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US gives Russia shock in pre-Olympics showdown
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The United States cruised into 2008 Diamond Ball for women's basketball tournament after giving Russia a shock 93-58 in the pre-Olympics showdown.

"We spent a lot of time in talking about and practicing defence," Anne Donovan, head coach of the United States, told reporters.

"We are pleased with the game," she added.

The United Stated jumped to a quick 13-4 lead at the opening of the very fierce first quarter in which the Russians gave a dismal shooting performance to allow the United States to dominate the game.

Russian forward Tatiana Shchegoleva hit a three pointer in the dying seconds of the first quarter to whittle a 10 points U.S. lead down to seven, with Russia trailing 17-10.

"They stopped our defence," said Russian head coach Igor Grudin. "They are more competitive than us."

The United States went on a 10-0 run in the second quarter and stretched the lead to as many as 24 points at half-time.

The Russians, considered to have a chance of stopping the Americans from winning their fourth consecutive Olympics gold, rallied in the third quarter and found their mark to hit five three-pointers.

But the Unites Stated held off the Russian fight-back and continued to score in the paint, expanding the lead to 27 points by the end of the third quarter.

It then prevailed in the fourth quarter to seal the berth in the Diamond Ball finals.

"They played a great game in all areas," said Russian forward Shchegoleva, adding "they played a very physical game."

Diana Taurasi attributed the win to spotting their problems in playing against Latvia one day earlier and presenting answers when encountering the Russians.

"We get something done," she said. "We put the 40 minutes together."

The United States will on Tuesday play against Aussies, a strong contender for the Beijing Olympics gold who pummeled Mali 112-43 earlier on Monday.

Russia will have a match-up on Tuesday with Mali before China meets Latvia on court for the third place of the Diamond Ball.

(Xinhua News Agency August 5, 2008)

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