Australia vs. Russia Women's Basketball: Key Stars to Watch in Bronze Medal Game

Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistAugust 11, 2012

LONDON - AUGUST 5:  Canada's Michelle Plouffe (front) grabs a rebound from Australia's Liz Cambage during their women's preliminary round Group B basketball match on Day 9 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Basketball Arena on August 5, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Sergio Perez  - IOPP Pool /Getty Images)
Pool/Getty Images

With the final podium spot on the line, Russia and Australia's top players will determine who earns the bronze medal.

In group play, Australia beat Russia 70-66. The two nations will clash again Saturday at noon for third place in the women' basketball tournament.

While few games not involving Team USA garner much attention, this matchup features some WNBA stars and the first woman in Olympic history to dunk.

These teams may have fallen short of earning a gold medal, but they can finish the London Games on a positive note by snatching the bronze. 

Lauren Jackson

Australia nearly pulled off a gigantic upset against Team USA in the semifinals, but they fell short, losing 86-73.

Captain Lauren Jackson won't let them sulk in defeat.

The Seattle Storm star lost to teammate Sue Bird after squandering a first-half lead against the U.S. team. Jackson scored 14 points, which is right in line with the 14.6 points she has averaged during the Olympics. That mark places her as the team's top scorer and eighth in the entire Olympic field.

The 31-year-old broke the Olympic scoring record during last Tuesday's win over China, but she needs to extend the total for Australia to leave London with a medal.

Expect the experienced three-time MVP to deliver under pressure with her country counting on her.

Liz Cambage

Australia pairs the savvy veteran with a tremendous young talent.

Liz Cambage is gunning for Jackson's spot as Australia's star. The 6'8" center has already made a major name for herself by becoming the first woman to register a slam dunk during the Olympics.

She also scored a team-high 19 points against Team USA—all of which she accumulated during the first half. The U.S. squad shut her down in the second half to seize control of the game.

These inconsistencies can be expected from a 20-year-old, but Cambage cannot afford to disappear again late in the contest.

Nevertheless, Australian coach Carrie Graff expects big things from Cambage in the future (via William James).

 "She's come of age through the tournament...I think she showed tonight she's going to be a world star at some point."


Becky Hammon

Becky Hammon leads the way for Russia in their hunt for the bronze. 

Her decision to play for Russia sparked some controversy in 2008, but the criticism has rightfully died down in her second Olympic stint.

Last season, Hammon scored 16.2 points per game on 46.8 percent shooting with 5.7 assists for the San Antonio Silver Stars. The 14-year WNBA veteran is carrying over that production in London, dishing out an average of four assists in 26 minutes per game.

Hammon notched 12 points in their previous matchup with Australia, but she might need to tally more in what could likely be her last Olympic game. The 35-year-old must keep her squad in check for them to secure their third straight bronze medal.