August 4, 2021

By Rocky Swift

SAITAMA (Reuters) – Team USA rolled over Australia in Olympic women’s basketball on Wednesday, putting them on a semifinal collision course with a tough Serbian team that rallied to beat China.

Like the U.S. men’s team on Tuesday, the American women sailed into the next stage with a 76-55 win in the Saitama Super Arena, north of Tokyo. The U.S. were undefeated through the tournament stage, while Australia edged other third-place finishers to make it to the knockout stage.

“We’re happy that we played well,” said team captain Sue Bird, now playing 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.”

“All of us who played overseas, you always had a Serb on your team,” Bird said about their opponents in the next round on Friday. “They just know how to ball out. They know how to play basketball.”

As with the men’s side, the U.S. women’s basketball team is the perennial favourite at the Games, with eight gold medal performances since 1976.

Serbia, the reigning EuroBasket champions, came from behind to defeat China 77-70 and advance in the medal race.

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.

“How many times have we done this, 20, 30 times? We never quit, and we play the hardest when we are down,” said Dabovic, who scored 13 points. “We showed today we can find energy.”

Belgium takes on host nation Japan and Spain meets France in the remaining quarterfinal matches on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Rocky Swift; Editing by Michael Perry)