata