TOKYO — There isn’t a single entity in American sports as reliable as the U.S. women’s basketball team. Not only do they show up at every Olympics with superior talent to the rest of the world, they deliver on that promise time and time again – without exception, without drama, without fail.
At this point, it’s nothing less than a dynasty. And Team USA is one win away from extending its dominance another Olympic cycle.
“It’s good to have seen this team progress,” coach Dawn Staley said after a 79-59 win over Serbia in the semifinals on Friday. “There was something about each game we played that we’ve gotten better in and that’s a beautiful thing to see. You’ve got highly competitive women, and it doesn’t matter what it looks like or who scores. It’s pure, it’s innocent and it’s never duplicated on any other team.”
The U.S. team will play in the gold medal round on Sunday but will have to wait several hours to find out whether they’ll face Japan or France. The U.S. beat both teams in group play earlier in the tournament, but at least those matchups have the potential to challenge the Americans in ways that Serbia did not.
The U.S. beat Japan by 17 points, but it was only a 10-point game with 4½ minutes left. Against France, the U.S. trailed briefly in the early stages of the fourth quarter before coming on strong to win 93-82.
“We had the hardest time in our pool, and it’s not surprising that we’re the last three standing at this point,” Staley said.
Though Team USA’s defense certainly had something to do with it, Serbia did not turn out to be much of a challenge because its shot-making and offensive execution was simply not up to the level necessary to hang around in this game. From pretty much the opening minutes onward, Serbia struggled to make shots whether they were open or not. Though Team USA did not play its best game of the tournament either, its size and speed advantages were too overwhelming.