TOKYO (2016 Rio Olympics) - Japan on Saturday completed a three-game warm-up series sweep against fellow Rio Olympics Senegal thanks to a comprehensive 84-38 win in Tokyo.
Although Senegal came up with a fight in Tuesday’s 81-71 defeat and tried to remain competitive in Friday’s 83-54 defeat, playing without Astou Traore, who had averaged team-high 17 points in the first two games, proved too challenging for the African champions.
Forward Maki Takada came up with a game-high 14 points, while center Yuka Mamiya added 12 points and eight rebounds to lead the winners of the 2015 FIBA Asia Women's championship.
Last year’s AfroBasket Women MVP Aya Traore and Maimouna Diarra had eight points apiece but the effort couldn't prevent the Western Africans from avoiding a 0-3 mark in their trip to the East Asia.
The three-game series, Mamiya admitted, provides a glimpse of her team’s competitiveness, even though they played without team leading scorer Ramu Tokashiki, who is expected to join the team later this month after her WNBA commitments.
“On the court at the Olympics, it’s the players that compete,” Mamiya said. “So when you have problems and don’t have the momentum, you need to make adjustments on your own. I think that we practiced that in this series, too.”
Analysing the three-game series, Japan’s head coach Tomohide Utsumi said: “In the second and third games, we played faster and that’s how we want to play. We are going to go into the Olympics with this style.”
Talking to FIBA.com, Traore, who sat out the last encounter to rest her knees, described the Japanese as "A very good team with a great chemistry.
As for Senegal's performance in Tokyo, the 35-year-old insisted "it is still early days to measure up the team's rhythm. We have only started our preparations three weeks ago. But we'll be ready for the Olympics."
Moustapha Gaye's team will resume its Olympics preparation in the capital Dakar before traveling Italy and Serbia later this month.
Meanwhile, before Utsumi’s team travels to Rio, where they will go up against Group A opponents France, Brazil, Australia, Belarus, and Turkey, they are expected to hold a training camp in Argentina.