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The United States won the gold medal in men’s basketball at the 2020 Olympics, and now the women’s team will attempt to do the same as the Olympics begin to come to a close this weekend. Their opponent, however, will be coached by a former Nittany Lion.
The United States women’s basketball team will go up against Japan, the host nation. And Japan is coached by a former Penn State men’s basketball player, Tom Hovasse. No matter the result, Hovasse has already coached the Japanese women’s team to its best finish at the Olympics.
Under the coaching of Hovasser, Japan has become a rising power in international women’s basketball. Hovasse took over as head coach of Japan’s women’s team in 2017 after previous experience as an assistant coach for the team and years of experience coaching professional basketball in Japan in both men’s and women’s leagues. Since becoming the head coach, Hovasse has led Japan to gold medals at the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup in 2017 and 2019.
SAITAMA, JAPAN – AUGUST 06: Team Japan Head Coach Tom Hovasse cheers on his team from the bench during the second half of a Women’s Basketball Semifinals game between Team Japan and Team France on day fourteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Saitama Super Arena on August 06, 2021 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Now, Japan has already clinched its best finish at the Olympics by far. Japan has never finished higher than 5th place in the Olympics, doing so in 1976. Japan automatically qualified for this year’s tournament as the host nation, and they are taking advantage of it.
Nittany Lion alum Tom Hovasse and Japan will play for GOLD ‼️🥇
Hovasse coaches Japan to a dominant 87-71 win over France in the semis and into its first-ever gold medal game! Japan 🇯🇵 vs. USA 🇺🇸 Saturday at 10:30 PM ET for gold. #WeAre #OlympiansMadeHere
📸: @GettySport pic.twitter.com/5o3XRA4lUm
— Penn State Men’s Basketball (@PennStateMBB) August 6, 2021
Hovasse and his team from Japan are up against an absolute juggernaut in international competition, however. The United States women’s basketball team, coached by former Temple basketball standout Dawn Staley, is going for its seventh consecutive Olympic gold medal. The United States women have not lost an Olympic game since winning the bronze medal in 1992. The United States is 66-3 all-time in Olympic competition.