Japan claimed a 73-48 win over Kazakhstan in the second round of basketball's Asian World Cup qualifying Group F on Tuesday, coming to life after finishing the second quarter tied 27-27 at Okinawa Arena.
Japan, the already-qualified co-host of next year's tournament, led by 12 points in the third quarter, helped by three early defensive rebounds from Nick Fazekas and all-round contributions from Yuki Kawamura, who went on to total five steals and seven assists.
Mustering only 14 defensive rebounds in the first two quarters at one of the venues for next year's tournament, 10 alone in the third quarter and better overall defending gave Akatsuki Japan a much-needed boost, with the host logging 24 turnovers to Kazakhstan's 14 by the end of the match.
Yudai Nishida led the 38th-ranked Japan with 13 points on a 6-for-10 shooting from the floor, followed by Yudai Baba's 11 points.
Anton Bykov scored 18 points on 16 shots for the 68th-ranked Kazakhstan, who outrebounded Japan 50-40 but shot just 28.6 percent from the floor and failed to stay in contention in the latter stages.
The 2023 FIBA World Cup will be co-hosted in Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines.