Japan takes down Venezuela at WC, closes in on Olympic berth

Japan is one win away from getting back to the Olympics.

Makoto Hiejima scored 23 points, Yuta Watanabe added 21 and Japan roared back from a 15-point third-quarter deficit to beat Venezuela 86-77 on Thursday in a classification round game at the Basketball World Cup in Okinawa, Japan.

Yuki Kawamura scored 19 for Japan (2-2), which would clinch a berth in the Paris Olympics with a win over Cape Verde on Saturday.

Garlo Sojo led Venezuela (0-4) with 20 points, and Nestor Colmenares added 17.

A win Saturday would give Japan its second consecutive Olympic berth. The team played in the Tokyo Games two summers ago as the host nation, but fans could not attend because of restrictions related to the pandemic.

Also in Okinawa, Lauri Markkanen scored 34 points and Finland (1-3) got its first win of the World Cup, 100-77 over Cape Verde.

Ivan Almeida led Cape Verde (1-3) with 17 points.

In Manila, Carlik Jones nearly had a triple-double — 17 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds — as South Sudan (2-2) defeated the Philippines 87-68 to stay alive in the race to take the automatic Olympic qualifying berth from the African region.

Jordan Clarkson scored 24 for the Philippines (0-4) in the loss.

China (1-3) defeated Angola (1-3) 83-76 on Thursday in Manila.

Hu Jinqiu scored 20 points for China in the win. Childe Dundao led Angola with 17 points in the loss.

Also in Manila, Pako Cruz scored 27 points as Mexico (1-3) wasted most of a 19-point lead before holding on to top New Zealand 108-100.

Reuben Te Rangi led all scorers with 32 for New Zealand (1-3).

Assem Marei had 20 points and 14 rebounds, Ehab Amin added 20 points as Egypt (2-2) cruised past Jordan, 85-69, in Manila.

Sami Bzai scored 18 for Jordan (0-4). Rondae Hollis-Jefferson played all 40 minutes, and had nine points.

France got 13 points from Elie Okobo and 12 from Nando De Colo in their 82-55 victory over Iran in Jakarta to improve to 2-2,

Rudy Gobert returned from an ankle issue and had nine points, nine rebounds and four blocks for France, which and now has a chance to leave this World Cup with a winning record.

Benham Yakhchali and Meisam Mirzaei led Iran (0-4) with 11 points apiece.

Also in Jakarta, Amir Saoud scored 29 points and Omari Spellman added 25 to lead Lebanon (1-3) to its first win, a 94–84 victory over the Ivory Coast.

Jean Phillipe Daily led Ivory Coast (1-3) with 21 points.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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