“The choice of drive wasn’t in my head at all.”
The Japan Women’s Basketball National Team played against Belgium in the Tokyo Olympics quarterfinals to advance to the final four.
It caught up with the tie many times, but it was far from a reversal, and such a painful development continued until the end. Even so, Japan did not give up, and with 16 seconds remaining in the 2-point behind, Saki Hayashi sank a 3-point shot and turned around at the last minute. He defended his last possession and won 86-85.
Hayashi, who scored a 3-point shot in the final, was crazy about it and the time was up. “I didn’t know if it was the end buzzer, and I was late for a second or two to say,’I won!’, But I was really happy from the bottom of my heart.”
Hayashi became the driving force behind the victory by successfully shooting 7 out of 11 3-point shots in the final round of the qualifying round against Nigeria. Therefore, as a matter of course, I received a thorough mark from Belgium and could not easily shoot with my own rhythm. Still, Hayashi succeeded in three out of eight three-point shots, including one in the reversal.
Hayashi says. “I often didn’t enter the next (big hit) match, and this was the case, but I was able to score three 3-point shots while I was making a great mark than before. I’m wondering if I was able to grow up. Even if I was denaired that much, there would be a scene where I could hit it, so I think I was able to learn that and also have a match to connect to next time. “
The team has players who are good at 3-point shooting, but it can be said that Hayashi and Naho Miyoshi are the two who can be called pure shooters. Of course, Hayashi is the starting lineup because he can do hard work even in defense. Still, that big shot was born because of his pride as a shooter.
“I wasn’t scared. I hadn’t shot before, but I didn’t have the choice to drive at all in my head. As long as I’m standing on the court, my mission is to do my job. I mean, I don’t feel much pressure, and I think I was able to hit it when I got it. “
“I’m really happy that I inherited Tom’s thoughts and won.”
Hayashi showed the strength to decide the clutch shot, but the calmness just before hitting the shot was also wonderful. In addition to the shortage of time left, the shot clock has 5 seconds left. Normally, it would be a scene where he would hit a shot the moment he got a pass, but Hayashi evaded one person with a shoot fake and calmly sank the shot. Hayashi talked about his feelings at that time.
“I got a pass a little far away because the number of seconds was short, but I thought that the other party jumped. I hit it from there as I practiced. I thought that I would not enter when I hit it. I thought it was a little big. I thought I would put it in for the time being (laughs). “
Japan, which has overcome the barrier of the best eight, will challenge the semi-final for the first time in history. Commander Tom Hovasse has been aiming to win a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics since he became head coach. I know how difficult the challenge is, but the players have believed in the words and made efforts because they have clear goals. Hayashi already has a clear vision.
“I’m really happy to have inherited Tom’s thoughts and won. I’ll win no matter where I come. I mean, Tom drew such a plan, and I thought it was such a plan, so I came here. So I definitely want to win and go to the final and win the gold medal. “