Japan makes America sweat

The hosts, the surprise of the tournament after defeating France, force the great favorite and undefeated from Barcelona 92 to work until the third quarter. A'ja Wilson, 20 points.


Japan, the surprise of the women's basketball tournament of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games that defeated France on the first day, made the almighty United States sweat (86-69), which the host forced to make an effort until the third quarter to get his second win.

With an intense defense that forced eleven losses for the Americans and a great initial success in their pitches that later was diluted, the Japanese team made the North Americans work, supported by their powerful inside game, led by A'ja Wilson with a ' double-double 'of 20 points and 10 rebounds and Brittney Griner (15 and 5), and with an outstanding Breanna Stewart, also in double digits of 15 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists.

The Japanese team, which already surprised France by winning it 74-70 thanks to their success in the three-point shooting - they scored 11 of 27 triples, a success of 40% -, came to finish the first quarter ahead (28-30 ) and held out until third, with Mai Takada (15 points) and Saki Hayasi (12) as the main scorers.

And that the Americans started overwhelming, with a 7-0 partial against a cold Japanese team like the air conditioning of the Saitama Super Arena, who needed time to polish their attack, but as for Rui Machida (9 points and 11 assists at the end ) moved the Japanese team shortened distances (17-14, min. 5).

If the duel was to be a successful competition, Japan clearly laid out their credentials. The hosts hit 6 triples of 10 in the first period and turned the email around with three hits in the last minute: two by Monica Okoye, a Japanese woman of Nigerian descent, and one by Saori Miyazaki for a surprising 28-30 end of the quarter. .

The intense defense at the exit of the ball by the Japanese put the American bases in difficulties. Those of Dawn Staley had to look for quick transitions for A'ja Wilson or the dominance of Britney Griner at the heights to curdle a 9-3 partial with which to distance themselves from the tough Japanese team (43-36, min. 16).

Despite the mischief of Machida and her teammates, 'Team USA' dominated at halftime (49-40), under the watchful eye of their male teammates in the deserted stands of Saitama.

The passage through the changing rooms did not change the dynamics: the United States had to suffer every point, with Wilson -8 points for the Las Vegas Aces player only in this third quarter- as the key that opened the doors of the Japanese defense (61-52 , min. 27). With this recipe, the North Americans gained a twelve-point advantage that seemed like a treasure to face the last quarter (65-53) .

Sylvia Fowles was hitting the inside to safeguard the income of the Stars and Stripes team, but Japan trailed a dangerous ten points (74-64, min. 35). A Stewart basket, a safe value throughout the game, and two triples in a row by Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird, put the lock on the duel, with 82-64 at 2.55 from the end.

The final result, 86-69, puts the United States practically in the quarterfinals before facing France on the last day, on Monday 2. The meritorious Japan also has the quarters within reach: they will have to beat Nigeria that same Monday

Photos from as.com
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