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Basketball - 06. June 2007.

JPN/THA - Japan canter through

Almost all the 12 players got an equal feel of the court as the coach took the opportunity to try out a few new game situations in preparation for the "bigger battles ahead."

"Korea and Chinese Taipei are going to prove our biggest hurdles. Therefore we really didn't sweat it out today," Utsumi said. Japan defeated Thailand 104-44, the latter using the Championship as a part of their preparations for the SEA Games.

"It was kind of difficult to keep the focus, but then I was repeatedly telling my players not to lose focus. These matches are always tricky, so we really needed to concentrate hard."

Japan play Chinese Taipei on Tuesday followed by their encounter on Wednesday. "The way they (Taipei) played today was a pleasant surprise. But we know where to attack them," Utsumi said.

Japanese captain Noriko Sakakibura too sounded confident for the back-to-back crucial games. "We know we'll have to keep them quiet in their fast breaks. And of course we need to improve on our rebounds."

Thailand coach Kim Jae Wong was rather equanimous about the result. "I'll have to repeat myself again and again that our focus is elsewhere. We know we don't stand a chance against these big guns."

"But then, our focus is completely different. I hope playing against these strong teams will toughen out my girls to fight it out in the Level I play-offs," he said.

S Mageshwaran
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