Japanese breaststroke swimmers Yasuhiro Koseki and Ippei Watanabe on Friday said Rio de Janeiro Olympic gold medalist Dmitriy Balandin of Kazakhstan could still be the man to beat at the Asian Games despite a lackluster buildup.

Rio 200-meter winner Balandin “hasn’t produced a good time in competition recently, but I am sure he is fast nevertheless,” Koseki, 26, told reporters after training at Gelora Bung Karno Aquatic Center in Jakarta.

“It’s hard to read him but he is definitely strong when it counts,” added Koseki, the 2017 world championships 200 silver medalist.

(Koseki (front) and Watanabe compete at the  Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Tokyo on Aug. 12)

Balandin, who completed a triple crown in the breaststroke races at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, missed out on a medal at the 2017 worlds in Budapest.

Watanabe said he planned to stay calm and swim his own race at the Asian Games, which officially open Saturday. The strategy paid off for the 21-year-old last Sunday at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Tokyo, where he won the 200.

Watanabe said he remembered watching on TV as a high schooler when Balandin won the 200 at the 2014 Asian Games.

“I was amazed that such a swimmer just came out of the blue,” said 200 world record holder Watanabe, who has vowed to better his mark of 2 minutes, 6.67 seconds at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“For this year, I have set a goal not to lose. I’ve won the Pan Pacific so I am going to win the Asian Games,” he said.