Though Japan has yet to win a game in the FIBA World Cup, Rui Hachimura has more than stood out.
The former Gonzaga star and No. 9 overall draft pick dropped a team-high 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds in Japan’s opening-game loss to Turkey, and then led the team with 21 points and six rebounds while shooting 8-of-12 from the field in a loss to the Czech Republic on Tuesday.
While the team can’t advance past the group stage with their first two losses in the books, Hachimura said he’s loved the experience — and can tell his game and his confidence have benefited, too.
“It’s been crazy,” Hachimura said, via the Associated Press. “I got drafted, went to D.C. and we had like a minicamp, then summer league and now the World Cup. It’s been a crazy summer, but I’ve been having fun with this experience, this process.
“I’ve played a lot of games this summer, everywhere. I don’t know how much I grew, but I have more confidence.”
Japan will take on the United States — who just narrowly escaped Turkey in overtime on Tuesday — on Thursday for their final group game, providing Hachimura an opportunity to go against fellow NBA players yet another time before heading back across the Pacific Ocean to start getting ready for the season.
Though the Wizards are likely ready to get Hachimura back, general manager Tommy Sheppard has been with him every step of the way this summer. He flew to Japan for the pre-tournament games, and then over to China to watch the team compete in the World Cup.
So far, he likes what he sees.
“He’s going to be a really nice player in the NBA,” Sheppard said, via the Associated Press. “He’s got a lot — a lot — of upside. He’s got a lot of learning to do, but he’s got excellent skill and excellent will. ... It just takes time, and we have to develop that.”
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