The two teams atop Group B will battle it out on Friday afternoon in Tokyo at the Saitama Arena, USA vs Japan. Host nation Japan will look to turn some heads and upset the heavily favored United States. Let’s take a quick look at this preliminary round 2 matchup that might be overlooked because of the magnitude of the Men’s side.
The hosts were great in their opening match against France. The 10th ranked team was able to upset the much taller and stronger French women. Utilizing defense and capitalizing on the offensive end they stunned the 5th ranked team in the world.
France got off to a great start in the 1st quarter and was hitting almost everything inside the arc. Outside the arc was a much different story, Japan held them to only 4/19 shooting from three and only allowed 6 free throws the entire game. The world-class defense from Japan was the key reason why they won the game and brought themselves back into it in the 2nd half.
It looked like every time Japan forced a turnover or got a stop down the stretch, they would come back the other way and hit a three. Despite the poor shooting from inside the arc and the paint, Japan was great at the line and shooting threes. Their bench outscored France 35-16 and was a huge part of the late offensive runs they had in the 4th quarter.
The best team in the world made their 2021 Olympics debut against Nigeria, and it was a very rude awakening for them in the first quarter. But they were able to shake it off and take home the victory 81-72
Nigeria came out firing on all cylinders and jumped out to a 20-17 lead after one frame. But then the sleeping giants woke up and were able to take over the game in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. The United States wouldn’t stop there, they did let Nigeria win the 4th quarter but by then it was too little too late to win, and they cruised to an easy opening match win.
Both teams shot terribly from three the entire game but were able to get to the foul line quite frequently. The deciding factor for winning the game was definitely the battle on the boards. The United States outrebounded Nigeria 61-41, which is absolutely insane. Despite the high amount of turnovers in the first quarter and the game, the United States still moved the ball very well and were able to get out in transition and score easy points.
USA vs Japan Prediction
There’s really only one right choice here, and it is the United States. They have been dominating the rest of the world for the last 2 decades. Winners of 6 CONSECUTIVE Olympic gold medals have put them at the top of the world rankings for a reason. This team is one of the better all-around squads assembled in a long time and they can really put points on the board.
They will face a very good defensive-minded team in Japan, but I think that the veteran experience they have in Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird will be more than enough to push them through and get the win. I worry if they will underestimate their opponents and come out of the gates very sloppy again, against this Japan team who capitalized on France turnovers in their previous game, this could be a problem for them. But if they play smart and move the ball like we expect them to, they should win comfortably because of their size and strength.