TOKYO – French President Emmanuel Macron and United States First Lady Jill Biden watched their compatriots entangle themselves on the 3 × 3 basketball court at the sport’s Olympic debut in Tokyo on Saturday, with the Americans claiming a surprising victory. .
Macron and Biden are among the few dignitaries attending the delayed Games, with Japan and much of the world still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Biden jumped to his feet and clapped as time ran out with Team USA winning 17-10 against No. 1 ranked France.
Stefanie Dolson, who played for the WNBA’s Chicago Sky in the 2021 season, led the Americans with seven points.
In the first game of the tournament, the Japan women’s team lost 21-18 to No. 2 ranked Russian women who, competing as the ROC, won both of their matches.
The men from Serbia, another favorite for the medals, also had a perfect record on the day.
With the surprise elimination of the US men’s team in the playoffs, Serbia and Latvia appear to be favorites in the medal race.
Serbia beat China 22-13 and then beat the Netherlands 16-15.
“This is the most important tournament of my life, so you know it will be a pleasure to win any kind of medal, but our goal is gold,” said Serbian Dusan Domovic Bulut, the sport’s first superstar in the making.
Latvia beat Poland 21-14 in their opener, but were later beaten 21-20 by Belgium with a two-point shot from Thibaut Vervoort in the last minute.
However, the Belgians lost 18-16 to Japan in the last match of the day.
With a debut at the Olympics, 3 × 3 seeks to boost its global profile as a more compact and faster-paced alternative to basketball.
The game is played in half court with three players on each side and one team wins by reaching 21 points or having the most baskets at the end of the 10 minute game clock.
DJs play hip-hop music during 3 × 3 competitive games, in keeping with the urban roots of the sport.
The medal matches will take place on Wednesday after a free-for-all tournament of eight teams, each for men and women.
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