The last four teams to compete in the women’s basketball tournament are the USA, Serbia, France and Japan. All four enter the semifinals with a view to a place in the gold medal.
On Friday at 12:40 ET Team USA and Serbia meet in the first semifinal. Then, at 7 a.m. ET, France and Japan face each other.
Can Serbia Challenge Team USA?
During their run for the gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Team USA sent Serbia and a 110-84 victory in pool game behind a 25-point performance by Diana Taurasi. Breanna Stewart had 17 points for the U.S., while Tina Charles added 15 points and eight rebounds.
More recently, Team USA achieved another convincing victory over Serbia, claiming that 88-69 wins at home to Serbia during the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in 2020. The rosters of both groups contain much the same names. A’ja Wilson led the Americans with 16 points and eight rebounds. Brittney Griner placed 14 points and six boards. Skylar Diggins-Smith, who has yet to experience a significant playing time in Tokyo, dropped four three-pointers on his way to 15 points.
Serbia were led by Jelena Brooks and Ana Dabovic, who both scored 13 points. For Tokyo, Serbia added a major contributor to Yvonne Anderson, who averaged 11.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists in the Olympics.
However, it is hard to see Serbia challenging the precedent and turning the table on Team USA, especially since the Americans have reached the peak. After playing through the pools, Team USA looked like the undisputed number 1 team in the world in their overwhelming quarter-final over Australia. The fact that a young, inexperienced Breanna Stewart caused damage to Serbia five years ago also does not inspire confidence in the Serbs’ chances. An improved and experienced Stewart, along with an A’ja Wilson who also had success against Serbia, suggests that Team USA should end up in the gold medal without much tension.
Japan and France meet repeatedly
Japan and France opened Olympics against each other, with the Japanese host, the number 10 team in the world, beating the Frenchman in fourth place, 74-70. While France wants revenge for the loss, Japan is striving to continue its quest for the country’s first women’s basketball medal.
As with most of his Olympic experiences, the three-pointer achieved Japan’s success in its first match against France. The Japanese converted 11 of their 27 tries, good for 40.7 percent. In contrast, the French were cold from long range and scored only four of their 19 tries (21.1 percent). Since then, France’s deep shooting has improved only slightly, as they shot 31.9 percent from behind the arc for the tournament.
Unless they have an outstanding 3-point shooting performance, France should take advantage of their 2-point shooting advantage. France finished with 54.7 percent on two compared to Japan’s 45.4 percent. This difference is a product of France’s size and Japan’s lack thereof. France must therefore dominate the glass and pay in second-chance points. In the previous match, France only surpassed one by 35-34.
France will also have to overcome the camaraderie and connectedness of the host country. Japan played with a spirit that apparently allowed them to face their lack of size and its related disadvantages.
With a well-executed attack and a sharp defense, Japan equaled the role of a medal winner. A gold medal between Japan and Team USA seems to be the perfect way to conclude the Tokyo Olympics.
What a game! What a story! What a tournament for Japan! And it’s not over yet! France shocked them in their group stage and then scared the USA, and now they have upset Belgium to advance to the women’s semi-finals #basket tour for the first time ever! #Tokio 2020 pic.twitter.com/gIxUl0MWkZ
– Kate Scott (@katetscott) 4 August 2021