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Chinese girls endeavor win over Mali in women's basketball
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Olympic women's basketball tournament enters into its fourth day contest Friday, when host China is determined to secure a win over Mali on the way to the semis.

China, with two wins and one loss, places second in the preliminary round group B, a spot it shares with Spain.

Mali, qualified for its first ever Olympic Games at the 2007 FIBA Africa Championships, lost three games in the group.

"We should prepare for it seriously," said Chinese guard Bian Lan. "We can't relax."

"We should win every game we can," she said.

China vies against the United States,Spain,the Czech Republic,New Zealand and Mali in a round-robin women's preliminary round for a berth in the quarter-finals at the Beijing Games.

Tom Maher, coach of the Chinese squad had predicted 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 Group B.

The United States, still unbeatable in Group B, meets Spain, who only lost to China.

The Americans beat Spain in the Barcelona Olympics and Athens 2004, as well as three world championships in 1994, 1998, and 2002.

"We should be realistic," said Isabel Sanchez, Spain's forward. "The USA team is strong, and they have been winning big. We want the USA to realize that we deserve their respect."

The Czech Republic takes on New Zealand in another game in Group B. Both teams ties in the third spot and try hard to hold on after the match up.

Aussies finished on top in Group A, a place it shared with the Russians,but see a tough game against Latvia ahead, described by Australian coach Jan Stirling as "a very dangerous match-up."

"We've never played Latvia before, so they are new to us," said Australian forward Laura Summerton. "It's certainly dangerous.

"They have great players and a good inside game, so obviously we have to be aware of their players, especially Anete Jekabsone-Zogota," she added.

"You've got to limit Jekabsone-Zogota," said Australian forward Penny Taylor. "She's such a great scorer. All of their starting five are good offensive players.

The Russians, who claimed three victories in Group A, encounter Brazilians, who lost three games.

"Brazil has a lot of younger players," said Russia's center Maria Stepanova. "We will need to watch some tape on the team, because no one really knows what their team can do."

Belarus meets South Korea in another Group A game.

"The Korean team is very quick on the court, like all Asian teams," said Anatoly Buyalsky, coach of Belarus.

(Xinhua News Agency August 14, 2008)

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