Olympic Basketball Live: U.S. vs. Japan Gold Medal Game – The New York Times

Current time in Tokyo: Aug. 8, 12:23 p.m.

Several members of the gold medal winnning men’s basketball team are in the stands, along with Coach Gregg Popovich. The men beat France on Saturday, 87-82.

CUES the robot went 1-3 at the half court. He, like Japan, is off his game.

Big cheers in the arena as a large robot hits a shot from half court.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

TOKYO — The United States women’s basketball team has kept up its strong play through two quarters in its Olympic gold medal contest against Japan on Sunday morning at Saitama Super Arena. The Americans are ahead, 50-39, as the teams head to the locker rooms for halftime.

Japan, for the most part, looks outmatched. They’re shooting poorly from the field and can’t stop the United States in the paint. But they’re keeping this from becoming an outright blowout because they’ve gone 6 for 15 from 3-point range.

Brittney Griner has been unstoppable for the Americans. She has 18 points, missing only one of her 10 shot attempts. The Americans as a team are shooting 63 percent from the field, while keeping Japan at 39 percent.

Nako Motohashi leads Japan with 11 points at halftime.

Japan takes a timeout with two minutes left in the first half. They’re down 14 and looking for a way to keep this from totally getting out of hand. Brittney Griner has been almost unstoppable for the U.S. Consider her stats: 16 points, on eight-for-nine shooting, four rebounds and two blocks.

The American’s comfortable lead may be masking the grit and determination of Japan. They are playing pretty aggressively.

The arena, like all the other venues this month, does not have any fans. But there’s a good crowd of volunteers in blue uniforms filling the section behind one of the baskets, clapping for the Japanese.

Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

The United States women’s basketball team got off to a hot start in its gold medal matchup against Japan on Sunday morning at Saitama Super Arena. After one dominating quarter, they’re ahead, 23-14.

The United States found a flow early. The team’s first five baskets were scored by five different players. At the same time, the Americans were exploiting their size on defense, rejecting Japan at the rim twice in the opening minutes of the game.

Japan, which needs to hit jump shots to win, went just four for 18 from the field. But their 3-point shooting is keeping them in the game. They sank three of them in the closing minutes to keep the score respectable.

The Americans, who worked the ball inside with relative ease, shot 11 for 18. Brittney Griner led the team with 10 points.

Japan calls timeout midway through the first quarter with the United States ahead, 14-5. Japan looks a bit overmatched here. Their strategy relies on outside shooting, but they’re not getting good looks. The Americans, meanwhile, have already found their flow. Their first five baskets were scored by five different players.

And we’re off! The starting lineups at Saitama Super Arena.

Japan: Maki Takada, Saki Hayashi, Rui Machida, Yuki Miyazawa, Himawari Akaho

United States: Sue Bird, A’ja Wilson, Breanna Stewart, Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner

It’s A’ja Wilson’s birthday today. She turned 25. She’s averaging a team-leading 16.0 points per game and wouldn’t mind a gold medal as a present.

In warmups, the Japanese are practicing a lot of 3-pointers, and making them.

Diana Taurasi passes the ball during the U.S. game against Serbia.
Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

The United States and Japan play their gold medal basketball game at Saitama Super Arena at 11:30 a.m. Tokyo time on Sunday, 13 hours ahead of Eastern time.

WATCH LIVE: The game will be on NBC on Friday night in the United States at 10:30 p.m. Eastern time.

REPLAY: In the United States, you can stream the competition via NBC’s Olympics site, its Peacock streaming service or the NBC Sports app.

By rolling past Serbia into the final, the U.S. basketball team earned its 54th consecutive win.
Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

A win would extend a long run of dominance by the American women at the Olympics: The team has not lost a game in the tournament since 1992.

The Americans notched their 54th consecutive win on Friday after romping past Serbia, 79-59. They got the ball inside to Brittney Griner (15 points and 12 rebounds) and Breanna Stewart (12 points, 10 rebounds) for easy baskets and could look to do the same against Japan. Griner has shot 65.1 percent from the field through the team’s first five games.

The team was not happy about committing 17 turnovers but they made up for it with their staunch defense.

“It wasn’t as clean and fluid as we would like,” Coach Dawn Staley said afterward. “But at this stage of the game, you’re going to have to win a lot of different ways, and we found a way to win.”

Sue Bird, wearing a white coat on the left, was a flag-bearer for the United States during the opening ceremony. The other was the baseball player Eddy Alvarez, standing next to Bird carrying the flag.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

The final on Sunday could represent the end of the road for two longtime superstars: Sue Bird has said these Olympics will be her last, while Diana Taurasi has hinted at it.

“Last dance, baby!” Taurasi yelled as she walked back to the locker room after the team’s semifinal win.

The two are aiming for their fifth gold medals, which would set a new career record for gold medals by an Olympic basketball player.

“Sue and Dee, what they’ve done for U.S.A. Basketball is extremely special,” Breanna Stewart said last week. “The fact that they’re going for five straight golds is insane.”

The U.S. women’s basketball team before their semifinal against Serbia.
Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

SAITAMA, Japan — The Olympic women’s basketball tournament concludes late Sunday morning (late Saturday night in the United States) with a potentially lopsided matchup between the United States and Japan.

When the teams met earlier in this tournament, in group play, the Americans won by 17. In every facet of the game — skill, speed, size, strength, to name a few — the United States is expected to be superior.

But surprises happen. The Japanese will have home court advantage (whatever that is worth in an arena devoid of paying spectators) and will be gunning for a huge upset to add another gold medal to the country’s impressive overall haul.

Yuki Miyazawa, No. 52, has hit 19 3-pointers going into the final game for Japan.
Credit…Sergio Perez/Reuters

The Japanese will pin their hopes on their ability to connect from deep range. They lead all teams in 3-point shooting, hitting at a 40.9 percent rate.

The Americans will have to keep an eye on two sharpshooters in particular: Yuki Miyazawa has drained 19 3-pointers in this tournament and Saki Hayashi has made 17. (The next highest individual total in the tournament belongs to Kim Mestdagh, who made 10 before Belgium was eliminated in a quarterfinal.) Miyazawa is shooting 45.2 percent from 3-point range, while Hayashi is shooting 50.0 percent.

Japan looked fluid on offense in a convincing, 87-71, semifinal victory over France. Rui Machida orchestrated the performance from the point guard position, handing out an eye-popping 18 assists.

The Japanese team will not have much experience to lean on: This is its first time making it to the medal round in basketball.

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