Olympic Games

Toronto Raptors forward Yuta Watanabe scores 18 points as Japan defeats France in pre-Olympic friendly

The Japanese Senior Men's National Team appears to be ready to make some noise when it hosts the upcoming Olympic Games.

Led by 19 points from Washington Wizards forward Rui Hachimura and 18 points from Toronto Raptors forward Yuta Watanabe, Japan earned an 81-75 victory over France in a pre-Olympic friendly exhibition held in Saitama, Japan.

This is no small feat for Japan, as France was ranked No. 7 overall in FIBA's most recent installment of World Rankings. With just two NBA players in Hachimura and Watanabe, Japan built an early double-digit lead, entering the halftime break with a 16-point advantage.

Led by 16 points from Boston Celtics guard Evan Fournier, France didn't go away easily, but Japan's early advantage was too much to overcome. Fournier is one of five NBA players on a French roster that also features LA Clippers forward Nicolas Batum, Brooklyn Nets guard Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot, New York Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina and three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz.

Gobert finished the game with 11 points and eight rebounds.

Watanabe, who just wrapped his first full season as a member of the Raptors franchise, said leading into the Olympic Games that he makes an effort to impart the wisdom learned from his NBA teammates upon his teammates with the Japanese National Team.

This past season, the 26-year-old impressed Raptors brass enough for his two-way contract to get converted into a standard multi-year NBA contract. The experience Watanabe stands to gain as one of Japan's top-two scoring options at the Olympics will be extremely beneficial as he returns to the Raptors for camp ahead of the 2021-22 NBA season.

Japan, which is in Preliminary Group C at the upcoming Olympic Games, begins its schedule when it faces the Spanish National Team on Monday, July 26 at 8:00 a.m. ET.

Stick with NBA Canada for more updates surrounding Watanabe's performance with Japan at the Olympic Games.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

More from NBA.com

RJ Barrett, New York Knicks defence
Barrett up for defensive challenge in Year 3
Gilbert McGregor
wnba-ftr.jpg
2021 WNBA broadcast schedule
NBA.com staff
CONNECTICUT SUN’S JONQUEL JONES NAMED 2021 KIA WNBA MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Sun’s Jonquel Jones named 2021 MVP
NBA.com Staff
Scottie Barnes, Toronto Raptors
Nurse: Barnes' role will be "huge" for Raptors
Kyle Irving
Connecticut Sun Head Coach Curt Miller Named 2021 Coach Of the Year
Sun's Curt Miller named Coach Of the Year
NBA.com Staff
Former Raptors guard Kyle Lowry is now a member of the Heat
Lowry will kick Heat into new gear
Scott Rafferty
More News