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2020 Olympics: Japan beats Belgium with clutch shooting, USA blows out Australia to advance to quarterfinals

Team USA will face Serbia in the semifinals while Japan faces France.

Emma Meesseman of Belgium goes home medal-less while Maki Takada and Yuki Miyazawa could very well lead Japan to a medal themselves.
Photo by ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images

The 2020 Olympics women’s basketball tournament quarterfinals are now complete. Here are the recaps!

Japan defeats Belgium, 86-85 after last-minute three

Japan v Belgium Women’s Basketball - Olympics: Day 12
Emma Meesseman scored 25 points in Belgium’s loss to Japan.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Before I begin on the recap on this specific game, let me begin with this long, rambling monologue.

Washington Wizards forward Rui Hachimura MAY be the biggest basketball star in Japan. And the Japan men’s national basketball team may have a higher profile than their women’s team because they have him and Toronto Raptors forward Yuta Watanabe.

However, unlike the Japanese men, the Japanese women are a force within FIBA Asia and quite frankly, the world where they are No. 10. The FIBA rankings and our coverage tends to be very western biased (USA, Europe and Australia/New Zealand) and we assume that eastern countries aren’t as capable in basketball. That may be the case with men’s basketball for a number of reasons. But it’s not as true with the women’s game.

In FIBA Asia, the most powerful countries have typically been China, Korea (South Korea of course), and Japan over the last decade. In 2017, FIBA Oceania countries like Australia and New Zealand joined the Asia Cup. Despite the fact that the Opals are now in FIBA Asia for continental cup purposes, Japan has still won the Women’s Asia Cup each of the last three times (2015, 2017 and 2019).

And ultimately, I won’t call their 86-85 win over Belgium an upset. Both teams have faced each other in the 2018 World Cup with many of the same players, and Japan won close contests. They even played each other in a friendly before the Olympics and .... the Japanese won again!

While Belgium has proven to be able to beat almost anyone else in FIBA Europe at various points in the past four years, they just haven’t beaten Japan in these tournaments. In fact, their other loss in the Olympics was to China, another FIBA Asia power.

Alright, so how did this game go? It was a very great game to watch. Japan had a 12 point lead in the second quarter, but the Cats went on to take a 13 point lead in the third. Very early in the fourth quarter, Belgium led 70-61 after Washington Mystics forward Emma Meesseman made a bucket.

But from there, Japan went on an 11-2 run and Yuki Miyazawa started draining threes to tie the score 72-all. She ended up scoring 21 points, all off of seven made three-pointers! Belgium was ultimately able to lead 81-77 with as late as 1:54 left and even had an 85-83 lead after Indiana Fever guard made two free throws. Saki Hayashi made the go-ahead three-pointer with 16 seconds left in the game and Kim Mestdagh missed a last-second shot.

For Belgium, Meesseman scored 25 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished 6 assists. Mestdagh also scored 24 points including going 7-of-11 from the three-point line herself. While Belgium has been one of the top-four in threes made during this tournament (they made 11), Japan made 14 and have averaged 13.5 made threes in all games played during the Olympics.

With Belgium now coming home medal-less, the Cats will focus on making a second appearance in the World Cup next year. And for Mystics fans, we’ll be interested in seeing what she decides to do regarding her WNBA future.

USA gets revenge against Australia in 79-55 rout

Australia v United States Women’s Basketball - Olympics: Day 12
Leilani Mitchell scored 14 points in Australia’s quarterfinals loss to the USA.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The USA Basketball women’s national team got revenge on the Australian Opals for a pre-Olympics friendly where they were upset in Las Vegas, beating them 79-55 in their semifinals match.

The Opals were dead on arrival for this contest as the USA took an early double digit lead and never looked back. They only shot 45 percent from the field and committed 18 turnovers, but they dominated at the free throw line (16-of-21 vs. 6-of-8 for the Opals) and held Australia to just 30 percent shooting overall.

Washington Mystics guard Leilani Mitchell led the Opals with 14 points and 6 assists, shooting 4-of-10 from the three-point line. This is the second consecutive Olympics where the Opals have failed to win a medal, which is disappointing since they were the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup silver medalists.

For Team USA, Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart scored 23 points on 8-of-10 shooting while also grabbing 5 rebounds. Mystics center Tina Charles was scoreless but grabbed 6 rebounds and Ariel Atkins also scored 3 points off the bench.

Serbia holds off China, 77-70

China v Serbia Women’s Basketball - Olympics: Day 12
Jelena Brooks has led the Serbians back on track for a possible second straight Olympic medal.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Serbia women’s national basketball team defeated China in a defensive battle where neither team led by double digits. For the Serbians, former Mystic Jelena Brooks (née Milovanovic) scored 18 points, while Sonja Vasic added 16 and Ana Dabovic added 13 more.

For the Chinese, Shao Ting led with 17 points and 6 rebounds while Han Xu added 15 off the bench.

France builds big lead, holds on to win 67-64

Spain v France Women’s Basketball - Olympics: Day 12
Marine Johannes led Les Bleues to a victory over their continental rival.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

France played their arch-rival Spain in an earlier than anticipated quarterfinals match. Les Bleues won 67-64 in a slow-paced game. While the French led and out-shot Spain (49 percent vs. 34 percent respectively), they also committed 19 turnovers and the Spanish were able to come back from a 50-40 deficit midway through the third quarter to keep things interesting. In fact, they were leading 62-61 with 2:14 left but could only make one more shot the rest of the way. France was able to close the game out at the free throw line.

For France, Marine Johannes led their scorers with 18 points and 4 assists while Chicago Sky forward Gabby Williams added 11 points. For Spain, Sky center Astou Ndour led with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Semifinals schedule

The next round starts on Friday. Here are the game times:

  • USA vs. Serbia, Friday, Aug. 6 at 12:40 a.m. ET
  • Japan vs. France, Friday, Aug 6 at 7 a.m. ET

Go Team USA!