After making a late charge to qualify for the FIBA World Cup, Japan was dealt a difficult group in Saturday's draw, with the Akatsuki Five set to face the United States, Turkey and the Czech Republic later this year.
The draw, held in the Chinese city of Shenzen, one of the host cities for the Aug 31-Sept. 15 tournament, leaves Japan with a mammoth task to advance past the first round.
The United States, with its squad filled with the world's best players, will be all but unbeatable, but Turkey and the Czech Republic will also put strong teams on the court, both teams having either current NBA players, players with NBA experience or players plying their trade in Europe's top leagues available.
All the group's games will be played in the Chinese megacity of Shanghai.
Japan almost did not make it this far, with the team's qualifying campaign getting off to a terrible start.
(Japan coach Julio Lamas hugs a player after the team beat Qatar to qualify for the World Cup)
It began the first round of Asian qualifying with a run of four straight losses, leaving the team's then-newly hired Argentinian coach Julio Lamas staring down an embarrassing early exit.
Needing to finish in the top three in its group, Japan's U.S. college standout Rui Hachimura entered the fray and helped it tough out a one-point win over Australia, the group's strongest team, before it beat Taiwan away to scrape into the second round.
Once into the second round, the team reeled off six further consecutive wins, helped by a short cameo from the NBA-bound Yuta Watanabe, to finish in second in its group, behind only Australia and ahead of Asian powers Iran and the Philippines.
Known as the FIBA World Championship from 1950 to 2010, the tournament in China will be the second held since it changed its name to the World Cup.
Japan last participated in the tournament in 2006 as host and qualified on three other occasions. The team's best finish is 11th, achieved in Montevideo, Uruguay, at the 1967 edition.
The World Cup features 32 teams drawn into eight first-round groups of four. The winners and runners-up in each opening-round group progress to a second group phase from which the top two teams in each of the four groups reach the quarterfinals.
From the quarterfinal stage, teams must win to move on, with the losers going into a classification bracket. The countries eliminated in the first round play a 16-team group classification tournament.