FIBA Women's Asia Cup: Japan's four-peat chances rest on Ramu Tokashiki

Ramu Tokashiki was named the MVP in 2013 and 2015, and has also featured in the prestigious WNBA for Seattle Storm.

Japan hoopster Ramu Tokashiki, during practice ahead of FIBA Women's Asia Cup basketball tournament at Sree Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru on Monday.

Japan hoopster Ramu Tokashiki, during practice ahead of FIBA Women's Asia Cup basketball tournament at Sree Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru on Monday.   -  K Murali Kumar

Japan’s chances of recording a four-peat in the FIBA Women's Asia Cup basketball tournament rest heavily on forward Ramu Tokashiki. The pressure of leading her side is sure to test Ramu to the full, as she is making a comeback from an ankle injury.

But there is no doubting Ramu’s exceptional talent. The 28-year-old was named the ‘Most Valuable Player’ in the 2013 and 2015 editions of this tournament, and has also featured in the prestigious WNBA for the Seattle Storm franchise.

Ramu is thrilled to be back on the court for her national team, having last worn the Japan jersey in the 2016 Rio Olympics. “It’s been a long time since I played for Japan. I want to show that I can do well at this level,” Ramu said.

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Ramu draws confidence from her three-year WNBA stint (2015-17). In her debut year, she averaged 8.2 points per game and 3.3 rebounds per game to be named in the WNBA All-Rookie Team. The next two seasons, however, were a disappointment, after being named in the starting five in just two games.

Playing in the United States of America presented challenges both on and off the field. “American players are taller, stronger and generally more self-confident than Japanese players. Americans also focus on keeping possession, while Japanese basketball is all about speed.

"Of course, there are cultural differences too, but I am quite flexible and I can adjust easily. The other big difference is that in Japan, the women's league is not entirely professional. But in America, immediately after a WNBA game, a player can be suddenly cut from the team. The competition is severe," the 6’ 4” hoopster said.