Quarter Finals Women: AUS 94 - NZL 55
Australia crushes New Zealand by 39
ATHENS - Familiarity only made things easier for Australia as it stayed unbeaten in Womens Olympic Basketball with a smashing 94-55 quarterfinal victory over Pacific neighbour New Zealand on Wednesday at the Olympic Indoor Arena.
Australia now advances to play Brazil in the semifinals on Friday, with the two having already faced each other in preliminary group play where Australia won by 18 points.
Precedent surely held for Australia against New Zealand. Australia had won all their previous 22 meetings, but their last one in the 2003 Oceania Championships ended with a mere five-point difference.
Superstar forward Lauren JACKSON proved utterly unstoppable, scoring 28 points and pulling nine rebounds in just 23 minutes on the floor. Penny TAYLOR added 12 points and Trish FALLON 11 for the winners, who out-rebounded New Zealand 54-25.
New Zealand got 15 points from Gina FARMER and 13 from Donna LOFFHAGEN, but its previous top scorer, teenager Angela MARINO, was held to just two points by the defence of Australian guard Kristi HARROWER.
Australia couldnt have started much better, posting a 10-0 advantage with six points from JACKSON. After LOFFHAGEN scored four to get New Zealand back to 12-6, Australia got the ball to JACKSON again for five quick points underneath and a 19-6 lead. New Zealand only recouped points when JACKSON rested for a couple of minutes, but Australian sub Alicia POTO erased those gains with a three-pointer on the buzzer that left a 26-13 score after 10 minutes.
Australia saw veteran captain FALLON erupt for her own 7-0 run a drive to the basket, a triple and a reverse layup to establish the biggest lead yet, 39-18, midway through the second quarter. Trading two-point baskets for three-pointers by Tania TUPU and Gina FARMER, New Zealand trimmed the difference to 43-28 late in the quarter. Then a last strike from the corner by TUPU left the slimmest margin for some time of 45-31.
But no comeback was in the offing. JACKSON and TAYLOR combined for the first seven points scored after the half, and before the third quarter could end, the lead topped 30 points for the first time. That was the trend the rest of the way, which allowed Australia to rest its main players with an eye toward Fridays semifinal.
New Zealand, a surprise entry in the quarterfinals, will play host Greece to determine the tournaments seventh and eighth places on Friday morning.
Lauren JACKSON (AUS) Forward
On the game:
"We got out to play knowing we had to win. We were prepared and we knew we wanted to get to the semifinal. We can play even better than we did until now. We get to know each other better and that helps us a lot".
On the semifinal:
"Brazil is a very strong and good team with very good players like Alessandra OLIVEIRA or Janeth ARCAIN. Brazil has quality players and it will be a very difficult game for us. We want to get to the final. Right now though we are not thinking about that, because we have to focus on the semifinal and Brazil".
Suzy BATKOVIC (AUS) Center
On the game:
"We've done pretty well as a team. We played good today, but we got a lot more to give as a team. We are working really hard because we came here one mission, to get the gold and we are going to try for it".
Trish FALLON (AUS) - Forward
On their opponent:
"New Zealand is the more physical team of the tournament. The players know how to use their body, more than their talent, and that really makes them a good team. You may think that we had an easy game, but this is not true. We had to run a lot, and give all our best to win New Zealand."
On the coming game against Brazil:
"It is going to be a hot game, a big fight. We played against them in the preliminaries, but this game is going to be totally different. Both Australia and we desire to win, but only one will go to the final."
Gina FARMER (NZL) - Guard
On the game:
"We want to play hard to win the game but it was so difficult to compete this team. We were not afraid of them, since we have played against them many times in the past.
On the next game against Greece:
"I am looking forward for the next game against Greece. I t will be very tough, since we have to face not only twelve players, but also the Greek fans who have proved that are very supportive. But, we are determined and very focused on winning."
|Press conference quotes:|
Lauren JACKSON, Forward (AUS)
"New Zealand gave us a really good game. They pushed us, physically and sometimes emotionally as well, but we are in the semifinals and hope to get even further. The game against Brazil will be tougher than the one in the preliminaries. They are used to playing in big games in Olympics and FIBA World Championships, so I'm expecting the game to be a battle.
I had some training with the team in April, but I came back on August 2nd, so I had basically about a week to prepare for the Olympic Games."
Jody TINI, Forward (NZL)
"It was a tough game. We put all our heart in it, but Australia is such a classy team. I feel really excited about finally playing in the Olympic Games, after missing Sydney due to injury."
Jan STIRLING, Head Coach (AUS)
"It's fantastic for New Zealand that they made the quarterfinals in only their second appearance in the Olympic Games, and it's great for our region, too. They gave us a good game, and we are looking forward to playing them again. Brazil has a lot of experience in finals. It's a team that plays with a great amount of emotion, and knows how to put the ball in the hole, so we have to be patient. They can play both inside and outside, and particularly Janeth ARCAIN was today a thorn on Spain's side. It's a great team to play against, but of course we are optimistic. The key element will be the control of the boards. Because Brazil is a high-scoring team, it will be important for us to get second-chance points and put the scoreboard pressure on them."
Tom MAHER, Head Coach (NZL)
"Overall I am happy with the final result. We had great anticipation for the game, but perhaps we're just not in Australia's league. We faced some criticism, but never really dealt with it or discussed it as a team. I feel we went a step up, and even though there are a few hurdles for New Zealand Basketball, but they can do as well as in other sports. There has to be some work in fundamentals with the players, but opportunities are there and must be grasped. I will not be with the team, but I am sure they will find someone very good to replace me."
Source: Athens news service