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AUS 112-43 Mali in women's basketball Olympics warm up
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Australia on Monday prevailed in its second game at the 2008 Diamond Ball women's basketball tournament, pummeling Mali 112-43 in the Olympics warm-up.

Mali came out to a 4-0 lead in the opening of the tight first quarter which had seven lead changes and three tied times. But the veteran Aussies managed to pull away and eked out a two points lead, 21-19, by the end of the first quarter.

Australia's power forward Emma Randall said Mali's strong showing at the beginning gave them a call which prompted them to do well in later period.

"We appreciate the call," she told reporters. "We know we can't take anyone lightly."

Australia showed signs of hitting its form and went on a 23-0 run in the second quarter, stretching the lead to as many as 27 points at half-time.

The Opals, a heavy favorite for the gold at the Beijing Olympics, continued to dominate in the third quarter and expanded the scoring gap to 42. The lead went up to 69 in the fourth quarter.

The Aussies cruised into the Diamond Ball final after the victories over both China on Monday and Mali.

Janette Stirling, head coach of Australia, said the Opals needed confidence for the upcoming Diamond Ball finals as well as Olympics tournaments, and Mali made them play well.

Minding a tough draw in the Olympics preliminary round, Stirling said she didn't think too much about the Olympics.

But she still looked forward to a showdown with the United States or Russia in the Diamond finals to build up the team's experience with the top teams.

"It's terrific to play with the United States," she said. "They are on the pinnacle."

The Aussies won a silver at both Athens 2004 and Sydney 2000. They claimed the title at the World Championship in 2006.

Mali qualified for its first ever Olympic Games at the 2007 FIBA Africa Championships in Senegal.

(Xinhua News Agency August 5, 2008)

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