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Yuta Watanabe helps Japan qualify for the Olympics

Via @wacchi1013/ X

Yuta Watanabe and Japan have secured their first non-automatic Olympic bid since 1976 after defeating Cape Verde 80-71 today.

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Watanabe, who signed with the Suns as a free agent this offseason, played all 40 minutes in today’s game, scoring five points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

He was obviously very emotional after the game. The Paris 2024 Olympics will be Japan’s second straight appearance in the Olympics after they had an automatic bid for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Overall, Watanabe averaged 14.8 points and 6.2 rebounds across Japan’s five games in the FIBA World Cup, despite suffering an ankle injury in warmup games for the tournament. Japan finished the tournament 3-2 with victories over Cape Verde, Venezuela and Finland and losses to Australia and Germany.

Helping Japan earn an Olympic bid is huge for Watanabe heading into the upcoming season with the Suns.

Watanabe, Eric Gordon (Bahamas), Deandre Ayton (Bahamas) and Chimezie Metu (Nigeria) have all built up extreme confidence this offseason after being key contributors for their respective national teams.

Suns’ Yuta Watanabe With Another Big Performance in Win vs Venezuela

Now, Watanabe will look to get fully healthy for the Suns upcoming season and rightfully celebrate a big accomplishment for his home country.

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Brendan Mau is a Phoenix Suns insider and college sports reporter for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on X via @Brendan_Mau

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