Australia vs Russia Women's Basketball: Previewing the Bronze Medal Game

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Australia vs Russia Women's Basketball: Previewing the Bronze Medal Game
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On Saturday, the U.S. women's basketball team will attempt to win their fifth consecutive gold medal as they pair off against France. This game will get a good amount of attention on Saturday and deservedly so, as France and the U.S. were the only two unbeaten teams in Olympic play.

Like in many other Olympic sports, basketball does have a bronze medal game and this year's edition will be taking place on Saturday, four hours before the women's gold medal game. Here we'll see Australia square off against Russia with this year's bronze medal and a respectable finish on the line.

Both Australia and Russia have been powerful players on basketball's international scene. Prior to these Olympics, Australia had lost to the United States in three consecutive Olympiads and had to settle for the silver medal each time. Russia has also been respectable with two consecutive bronze medals.

One of these teams will continue their medal streak with a win in the bronze medal game. Although it's no gold, there is definitely a big difference between ending Olympic play with a win and a medal, as opposed to ending with two consecutive losses and a depressing fourth-place finish. So this bronze medal game is a big deal, so much so that some athletes consider a bronze medal to be more rewarding than a silver one.

Going into Saturday's game, Australia is the favorite as they have won more games and scored more points. Coming off a 86-73 loss to their U.S. rivals, Australia has to be angry about losing to the same team in each of the last five Olympics. Now they can only hope that by taking out their rage on Russia, that they can prove they deserve instead to be in the gold medal game.

One of the highlight plays from the last time these two teams met.

Russia will be hoping to get a different result from when these two teams faced in group play. That game was won by Australia 70-66 and was basically the deciding factor as to giving Australia the second seed in group B. 

 

Where: North Greenwich Arena, London, England

When: Saturday, August 11 at 12 p.m. ET

TV: MSNBC (Live)

Live Stream: NBCOlympics.com 

Point Spread: -8.5 Australia 

 

Key Players:

Australia: Liz Cambage 

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Earlier in the Olympics, Australia's center Liz Cambage had a memorable first for this year's tournament. She successfully dunked the ball in a group play game. Coincidentally, the opponent in that game was also Russia.

Although very few women regularly dunk the ball, it's not all that surprising that Cambage did it. At 6'8", her size has caused her to be one of the most dominant players in this year's Olympics. Even the mighty United States was baffled by her as they allowed her to score 19 points in 20 minutes.

 

Russia: Becky Hammon

Russia's best player this tournament has been WNBA guard Becky Hammon. Although she lives in the United States, Hammon chose to play for Russia after getting turned down by her home team. She had hoped for a chance at revenge against the United States, however those plans were thwarted when France beat Russia in the semifinals.

Hammon was particularly clutch in Russia's 66-63 victory over Turkey in the quarterfinals. There she led the team with 19 points and five assists. She wasn't quite as good against France in the semifinals, where she only scored 13 points in the losing effort.

Becky Hammon was also clutch in Russia's 58-53 victory over Canada in the group stages.

 

Prediction: Australia Wins

Three straight silver medals is an impressive accomplishment, even with this team never realizing it's full potential and grabbing the gold. Australia is also way more physical thanks to players like Cambage and Lauren Jackson.

They also have to have more motivation after now dropping to 0-16 against the United States in combined Olympic and World Championship competition. With veterans like Jackson leading the way, this team is more experienced and has had more sustained success than Russia.

Expect the score to be similar to the last match between the two which Australia won by four points. It should be a close game, but again Australia can pull out the win and end their disappointing 2012 Olympics on a positive note.

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