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Samurai Japan reveals star-studded 24-man roster for Tokyo Olympics, Twitter explodes

Samurai Japan reveals star-studded 24-man roster for Tokyo Olympics, Twitter explodes
16/06/2021
Manager Atsunori Inaba brought back 13 players from the WBSC Premier12 2019 championship squad, but reshaped the pitching staff.

World No. 1 Japan announced their 24-man roster for the Tokyo Olympic baseball event, generating a major buzz on social media. The roster features the biggest names from Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB).

Manager Atsunori Inaba said: "Despite the unforeseen postponement of the Games by one year, my goal is to win the gold medal. That will not change. We have chosen 24 people to make that happen."

PITCHERS (11): Tomoyuki Sugano (Yomiuri Giants), Koyo Aoyagi (Hanshin Tigers), Suguru Iwazaki (Hanshin Tigers), Masato Morishita (Hiroshima Toyo Carp), Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Orix Buffaloes), Masahiro Tanaka (Rakuten Golden Eagles), Yasuaki Yamasaki (Yokohama DeNA Bay Stars), Ryoji Kuribayashi (Hiroshima Toyo Carp), Yudai Ohno (Chunichi Dragons), Kota Nakagawa (Yomiuri Giants), Kaima Taira (Yokohama DeNA Bay Stars).


CATCHERS (2): Takuya Kai (Fukuoka Softbank Hawks), Tsubasa Aizawa (Hiroshima Toyo Carp)

INFIELDERS (6): Tetsuto Yamada (Tokyo Yakult Swallows), Sosuke Genda (Saitama Seibu Lions), Hideto Asamura (Rakuten Golden Eagles), Ryosuke Kikuchi (Hiroshima Toyo Carp), Hayato Sakamoto (Yomiuri Giants), Munetaka Murakami (Tokyo Yakult Swallows)


OUTFIELDERS (5): Kensuke Kondoh (Nippon Ham Fighters), Yuki Yanagita (Fukuoka Softbank Hawks), Masataka Yoshida (Orix Buffaloes), Seiya Suzuki (Hiroshima Toyo Carp) and Ryoya Kurihara (Hawks)

The core of the team (13 players) comes back after winning the WBSC Premier12 2019, including star shortstop Sakamoto and Premier12 MVP slugger Suzuki.

Inaba made the most changes with the national team pitching staff, adding top starters Sugano, Tanaka, Aoyagi and Morishita. Ohno is the only pitcher on the roster who started for Samurai Japan at the Premier12 2019. Rookie Kuribayashi is the probable closer.

Former Major League Baseball (MLB) star Masahiro Tanaka said: "I am very honoured to be selected as a member of the Japanese National Team, and I am happy to be able to fight with the Japanese flag on my back again. I was disappointed at the last Olympics in Beijing [where Japan failed to medal], so I will try my best to win the gold medal this time."

Inaba is sticking with the same national team coaching staff with whom he won the Premier12, including Makoto Kaneko, Yoshinori Tateyama, Yoshinori Murata, Hirokazu Ibata and Masaji Shimizu.

Japan will compete in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic baseball tournament with Israel, Korea (2008 gold medallists), Mexico, USA and the winner from the upcoming WBSC Baseball Final Qualifier between the Dominican Republic, the Netherlands and Venezuela.

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