The dream of a first Olympic medal for women in basketball remains alive for the host nation. In a performance of elite offensive execution on Sunday at the Saitama Super Arena, Japan convincingly defeated Nigeria, 102-83, to finish second in Group B and advance to the quarterfinals.
Japan scored 19 tries and shot a sparkling 48.7 percent from behind the arc. Saki Hayashi thinned out seven of the Japanese triple on his way to a high of 23 points. Powered by Hayashi, Japan scored seven of their first nine tries before concluding the first half with a 64 percent performance. At halftime, Japan led 51-38.
A strong third quarter, during which Japan overcame Nigeria 33-19, brought the runaway victory for the Akatsuki Five.
All members of the team scored, except point guard Rui Machida. However, Machida was the integral engine of the Japanese offense and set the Olympic record with 15 assists. Her name will be recorded in the record book along with that of the team of USA legend Teresa Edwards, who threw 15 cents during the 1996 Olympic Games.
Machida declined any credit for her performance, say after the game“I was not even aware of the number of assists I had when I played. I did not think about it, and the other players around me ran just as well and scored all the shots, and it was they who contributed (to the record). ”
In addition to Hayashi, four other Japanese scored in double figures, including Yuki Miyazawa with 19 points and Maki Takada with 15 points.
As Nigeria leaves the Olympics with a 0-3 record, African countries remain unbeaten in the Olympics. It’s hard not to think about what could have been for the D’Tigeress if FIBA had approved the petitions of Nneka Ogwumike, Chiney Ogwumike and Elizabeth Williams. Against Japan, former temple owl Victoria Macaulay led Nigeria by 18 points. Former Duke Blue Devil Oderah Chidom added 12 points and seven rebounds, while Savannah State product Ezinne Kalu scored 11 points and six assists.
Serbia survives South Korea and advances to quarterfinals
Serbia also advance to the quarterfinals, after finishing second in Group A. 65-61 victory over South Korea did not inspire the good feeling of Japan’s victory.
Serbia led 32-24 at halftime before extending its lead to double figures early in the third quarter. The tide was turning when, in 2021, the EuroBasket champions lost their rhythm on both sides of the floor. South Korea would surpass Serbia in the third and fourth quarters. Still, the Serbs managed to secure the victory, with Jelena Brooks scoring the final five points so her team could escape.
Serbian head coach Marina Maljkovic objected to her team’s effort after the match, declare:
The problems are in our heads. I look at sports people around the Olympics and I see blood coming out of their hands from different disciplines. You even see it in men’s basketball and you see people all over Tokyo crossing all obstacles and individual boundaries … There’s no reason why we should not be like that too. There are no excuses for my players. You are at the Olympics and need to understand this and what is needed. The only good thing is the victory at the end.
Brooks finished the game with 11 points. Aleksandra Crvendakic led Serbia with 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Former Texas Longhorn-born Yvonne Anderson scored 12 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Jihyun Park has 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists for South Korea, while Danbi Kim has scored 15 points and grabbed six boards. Las Vegas’ Ace Ji Su Park scored 11 rebounds, along with eight points, five assists and two blocks.