Phoenix Suns swingman Yuta Watanabe trained with the Japanese men's national team for the first time in around a year Sunday in preparation for the FIBA Basketball World Cup tipping off on Aug. 25.
Japan is co-hosting the World Cup alongside the Philippines and Indonesia, with head coach Tom Hovasse's team set to battle Germany, Finland and Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist Australia in Group E at Okinawa Arena.
The 28-year-old Watanabe, expected to shoulder much of Japan's scoring load in the absence of fellow NBA player Rui Hachimura, expressed excitement after joining his prospective national teammates at training camp in Tokyo.
"I just got here, so I still have a lot to learn, but I'm getting acquainted with the team really nicely. I'm looking forward to the next stage," said Watanabe.
Hovasse has made clear he does not plan to use Watanabe in a pair of warm-up games against New Zealand on Wednesday and Friday.
With guard Yuki Togashi celebrating his 30th birthday on Sunday, squad members presented the Chiba Jets sharpshooter with a cake and serenaded him.
"Now that I'm 30, I have to make sure I take care of myself," Togashi said.
Guard Yuki Kawamura, who missed four warm-up games in July through injury, took part in shooting practice.