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China routs New Zealand 80-63 in Olympics women's basketball
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China's Chen Nan scored 26 points on Wednesday as her team cruised past New Zealand 80-63 in the Beijing Olympics women's basketball tournament.

Chen Nan, the 1.97m center, led all scorers in the match, hitting 11 of 14 field goal attempts, and claimed 17 rebounds.

New Zealand's forward Jillian Harmon regarded Chen Nan as "an awesome player", saying "she finishes really well with her left hand".

China jumped out to a quick 11-6 lead with a 9-0 run and played tough defence to block the Kiwis' shooting.

Chen Nan grabbed an offensive rebound with two seconds to play in the first quarter before scoring two points and earning a free throw which she made to give China a 26-18 lead.

China's defence still worked well in the second quarter, forcing New Zealand into a dismal shooting performance and stretching the advantage to 17 points at half-time, 48-31.

The Kiwis fought back in a very fierce third quarter, making three inside paint two-points before pouring in another on fast break but missed two three-pointers in a row, trailing 65-48, an advantage China stayed by the end of the game.

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

The team sees the Beijing Olympics a chance to deliver a long-awaited comeback with coach Tom Maher predicting a chance for the Chinese to charge into the Games semis.

Eying qualifying for the semis, they try to finish second after the Americans in the preliminary round Group B.

The New Zealand 'Tall Ferns' have competed at the Olympic Games twice before, in 2000 in Sydney and in 2004 in Athens.

China will encounter Mali on Friday when New Zealand take on the Czech Republic.

(Xinhua News Agency August 13, 2008 )

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