Basketball-Russia hold on to beat host Japan in 3x3 debut

TOKYO (Reuters) - 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 3x3 basketball on Saturday.

The heavily favoured 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.

The Russians used their height and size advantage to make scoring drives and capitalise 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 3x3 basketball, which aims to expand its global profile with its Games debut in Tokyo.

The 3x3, 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 to decide the sports first medal winners.

(Reporting by Rocky Swift; Editing by Karishma Singh)

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