Team USA Women’s basketball to face Australia in medal round
Following the 2020 Olympic women’s basketball preliminary round, FIBA conducted the draw to determine quarterfinal pairings for the Tokyo Olympic basketball medal round on Monday night in Saitama, Japan. The U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team (3-0) will take on Australia (1-2) to open medal round play on Wednesday, Aug. 4 (1:40 p.m. JST / 12:40 p.m. EDT).
“We’re in the quarterfinals playing a team like Australia, who we’re very familiar with,” said USA head coach Dawn Staley (South Carolina). “Australia will be a formidable opponent because we know each other so well, and we look forward to the challenge of getting out of the quarterfinals. We certainly have to execute on both sides of the ball and continue to get better to advance.”
After dropping its opener to Belgium (85-70) and a close contest to China (76-74), in order to advance Australia had to defeat Puerto Rico in its final pool play game by 25 points. After trailing 45-44 heading into the locker room, Australia stormed out in the second half for a 27-point, 96-69 victory to advance.
The other three quarterfinals games will feature China (3-0), which won Group C, against Group A second place finisher Serbia (1-2); Group A first place finisher Spain (3-0) will meet up against France (1-2), the third-place team out of Group B; while host Japan (2-1), which finished second in Group B, will compete against Group C second place finisher Belgium (2-1).
Winners of the USA versus Australia game will face the winner of the China versus Serbia contest in the first of two semifinal contests on Aug. 6 (1:40 p.m. JST / 12:40 p.m. EDT), while the winners of the other two quarterfinal games will square off in the second semifinal (8 p.m. JST / 7 a.m. EDT).
Semifinals winners advance to the Aug. 8 gold medal game (11:30 a.m. JST / Aug. 7 at 10:30 p.m. EDT), while the bronze medal game will be played on Aug. 7 (4 p.m. JST / 3 a.m. EDT).
Teams eliminated from the Olympic women’s basketball tournament are Nigeria (0-3) from Group B, South Korea (0-3) from Group A, Puerto Rico (0-3) from Group C and Canada (1-2), which finished in second place out of Group A.
The No. 1 team in the world and following its three preliminary games, the USA owns an all-time record of 69-3 in Olympic play and is riding a 52-game winning streak in Olympic competition, which began with the 1992 bronze medal game, includes a record six-straight gold medals and three victories in Tokyo.
Photo: Team USA
Team USA Men’s basketball to battle Spain in medal round quarterfinals
With preliminary round play completed, FIBA (International Basketball Federation) conducted the draw for the Tokyo Olympics men’s basketball medal round quarterfinals Sunday night, and the U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team (2-1) will face Spain (2-1) on Tuesday, Aug. 3 at 12:40 a.m. EDT.
Other August 3 quarterfinals pairings unveiled Sunday included Group B first-place finisher Australia (3-0) versus Group C third-place finisher Argentina (1-2) at 8:00 a.m. EDT; Group A first-place finisher France (3-0) versus Group B second-place finisher Italy (2-1) at 4:20 a.m. EDT; and Group C first-place finisher Slovenia (3-0) versus Group B third-place finisher Germany (1-2) at 9:00 p.m. EDT on Aug. 2.
Winners of the USA/Spain and Australia/Argentina quarterfinal games will meet in one semifinal on Aug. 5, while the winners of the France/Italy and Slovenia/Germany quarterfinal games will face off in the other semifinal. Semifinal winners will advance to the Aug. 7 gold medal game (10:30 p.m. EDT on Aug. 6), while semifinal losing teams will advance to the bronze medal game (7:00 a.m. EDT).
Four teams were eliminated from the medal round, including Pool A third-place finisher Czech Republic (1-2), Pool A fourth-place finisher Iran (0-3), Pool C fourth-place finisher Japan (0-3) and Pool B fourth-place finisher Nigeria (0-3).
The American men concluded Olympic Pool A preliminary round play with a 2-1 record, losing their opening game to France 83-76 and recording victories over Iran 120-66 and Czech Republic 119-84.
The USA’s quarterfinal opponent, Spain, defeated Japan 88-77 and Argentina 81-71, and lost to Slovenia 95-87 in Group C preliminary play.
The XXXII Olympic Games men’s basketball competition is being held July 23-Aug. 7 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympic men’s basketball tournament features a different format than in past Games.
The 12 competing men’s teams were drawn into three groups of four teams apiece for preliminary play that was contested July 27-Aug. 3. Following completion of the preliminary round, the top two finishing teams from each pool and the two best third-place teams, according to FIBA’s placement rules, qualified for the medal round and were re-seeded.
The U.S. men have won the gold medal in the last three Olympics and have medaled in all 18 Olympics in which they have competed, including 15 gold medals, one silver and two bronze medals. The Americans currently own an impressive 140-6 all-time record (.956 winning percentage) in Olympic action. Since NBA players began representing the United States in 1992, the USA is 53-3 in the previous seven Olympics, capturing six gold medals and one bronze medal.
Photo: Team USA
U.S. Olympic Women’s team defeats Nigeria 81-72 on Tuesday night
When you’re chasing history, nothing comes easy. But the U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team (1-0) knew that coming into Tuesday’s opening contest at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Having already had to wait a year when the Games were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the veteran-led U.S. team wasn’t going to let an early deficit derail its pursuit of a seventh consecutive Olympic gold medal.
Behind A’ja Wilson’s and Brittney Griner’s double-doubles and the formidable presence of Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird, the U.S. topped Nigeria (0-1) 81-72 at Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo. It was the 50th consecutive Olympic victory for the U.S., a streak that began when the Americans won bronze at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
Not that the players were keeping track.
“We don’t really count them,” Taurasi said. “We have too much respect for all these countries, and we know the next one’s the most important one. I think it’s a great feat. It tells you all the great players and coaches that have come through USA Basketball and just the kind of culture we’ve built.”
Wilson, in her Olympic debut, had 19 points and 13 rebounds, while Griner finished with 13 point and 10 boards. Taurasi, who along with Bird is going after a record fifth gold medal, had 10 first-half points. Though Bird didn’t score, she did have 13 assists and four rebounds. Her 11th assist gave her 100 for her Olympic career.
“Oh, my gosh, I had to get the jitters out in the beginning, but it was a great feeling,” said Wilson, the reigning WNBA MVP with the Las Vegas Aces. “My teammates really helped me kind of calm my nerves and just play my game.”
Next up for the U.S. in Group B is host Japan (1-0), which upset France (0-1) 74-70. Tipoff is Friday at 12:40 a.m. EDT.
Taurasi was back in action for the first time since July 3. A hip muscle strain that kept her out of all three exhibition games in Las Vegas came after she missed more than a month with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury due to a fractured sternum.
“I felt pretty good,” said Taurasi, who was 3-of-6 shooting and had two rebounds in 23 minutes. “If I just keep getting a little stronger, a little bit better and whatever I can do to help, that’s what I’m here for.”
The U.S. came out sluggish, missing its first four shots and turning the ball over four times. The Americans were down 8-1 before Taurasi hit the first USA basket with 6:14 left in the first quarter. That started an 11-0 run, capped by a Jewell Loyd 3-pointer with 4:18 remaining, for a 12-8 lead.
Nigeria — which is ranked 17th in the world and lost to the U.S. 93-62 in a Las Vegas pre-Olympic exhibition — regained the lead at the end of the first quarter on Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah’s 3-pointer.
Neither team shot well in the first quarter, with Nigeria at 23.8% (5-of-24) and the USA at 33.3% (5-of-15). Nigeria went 8-of-10 from the free-throw line, however, while the U.S. committed eight first-quarter turnovers.
“I felt we had to adjust to the style of play that Nigeria was playing,” said U.S. head coach Dawn Staley. “They crowded our space for 94 feet. It took us probably a quarter and a half to really adjust to it. Once we did, we found ourselves just opening up the game.
“But those turnovers lingered throughout the entire game. And sometimes you have to win playing a different style of play, and we certainly had to do that tonight.”
Nigeria then went up 25-20 after Promise Amukamara’s hoop with 8:07 left in the half. That’s when the USA took off on its 23-0 burst and eventual 44-32 advantage at halftime. The Americans got out into transition in the second quarter, which helped them convert 68.8% (11-of-16) of their shots.
The Americans opened the second half on a 14-4 run to create a cushion. Nigeria stayed aggressive and went on a 12-0 run to pull within 75-67 with 3:20 left, but the U.S. rattled off the next six points to end the comeback threat.
“We know that basketball is a game of runs, so at the end of the day, we just had to be consistent in what we were doing and get us back, keep doing what got us the lead,” Wilson said. “Sometimes you kind of mentally fatigue, but then we snapped back, and we got back in it.”
By playing in her 33rd Olympic game Tuesday, Taurasi took sole possession of the Taurasi took sole possession of the overall women’s Olympic basketball record.
“It’s just lucky, you know?” Taurasi said of her longevity. “You put all those years in all those camps and you never think that you’ll be able to play so many. For one, I’m lucky enough. It’s just being around a really good group of people, from USA Basketball management to players and coaches, just really lucky, really fortunate.”
Photo/article courtesy: Team USA