Rui Hachimura is getting a much-needed respite from basketball.
Hachimura averaged 13.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists as Japan went 0-3 in FIBA World Cup pool play and failed to reach the round of 16. Japan faces two games in the qualification round beginning with New Zealand on Saturday, but Hachimura won’t play for load management reasons with the Washington Wizards opening training camp in three weeks.
Hachimura was experiencing knee discomfort and general fatigue, according to a Japanese Basketball Association (JBA) release.
“The Wizards and Japan Basketball have been operating under a carefully created load management plan to protect Rui’s health after a long NCAA season, the NBA draft and the NBA Summer League,” the JBA said. “While everyone had hoped for Rui to finish the World Cup with Team Japan, the Wizards and Japan Basketball believe it is best for Rui to not play the final two games and have a short period of rest before he must start NBA training camp with the Wizards.”
Hachimura has had few breaks from basketball between practices, training or games with Gonzaga and the Japanese national team. He’s been particularly busy in the last calendar year, helping Gonzaga reach the Elite Eight before making history as the first Japanese-born player selected in the draft’s first round.
The 6-foot-8 forward has handled intense media attention while playing with Washington in the summer league and for Japan at the World Cup.
“I love Team Japan,” Hachimura said in a JBA release. “This was a difficult decision for the Wizards, Japan Basketball and myself to make. I am still learning about my body and trust that the Wizards and Japan Basketball are doing everything they can to help me be the best I can be for the NBA season and the 2020 Olympics.”
Japan, which hasn’t played in the Olympics since 1976, has been granted host nation qualification for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Hachimura averaged 32.5 minutes, 18 points and 6.5 rebounds in Japan’s first two World Cup games. He was limited to four points and four boards in a 98-45 loss to Team USA on Thursday, but still managed to impress the opposition.
“Unbelievably athletic,” Team USA assistant coach Steve Kerr said in an interview posted on the Wizards’ twitter feed. “Just big, strong, fast. He has a lot of natural ability. Now it’s a matter of just building on his skill set and adapting to the NBA and just growing.”
“He’s really impressed me,” U.S. center Brook Lopez said. “Obviously, the talent alone, but even beyond that his motor, the way he plays the game, how hard he works, those are real special things that can’t really be taught.”
Hachimura shot 43.3% from the field, including 0 of 4 on 3-pointers. He made 14 of 20 free throws. He had four turnovers in 90 minutes.
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