Team USA seeks its seventh consecutive gold medal and overall ninth while Japan tries to improve on an already incredible Olympic performance on Saturday at 22:30 ET.
In third place on Saturday at 03:00 ET, France will face Serbia. A victory for both countries leads to a second Olympic medal. France won silver in 2012 and Serbia bronze in 2016.
Team USA and Japan play again
Team USA and Japan met in the group stage, where Japan took a 30-28 lead after the first quarter. Yet the American women held their opponent by only 39 points in the next three quarters and won comfortably, 86-69.
Both teams achieve a high score through these Olympics: averaging 83.6 points, which is equal to the highest score. Yet they score in different ways. Team USA boasts some of the best postal players in the world, taking 69.4 percent of its shots from within the 3-point line. For Japan, there is more balance and 46.9 percent of its shots are from afar. Japan also happens to shoot the long ball as a team: 40.9 percent, the best point in the tournament.
Japan’s defense could stop when needed, but sustained defensive pressure was not a feature during this tournament. Opponents shoot 49.3 percent against Japan, giving the host country the second-worst field goal percentage in the tournament. Meanwhile, Team USA choked and kept teams up to 67.4 points per game and an overall shooting percentage of 33.3 percent.
Japan will have to make its three-point shots at a high rate, while limiting the chance of a second chance for Team USA to earn a gold medal. Win or lose, this will be the Japanese’s first Olympic medal in women’s basketball.
France seeks revenge against Serbia
Serbia beat France in EuroBasket women’s final in June, 63-54. This is the fourth appearance at the Olympics for France, while it is the second time for Serbia.
Serbia stayed on the edge as their biggest win margin was seven points. In their group stage opening camp against Canada, the Canadians erased an eight-point deficit in the third quarter, just so Serbia could win 72-68. Serbia also played strong against South Korea and won 65-61. In the quarterfinals against China, Serbia was nine behind in the final quarter, but returned to win 77-70.
France have just two victories in the tournament, an outburst in the group stage of Nigeria, 87-62, and a slight victory against Spain in the quarterfinals, 67-64.
Both teams will want to use the inside game as a road win, as both have shot about 30 percent from outside the arc. France scored an impressive 54.4 percent on its 2-point field goal, giving it a clear lead over Serbia, which scored 43.3 percent.
On paper, this game looks pretty close and can go on anyway. The bronze medal match could be one of the best of the 2020 Olympics.