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China women team advances to semifinals
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China beat Belarus on Tuesday and advanced to the semifinals of the Olympic women's basketball tournament for its first time for 16 years since 1992 Olympic Games.

Mial Lijie scored a game-high 28 points from a 10-of-14 field goals including a 3-of-5 from long range for China, who took silver at the Barcelona Olympics 16 years ago but never reached the last four since then.

"We have not played like this for a long time," Miao told the news conference. "We played with a very good teamwork and did all together just like one person. I am satisfied with what we played and will try our best in the semifinals no matter whoever we will meet."

The Chinese will fight for the berth of gold medal final with the winner between world champion Australia and the Czech Republic in Tuesday's another semifinals.

China took the lead early and finished the first period 19-13 after a 12-7 run and led as many as 13 points with two minutes to play in the second quarter.

The host led 38-25 at halftime and expanded it to 54-32 with a 16-7 spurt with 4:30 minutes left in the third quarter.

Belarus never gave in and cut the cap to 47-56 on Yelena Leuchanka's layup with 7:40 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

China regained the game as Miao scored seven to help China to a 15-4 run for a 71-51 lead, the biggest margin of the game. Belarus managed to close but never fewer than 11 points.

The Chinese shot 46 percent for 26-of-54 from the field goals including 4-of-9 out of long range to Belarus's 43 percent and forced the opponent to 27 turnovers, 15 of them in the first half.

Chen Xiaoli added 15 points for China, who was out rebounded 22-41 by Belarus, who took part in the Olympic basketball for the first time.

"I feel quite release now," said Tom Maher, the Chinese head coach. "It's not an easy way for us to win the game. I have to thank to Miao Lijie, who played great in the crucial time and lead the team for the victory."

(Xinhua News Agency August 19, 2008)

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