COLOMBO (FIBA World Championship for Women) - Japan's rise to prominence in Asian women's basketball this year may have come as a surprise to some, but not Tatsushi Isshiki.
If anyone was certain that the country's national team was destined for glory on the continent, it was Isshiki.
The coach of the Japan team that is preparing to play at the FIBA U16 Asia Championship for Women in Sri Lanka, Isshiki helped in the development of two of the national team's biggest stars, Yuka Mamiya and Ramu Tokashiki.
Both players were 'Best Five' selections at the FIBA Asia Championship for Women that was just played in Bangkok, and Tokashiki was the most valuable player of the tournament after leading Japan to their first title since 1970.
"I am excited," Isshiki said to FIBA Asia.
"As you know, I've trained these girls from when they were very young.
"This win (gold at Bangkok) marks the start of a new era in Japanese women's basketball.
"I’m confident of this. I hope we can continue this success into the next Olympics (2016 Rio de Janeiro) and sustain it till the 2020 Tokyo Olympics."
When asked if there were more players like Tokashiki who are in the current under-16 squad, he answered: "We have some very good tall and talented players in this team as well.
"But they are not like Tokashiki. She was always a special player."
The 1.92m Tokashiki averaged 17.1 points and 8.9 rebounds at the FIBA Asia Championship for Women in Bangkok while 1.85m Mamiya averaged 13.7 points and 4.4 rebounds.
By clinching a top-three finish in Bangkok, Japan qualified for the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women in Turkey.