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Basketball preview: Chinese women play Australia to set eyes on Olympic medal
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21:46, August 20, 2008

China will play Australia on Friday in the semifinals of the Beijing Olympic women's basketball in a hope to equal their best second-place feat obtained at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games.

"We have already reached our semifinals, but that is not our termination. As our coach told us, we should try to get a medal," said Chinese captain Miao Lijie.

China recorded four wins and one loss in the preliminary round to rank second only after the United States in Group B. They eliminated Belarus 77-62 in the quarterfinals on Tuesday for a semi clash against Australia who will be much strong.

Australia won the 2006 World Championships and got silver medals back-to-back in 2000 and 2004. They hammered the Czech Republic 79-46 in the quarterfinals with a cruel pressure that choked the Czech offense, not allowing them to get easy inside points, while harassing the Czech shooters sitting beyond the arc.

The unbeaten Australian just like the United States in the tournament, however, were clouded by an ankle injury to star forward Penny Taylor, the MVP of the 2006 World Championships final, in Tuesday's quarterfinals. The bad news may be a good one for China.

"Stranger things have happened in the game of basketball," Australia's coach Jan Stirling said. "We're certainly not a one-person team. Not one player can replace Penny, but collectively we can cover the loss."

Stirling certainly has more good players in her team including WNBA star Lauren Jackson, Kristi Harrower, Suzy Batkovic and Belina Snell.

"To create a running game, we have to do well on the boards," said Stirling. "They have a lot of players who can penetrate and they can get hot from the three-point line."

The semifinal between the United States, who trounced South Korea easily 104-60 in the quarterfinal, and Russia will be a rematch of the World Championships, where the European titlists upset the Americans. And it has been considered a battle of the revenge for the defending champions.

"USA is a strong team and it will be a tough game," said Ilona Korstin of Russia, who came from an 18 points down to beat Spain in another quarterfinals Tuesday.

"The tougher a game, the more interesting it will be. But we do not fear it," Korstin added.

Russia recorded four narrow triumphs in preliminary round with winning only five points over South Korea and Latvia apiece and beating Belerus by six and improving the victory over Brazil 74-64.

The United States won over their opponents with an average 40.3 points in the perliminary round.

Source: Xinhua

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1 China 45 14 20 79
2 USA 26 26 27 79
3 Great Britain 16 10 10 36
4 Russia 11 14 18 43
5 Australia 11 12 12 35
6 Germany 11 8 9 28
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