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Russia edges out Belarus 71-65 in women's basketball
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13:16, August 13, 2008

Russia secured its third win on Wednesday in Beijing Olympics women's basketball preliminary tournament by edging out Belarus 75-65.

"Whether the game is a good show or not isn't important," said Igor Grudin, coach of the Russian team. "The most important thing is that we win. Anything else is minor."

Russia came out strong, keeping its lead in the entire first quarter but eked out only one point advantage after Belarus grabbed five offensive rebounds and hit a three-pointer in the last second of the quarter.

Russians went on a 9-0 run in the second quarter and stretched its lead to eight points at half-time and 12 in the third quarter.

"About 30 per cent of the points we missed in the games were caused by turnovers," said Katsiaryna Snytsina, forward of Belarus.

"We have worked very hard," she said. "But Russia is a very strong team."

Natallia Marchanka, guard of Belarus, led all scorers with 16 points followed by her teammates Katsiaryna Snytsina and Yelena Leuchanka with 15 apiece.

"Russia has experience, maybe that's what we lacked," said Marchanka. "We went on the floor ready, but we didn't make important shots."

"We had a little trouble in the first half and that's when we lost the game," said Nataliya Trafimava, guard of Belarus, "We didn't score the easy baskets when we had the chance."

The Russian women's team, a strong contender for the Beijing Olympics gold, is having one of its most successful year ever.

At the 2006 World Championships in Brazil the team beat Spain and the United States on the way to losing to Australia in the final.

Belarus came to the Beijing Olympics after booking their place with an upset over Brazil at the Olympic Qualifier Tournament held in Madrid, Spain in June 2008.

Ilona Korstin, Russia's guard, cast her view on the Olympics medal after the match with Belarus.

"I think we will be the first in our group," she said. "We came here to win, we came here to win medals."

"Even if we won the last three games by very small margin, we still gained a victory," she added.

Russia will next take on Brazil on Friday when Belarus meet South Korea.

"Brazil is still a good team," said Russia's Korstin." It was very hard for us to play against Brazil, they were once a world champion."

"But now it is a different team," she added. "So we will try to win."


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