Tokyo 2021: What to Watch on Summer Games' Closing Weekend ScheduleAugust 7, 2021
The Tokyo Olympics concludes Sunday with what will undoubtedly be an awe-inspiring closing ceremony, but before that, there are still several dozen medals to be earned by world-class athletes on the grandest stage in sports.
The United States' women's basketball team will look to cap off a tournament it has dominated by winning its seventh consecutive gold medal.
Team USA's women's volleyball will also look to add to the country's gold-medal count in its final against Brazil.
Women's Basketball Seeks Historic Gold Against Home Team
In order for the U.S. women's basketball team to capture a seventh straight Olympic gold medal, it will have to defeat host nation Japan.
Reigning WNBA MVP A'ja Wilson will celebrate her 25th birthday as she takes the court for the game. The Las Vegas Aces forward has been among the best players in the Olympics, scoring double digits in every game but one.
She saw a reduced role in the semis against Serbia, but that only served to freshen her up and allow her to focus on a gold-medal game, wherein the U.S. will need her in order to win.
Wilson and fellow Olympic rookie Chelsea Gray know exactly what they are playing for.
"Legacy. It's a standard that USA Basketball has set," Gray told the media following her team's victory over Australia. "There's a lot of great people who have come through this program, some that are still playing."
Two such people are Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi who, at 40 and 39, respectively, may well be competing in their final Games. Their veteran leadership has been invaluable.
Breanna Stewart and Brittney Griner have come up big for the team too in just their second Olympics.
The team will look to utilize what has been a stifling defense throughout the competition to thwart a Japan team that is vastly superior from beyond the arc and touts similar stats. The teams met before in the group stage in a game won by the Americans.
Bird, Taurasi, Wilson, Stewart, Griner and the rest of the team take the court Saturday at 10:30 p.m. ET.
Team USA Women's Volleyball Battles Brazil for Gold
U.S. women's volleyball head coach Karch Kiraly choked up as he stood in front of the microphone following his team's victory over Serbia, with tears welling up in his eyes. "I want them to experience standing at the top of the podium," he told reporters.
This was a coach whose love for his team and players was evident. He had just watched them overcome the world champions in game that showed their maturity and determination.
The team put away Serbia in decisive fashion, winning in straight sets, thanks to strong showings from opposite Andrea Drews and outside hitter Jordan Larson. The team will hope to have spiker Jordan Thompson back for the final after she sat out the Serbia match with an ankle injury.
The U.S. will need her if it hopes to keep alive its gold-medal aspirations.
Brazil has not been as convincing throughout the tournament, but it has found success through its blocks.
Four players on the team have managed three blocks each.
The U.S. team is surprisingly loose given the enormity of the moment facing them Sunday, though.
"People say we're going to be under so much pressure because we've never won the gold medal," Larson said, per Steve Drumwright of Team USA. "But we're under no pressure because we've never done it. Why not go out swinging?"
The U.S. competes for volleyball gold Sunday at 12:30 a.m. ET.