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Chinese basketball women to fight Czech for second place in Group B
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The Beijing Olympic Basketball Gymnasium will be heated by a battle between host China and the Czech Republic on Sunday, last day of the Olympic women's basketball preliminary round.

Both teams have qualified for the quarterfinals with China winning three and losing one while the Czech having two wins and two losses in Group B.

However, the Chinese are hunger to be second place in the group in order to avoid top two Australia and Russia from Group A in their quarterfinals. Therefore, The hosts, who set their eyes on last four or a medal, must win the last group game. If they fail they may rank third, or even fourth and have to face Australia or Russia.

"I think if we come in fourth in the group and we end up meeting Australia and we get beaten," said Chinese coach Tom Maher, who was ex-coach of Australia. "That's going to be really disappointing. We want to come second."

There is a good chance that the Czechs, the Chinese and the Spanish will all finish with 3-2 records.

In that case, goal difference in the games between those three teams would determine the order of finish in the group.

"We need to beat the Czech," said Maher, who took the reins of the Chinese team after leading New Zealand to the quarterfinals at the 2004 Olympics.

"If we beat them, we can finish ahead of Spain. If we lose by 10 or less, I think we come third and the Czech would come fourth. If the Czechs beat us by more than that then we come in fourth."

The Chinese lost to the Czechs at the Athens Olympics, 83-98, and the 2006 World Championships.

"They are great shooters. They have height and great offensive rebounders, but we try to identify where they are not so strong and attack that area," Maher said.

"If we play our natural game and make adjustments, I think everyone on the team thinks we can win."

Australia will contend for the first place with Russia in Group A. It seems the European champions have little chance to succeed following their four previous narrow triumphs. They edged over South Korea and Latvia by five points apiece and beat Belerus by six and only improved the victory over Brazil 74-64 Friday.

Also in Group A on Sunday, Latvia faces South Korea, both are 1-3 record now, to fight for the last berth of the quarterfinals.

(Xinhua News Agency August 16, 2008)

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