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Rui Hachimura, Moe Wagner appreciative of opportunity to represent in Rising Stars game

Rui Hachimura, Moe Wagner appreciative of opportunity to represent in Rising Stars game

CHICAGO -- Rui Hachimura and Moe Wagner had to remind themselves they were playing in a showcase and not a real game. On Friday night, as they represented the Wizards in the Rising Stars Challenge, both were tempted to do things they are known for but that don't generally fly in an exhibition. 

For Hachimura, that was his midrange shot. In the second quarter, he drove right and pulled up for a 15-footer. It was the type of move he makes several times a game for the Wizards. But in the Rising Stars game, no one shoots midrange shots.

"It was funny. In the game, I shot a midrange and they were like 'no, no midrange, only threes and dunks.' But I'm like, that's my game," Hachimura said.

Wagner had several opportunities to do what he does best; take a charge. In the third quarter, on back-to-back plays Warriors rookie Eric Paschall drove right at him. Wagner could have squared up, set his feet and taken the hit. Instead, he wrapped Paschall up for a foul.

Wagner, though, admitted he thought about it.

"I would have in a real game," he said. "I would have never taken it [in this setting]."

Though they were on the losing side with Team World, both Hachimura and Wagner fared well on the All-Star stage. Hachimura had 14 points as a starter and Wagner had 16 off the bench.

They came away from the experience appreciative they were able to represent the Wizards and also their home countries.

"I'm just proud of myself and proud to be Japanese," Hachimura said. "I think a lot of people were watching in Japan. I just want to grow basketball in Japan."

"[It hit me] when I saw my flag," Wagner said. "Germans are not like Americans like super patriotic... it was cool."

Hachimura and Wagner are a testament to the globalization of basketball. Now it is commonplace to have stars hail from countries all over the world.

Hachimura was the first Japanese-born player to participate in the Rising Stars game. He was also the first player from the country ever drafted in the first round.

Basketball's international growth was on display during a timeout in the first half when Wagner along with other players on Team World kicked a basketball around in a circle. They had clearly all grown up playing soccer, which is the No. 1 sport in most countries, including Germany.

"That was amazing," Wagner said. "I bet only two or three American players could do that... I was probably the worst one at it."

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On this date in tournament history: Chris Webber calls timeout

On this date in tournament history: Chris Webber calls timeout

The Michigan Wolverines were down two points to the North Carolina Tar Heels with 19 seconds to play in regulation in the second half of the 1993 NCAA National Championship game.

After grabbing the rebound off the missed free throw attempt, Michigan star Chris Webber (23 points, 11 rebounds) established his pivot foot, re-angling his body towards the basket, locked in a one-possession game with the championship on the line. 

Webber attempted to dish the ball off to a teammate, but after seeing a lurking Tar Heel, the future No. 1 pick continued his dribble towards halfcourt. 

The travel call was missed by the officiating staff, but not by the broadcast crew.

"Oh, he walked," Bill Packer exclaimed on the broadcast. "He walked and the referee missed it!"

CBS announcer Jim Nance continued on with the gameplay, as only 12 seconds remained on the clock in regulation.

"Webber brings it into the frontcourt," Nantz said. "They have no timeouts remaining."

If only someone had told him.

Webber, trapped in the left corner by a UNC double-team, signaled for time, resulting in a technical foul shot for the Tar Heels as well as possession.

"He called a timeout," Nantz said. "Michigan doesn't have any!"

At the opposing foul line, UNC's Donald Williams (25 points) knocked down both free throws, increasing their lead to four points with 11 seconds remaining. 

From there it was all over.

North Carolina 77, Michigan 71.

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On this date in tournament history: Emeka Okafor leads UConn over Georgia Tech to win national championship

On this date in tournament history: Emeka Okafor leads UConn over Georgia Tech to win national championship

Before he departed on a very successful NBA career, former Wizards center Emeka Okafor was a standout member of the UConn Huskies.

In 2004 the Huskies went on to win their final nine games of the season before they captured the Big East championship.

After making their way through the NCAA Tournament bracket, the only team standing in coach Jim Calhoun's way were the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, lead by future Wizards guard Will Bynum (17 points, five assists).

Georgia Tech didn't back down early, taking a 12-11 lead over the Huskies with 13:41 to go in the first half. 

Okafor (24 points, 15 rebounds) scored to give UConn the lead right back, and they never trailed again.

At halftime, the Huskies lead the Yellow Jackets by a staggering 15 points and they kept their foot on the gas to start the second half.

The Huskies were able to extend their lead to 25 during the second half before Bynum at Georgia Tech came roaring back, but by then, the game was out of reach.

UConn emerged with an 82-73 victory over the Yellow Jackets, led by Okafor and future NBA journeyman Ben Gordon (21 points).

Okafor was named the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player.

UConn's women's basketball team would go on to win its national championship a day later against the Tennessee Volunteers.

Connecticut became the first school ever in Division I to win NCAA titles in men's and women's basketball in the same season. 

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