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Russia tops Latvia 62-57 in women's basketball tournament
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Russia held off a strong fight-back and worked out a late surge to battle past Latvia 62-57 Saturday night in the women's basketball preliminary tournament at the Beijing Olympics.

The Latvians showed some signs of rust early in their game when Russia played fierce defence to force it into a dismal shooting performance.

Although the defence gave its opponents 10 free throws, out of which the Latvians hit only four, Russians scored a 11-0 run to take a 14-7 lead by the end of the first quarter.

Latvia soon found its shooting marks to fight back in an extremely tight second quarter with a 9-0 run, leveling the scores at 19-19, 22-22, 24-24, and 26-26 before taking a 31-29 lead at the half-time.

Hitting its top form, Latvia managed to foil the Russians' defence and pull away to stretch the lead to 48-41 by the end of the third quarter.

Russia rallied to go on a charge in the fourth quarter and cut the deficit down to one point with a 6-0 run before tying the score 51-51.

The Russians' late surge turned around the game and sealed a 62-57 win.

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

The Beijing Games is the second time that a Latvian team has competed in an Olympic basketball competition.

This current Latvian women's team booked its place at the Beijing Olympics after beating Angola by 58 points in the quarter final of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, held in Madrid, Spain.

(Xinhua News Agency August 10, 2008)

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