Matt Aquino listed in Japan's WCQ pool

Matt Aquino might suit up for the "Akatsuki Five" in the WCQ. MPBL (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--In a huge twist to his basketball career, Matt Aquino has been called up to the Japanese national team ahead of the first window of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers.

The Japanese Basketball Association announced on Monday that Aquino, the son of former Philippine Centennial Team member Marlou, will be part of a 24-man pool that would be considered for Japan's first matches in the WCQ.

The 25-year-old Aquino, whose grandmother is Japanese, has been holding a Japanese passport since his childhood days, making him eligible to play for Japan as a local.

If Aquino, who is currently playing for Shinshu in the B.League, gets to play for Japan in the November window, he would become ineligible to jump ships and play for Gilas Pilipinas.

But the six-foot-nine forward-center bared that he really wanted to join Japan's national team.

"I am honored to be selected as a candidate for the Japanese national team. I have been asking for play in Japan, so I am proud of this selection. I will do my best to produce results on behalf of Shinshu!” Aquino said through Shinshu's website.

Aquino is not the only Brave Warrior called up for the "Akatsuki Five" as Yuta Okada has been selected to the pool as well.

Completing the pool are Kosuke Takeuchi, Takatoshi Furukawa, Ryuichi Kishimoto, Makoto Hiejima, Aki Chambers, Luke Evans, Yuma Fujji, Yutaro Suda, Tenketsu Harimoto, Masaaki Morikawa, Kengo Nomoto, Yuki Togashi, Leo Vendrame, Shuta Hara, Shuto Ano, Takumi Saito, Keita Imamura, Eliet Kojima, Zack Moore, Ryo Terashima, Avi Schafer, and Yudai Nishida.

Japan begins its WCQ quest with back-to-back games against China at the Xebio Arena in Sendai on Nov. 27-28.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno