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Team USA takes on Serbia as they look to advance to gold medal game

Australia v United States Women’s Basketball - Olympics: Day 12 Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Two more. Team USA got tested in the preliminary round, but they came into the game against Australia looking to prove a point, and they did that and then some. They dominated from wire to wire and cruised to a 24 point victory in the quarterfinals.

The opponent tonight will be Serbia. Serbia made it to the semifinals by pulling off a late comeback to beat China by seven points. Winner heads to the gold medal game to face the winner of Japan and France.

Where to follow the game

NBC is the place to be. Tip of after midnight Eastern time.

Injuries

Every one’s here.

The game

The MVP has set the tone for the United States. With these Olympics not allowing for spectators or family, it’s been tough for players to maintain contact with those most important to them. Here’s how Wilson is managing it:

“I lean on my crew, my family the most. My parents are like, ‘Call us! We don’t care if it’s 3:00 am,’ I need that. Those little things there help me separate and understand … everything’s okay, I can get through this.”

Being away from your family in a new country amidst a pandemic has to be incredibly stressful for Wilson and all the other athletes that made the trip to Tokyo for the Olympics. As we try to find our way to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, the hope is we have enough support to keep us uplifted, people get vaccinated, etc.

Wilson had a light day at the office and played 15:45 minutes in the blowout win. Assuming the Americans don’t win big again, she’ll get some more work in tonight.

Serbia will give the USA all they can handle. Here's Sue Bird to explain:

“All of us who played overseas, you always had a baller on your team and it was a Serbian player. They just know how to play basketball. When they step on the court, they’re just out there to play basketball and have fun and they’re good at it. That’s what we’re going to be facing. It’s not going to be easy.”

Jelena Brooks and Sonja Vasic will look to hold off the Americans in the frontcourt. Vasic has been Serbia’s best rebounder in Tokyo and is averaging over seven boards a night. Brooks led Serbia’s scoring attack against China with 18 points and is averaging around 14 a night in the Olympics while shooting a pretty solid 48 percent from the field.

Turnovers have been a bugaboo for the USA in the Olympics. They’ve committed the second most in Tokyo as they’ve coughed it up 18 times a game. Serbia has forced their opponents into coughing it up around 19 times a game. Now that the stakes are even higher, you have to maintain focus, reduce the unforced error, and take advantage of any opening that becomes available.

It’s such a blessing to be able to dominate even when the WNBA’s leading scorer gets shut out. Tina Charles went 0-8 from the field, but Brittney Griner was a force with 15 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks. All of Griner’s baskets came in the paint and the tough thing about facing USA is that if you try to double, you’re leaving elite shooters like Sue Bird wide open from three, which is disaster waiting to happen.

Player to watch: Breanna Stewart

When a superstar locks in, there’s nothing you can do to stop in. Breanna Stewart was aggressive early against Australia and set the tone with 23 points, five rebounds, and three assists. The USA got an even bigger break as Stewart was able to play a 2021 (Olympic and WNBA) low of 23 minutes. Now that the US is two wins away from another gold, Stewart will have all the energy she needs to dominate.

From the Vault

Last time Serbia took on the USA, this happened:

More reading: Swish Appeal