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US Women's Olympic Basketball Team Sets Sights on Medals Round


The U.S. women's Olympic basketball team finished in first place in its group, after round-robin play, winning all five of its games. As VOA Sports Editor Parke Brewer reports from Beijing, the American women have dominated their opponents.

The U.S. women's Olympic basketball team may not be getting the publicity that the U.S. men's team is - with its star-studded line-up of NBA (National Basketball Association) players. However, so far, the women have been every bit as impressive.

They finished first in Group B after round-robin play, with wins over Spain, the Czech Republic, New Zealand, Mali and host China.

The team has a great blend of veteran and young WNBA (Women's National Basketball Association) players, who are on track to win a fourth consecutive gold medal in the event for the United States.

With the five wins in Beijing, the American women have a streak of 30 consecutive Olympic victories, dating to the bronze medal game in 1992. And, they have been winning by an average of nearly 45 points per game.

Coach Anne Donovan, a three-time Olympian, tells VOA Sports she is not concerned with margins of victory.

"I'm just pleased with where we are, especially when we're outmatching our opponents," Donovan said. "So, we're just trying to keep focused on us, not worry about 20-point or 30-point or 40-point wins, knowing with every game it's getting more complicated, more difficult, so that's what I love about this team. They really understand the urgency of being in the medal round."

To get to the medal round, the United States will have to beat South Korea in the quarterfinals Tuesday (8:00 a.m. EDT). The Koreans finished fourth in the other group with two wins and three losses.

Center Lisa Leslie, 36, of the Los Angeles Sparks says she has a good idea of what to expect.

"They shoot the ball very well. They force a lot of turnovers, so we're going to have to be very smart and take care of the ball," Leslie said. "They love to double team in the post, even though their tallest player is about 6-1 or 6-2. They play very well, smart basketball."

Candace Parker, 22, also of the Los Angeles Sparks, says the American women should be the favorite.

"I think, top to bottom, we're the best 12 in the world," Parker said. "It's just about proving that. And, you know, everybody talked about how we didn't have a lot of time to train together and things like that, but we've really done a good job in the time that we've had."

The American women hope their play will carry them through to a fourth straight Olympic gold medal.