Japan beat France to reach gold in women’s basketball for the first time

If the Japanese women’s basketball team is Cinderella’s team this year, they take it until midnight.

Japan dominated France in the semi-final on Friday, winning an 87-71 victory to secure a date with the United States in the gold medal game on Sunday.

Rui Machida was instrumental in making Japan enter their first Olympic basketball gold medal game, with the little playmaker pulling the strings to historic victory.

Machida scored just nine points at the Saitama Super Arena, but created many more with her 18 assists, probing the paint with precise passes to create opportunities for the women in white and red.

Himawari Akaho has often benefited from Machida’s creativity, the swing player scoring 17 points on a 7v9 shot. Yuki Miyazawa scored 14 and Evelyn Mawuli nine.

This victory means that Japan will win no less than a silver medal at the Tokyo Games, and that medal remains the most likely outcome as they are ready to face an unrivaled American team who beat them by 17 points in the phase. of groups.

The United States beat Serbia 79-59 earlier on Friday, continuing their domination of the tournament. They won their five games with an average of 16.2 points and their two knockout games with an average of 22.

Sandrine Gruda fought a lone battle for France, her 18 points being the only thing that kept the score respectable as the European team folded. They will face Serbia for bronze.

Japan were up to eight points behind in the first quarter, but had a great second in which they combined a swarm and trapping defense with an efficient attack and kicks to build themselves a 10-point lead. points. France responded, but could only reduce it to 41-34 at halftime.

The final two quarters were all one-sided, with Japan coming back to a 27-16 third to put the game out of reach and carve out a place in Japanese basketball folklore.

Prior to these Games, Japan’s previous best Olympic result was a fifth recorded in 1976 in Montreal. In Rio de Janeiro in 2016, the team lost in the quarterfinals.

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