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Russia holds on to beat host Japan in 3×3 Olympic debut

/ 02:10 PM July 24, 2021
Russia's Yulia Kozik (L) and Japan's Mai Yamamoto fight for the ball during the women's first round 3x3 basketball match between Russia and Japan at the Aomi Urban Sports Park in Tokyo, on July 24, 2021 during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. (Photo by Andrej ISAKOVIC / AFP)

Russia’s Yulia Kozik (L) and Japan’s Mai Yamamoto fight for the ball during the women’s first round 3×3 basketball match between Russia and Japan at the Aomi Urban Sports Park in Tokyo, on July 24, 2021 during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. (Photo by Andrej ISAKOVIC / AFP)

TOKYO— Yulia Kozik drained a two-point jumper to give the Russian women’s team a victory over the Japanese hosts in the Olympic debut of 3×3 basketball on Saturday.

The heavily favored Russian Olympic Committee team never trailed in the physical match, but the Japanese squad closed the gap to one point in the final minute. But with 25 seconds left, Kozik’s two-pointer put her team up to 21, which sealed their victory in the half-court game, against Japan’s 18.

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The Russians used their height and size advantage to make scoring drives and capitalize on rebounds. Twins Olga and Evgeniia Frolkina at 6′ and 5’11” tall combined for 10 points, while Mio Shinozaki (5’5″) led scoring for Japan with 9 points.

The women played in a steamy, mostly empty stadium at the Aomi Urban Sports Park in Tokyo. The tournament will run for five days, with the medal matches to take place on Wednesday.

“From the streets to the Olympics,” is the motto of 3×3 basketball, which aims to expand its global profile with its Games debut in Tokyo.

The 3×3, pronounced three-ex-three, is played on a half court and with three players active instead of five. Sixteen teams of men and women will compete in a round robin tournament.

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