Basketball-U.S. women overcome Japan long ball game to seal second win

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Basketball - Women - Group B - United States v Japan - Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan - July 30, 2021. Saki Hayashi of Japan ans Rui Machida of Japan in action with A'Ja Wilson of the United States REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Team USA shut down Japan’s long ball game and improved to 2-0 in the preliminary round of Olympic women’s basketball on Friday.

Japan led in the first quarter, boosted by accuracy from the three-point line. But the Americans adjusted defensively and were ahead 86-69 by the final whistle at the Saitama Super Arena, north of Tokyo.

“They were always in the game,” Team USA coach Dawn Michelle Staley said about Japan. “The gap is closing with us and Japan and the rest of the world.”

A’Ja Wilson, who plays for the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces, led in scoring for the U.S. with 20 points. The Americans will face Nigeria on Monday for their last match in the preliminaries.

The Belgium women’s team cruised to a second victory in group play with an 87-52 win over Puerto Rico, who slid to 0-2. Belgian sisters Kim and Hanne Mestdagh combined for 33 points.

The Belgian Cats beat Australia on Tuesday and will attempt a clean sweep of Group C when they face China on Monday.

“China will be a whole different game, very physical, something completely different than what we’ve seen against Australia and today,” said Hanne Mestdagh.

“We’re going to enjoy the win on the day, recover a little bit, and tomorrow on we’ll fully prepare for China.”

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