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U.S., Australia to meet for Olympic women's basketball gold showdown
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08:26, August 22, 2008

The United States, the three consecutive Olympic women's basketball titles holder, will take on Australia, the current world champions, for the Beijing Games gold on Saturday.

Australia eased past China 90-56 in a semifinal game while the Americans overcame a slow start to beat Russia 67-52 in another semi.

The Aussies went on a 8-0 run early in the game to lead 12-6. After Song Xiaoyun hit a three-pointer and Chen Xiaoli scored two points, China whittled the deficit to two points by the end of the first quarter, trailing 13-11.

The Aussies continued to excel on rebounds in the second quarter, with 13 compared to China's seven, and score in the paint to stretch the leading margin to double digits at half-time, 34-18.

"We lost a lot in rebounding," China's center Chen said. "We played quite a physical game, especially inside."

The Aussies' defence forced China into a dismal shooting performance who scored only seven points halfway into the third quarter, leading the third quarter 57-39.

"Our plan was to do it defensively," Australian forward Laura Summerton said. "And the offensive end didn't really come until later."

Keeping the momentum into the fourth quarter, Australia extended the advantage and sealed the spot for the final.

"There is still a gap between our strength and that of the world's best teams," China's guard Miao Lijie said. "There are differences in personal abilities."

"We didn't do well in rebounds, and the physical (side of the game) was too much for us," she added.

The Chinese women's team, which grabbed a silver at Barcelona 1992 and a bronze at the Los Angeles Games, placed ninth at Athens 2004.

The Aussies, silver medallist at both Athens 2004 and Sydney 2000, clinched the title of the 2006 World Championships.

In an earlier semi-final game, Russia jumped out to a quick 10-5 lead with a 6-0 run and the Americans went on an exactly same run after Tina Thompson hit a three-pointer to lead 11-10. But the United States still trailed 16-13 by the end of the extremely tight first quarter with seven lead changes and two times tied.

The United States improved their offence early second quarter to level the game at 30-30 before Candace Parker grabbed one defensive rebound and two offensive rebounds but her teammates missed three shots. Diana Taurasi then hit a three-pointer for the Americans to score a 10-0 run and pull away at 33-30, leading 33-32 at half-time.

Both teams played tough defence in the third quarter but the Americans, with 13 rebounds, compared with eight of Russia, managed to stretch the leading margin to eight points at the end of the quarter.

"We had a very good beginning but in the second half there was something wrong with our rebounding," said Russian forward Tatiana Shchegoleva. "We do not have enough physical strength, especially at center."

"I don't think it's a psychological problem. Our strength goes down as the game goes on,"said Russian forward Svetlana Abrosimova. "We usually feel tired after playing 20 minutes."

"In contrast, the U.S. players can grab more rebounds in the second half and overcame us to take the lead," she added. "When the United States takes the lead, they will usually expand the margin. "

The Russians beat Spain and the United States at the 2006 World Championships but lost to Australia in the final.

Source:Xinhua

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1 China 46 15 22 83
2 USA 28 34 31 93
3 Great Britain 17 11 11 39
4 Russia 16 16 19 51
5 Australia 11 13 14 38
6 Germany 11 8 12 31
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