SAITAMA, Aug 4 (Reuters) – Team USA rolled over Australia in Olympic women’s basketball on Wednesday, while host nation Japan won a three-point shootout to earn a historic chance for a medal.
The stage is set for Friday’s semi-finals, with the United States to take on Serbia, while Japan will meet France.
Like the U.S. men’s performance on Tuesday, the American women sailed into the next stage, with a 76-55 trouncing of Australia at the Saitama Super Arena, north of Tokyo.
The Americans were undefeated through the group stage, while Australia edged other third-place finishers to make it to the knockout bracket.
“We’re happy that we played well,” said U.S. team captain Sue Bird, now in her fifth Olympics. “I think all of us will go to sleep tonight feeling good in terms of the trajectory we’re on. But that doesn’t mean anything for the semis.”
As with the men’s side, the U.S. women’s basketball team is a perennial favourite at the Games, taking eight gold medals since 1976.
Serbia, the reigning EuroBasket champions, came from behind to defeat China 77-70 and set up their clash with the United States.
“All of us who played overseas, you always had a Serb on your team,” Bird said about her team’s next opponents. “They just know how to ball out. They know how to play basketball.”
Down by nine at the start of the fourth quarter, Serbia’s Ana Dabovic ignited a comeback with a three-pointer and lay-up in quick succession that tied the game.
“We never quit, and we play the hardest when…