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Womens’s Olympic Basketball Roundup

September 22, 2000

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ France’s Olympic debut in women’s basketball has been perfect.

The latest win was Friday (Thursday night EDT) and the 73-70 overtime victory over Brazil was certainly the most impressive of the four.

Isabelle Fijalkowski scored 18 points on 6-of-7 shooting and Yannick Souvre also had 18 on 6-of-8 shooting from 3-point range.

The inside-outside combination scored seven of France’s 10 points in overtime as France beat one of the teams considered medal contenders for the first time.

When the game ended, the French players gathered in a circle near midcourt, held hands and jumped up and down while singing.

``We don’t have a medal yet and the road is very long,″ Fijalkowski said when asked about the great start to the tournament. She couldn’t hold her joy in for very long, however.

``We knew we could do this because we beat Brazil and Australia in our preparation games so we had ambitions,″ she said. ``Now, we’re looking forward to living up to our expectations.″

France’s final preliminary round game is against Australia, which is also 4-0 and is considered the second-best team here to the United States. Even if France loses that game, it will finish second in the six-team pool and head to the quarterfinals.

``We’ll see what happens,″ Fijalkowski said with a mischievous smile. ``We can play like we have nothing to lose since we have found our game along the way.″

Fijalkowski played for the WNBA’s Cleveland Rockers in 1997 and 1998, then took the next two seasons off to play for the national team and get ready for the Olympics. She said she will be going back to the WNBA, but all she’s worried about right now is the Olympics.

``We have a big dream,″ she said.

France tied the game 63-63 by scoring the final four points of regulation and had a chance to win but Audrey Sauret missed a running jumper at the buzzer.

Fijalkowski made two free throws with 1:13 left to give France the lead for good at 69-68. Brazil (2-2) missed shots on its next two trips and France followed each with two more free throws to set the stage for the midcourt celebration.

Janeth Arcain, who plays for the WNBA’s Houston Comets and is the tournament’s high scorer at 20.8 points per game, had 22.

South Korea 75, Russia 73, OT

Lee Jong-ae’s 12-foot jumper with 2.8 seconds left in overtime _ just her second field goal of the game _ gave South Korea the victory and kept alive its hopes for an Olympic quarterfinal berth.

South Korea (2-2) would have virtually been eliminated from advancing from pool play if it lost to Russia (2-2). But an 11-for-17 performance from 3-point range allowed the South Koreans to stay with the taller, more experienced team.

Natalia Zassoulskaia’s fastbreak layup with 7.2 seconds left in regulation brought Russia into a 69-69 tie.

Chun Joo-wean, who led South Korea with 22 points, scored on a drive as the shot clock ran out to tie the game 73-73 with 44 seconds to play in overtime.

Russia turned the ball over with 23 seconds left and South Korea worked the ball around for a final shot.

Chung Eun-soon, a 6-foot-1 center who had 16 points and 10 assists, got the ball down low, turned and hit Lee with a bounce pass for the winning shot.

Svetlana Abrosimova, an All-American last season for national champion Connecticut, led Russia with 17 points and six assists. But she had five turnovers, including the final one with 23 seconds left when her entry pass to Zassoulskaia was stolen.

Irina Soumnikova, Russia’s point guard who was struck in the face by an elbow in the opening game against Cuba, returned to the bench for the first time since undergoing two hours of plastic surgery on Monday. She also broke her right wrist in the fall.

``She is the heart of our team and she will not play any more and that is a shame,″ coach Yevgeny Gomelsky said. ``She is feeling a little better every day.″

Slovakia 68, Canada 56

Zuzana Zirkova scored eight of her 11 points in a 22-5 run to open the second half as Slovakia (1-3) moved into good position to advance to the quarterfinals.

Slovakia broke the game open with Zirkova hitting two 3-pointers and another jumper, one that capped the run and made it 51-33 with 12:32 to play.

Slovakia’s only remaining pool game is against winless Senegal and, barring an upset of Brazil by Canada, it should finish fourth in the six-team pool in its first Olympic appearance. That would most probably mean a quarterfinal matchup with the United States.

Renata Hirakova led Slovakia with 16 points.

Tammy Sutton-Brown, who plays at Rutgers, had 16 points for Canada (1-3), while Dianne Norman added 15 points and 10 rebounds and is now averaging 9.8 points and 8.5 rebounds in the tournament.

Australia 96, Senegal 39

The host country took a 19-1 lead, holding Senegal without a field goal for the opening 7:47, and cruised to set up the Pool A matchup of unbeatens with France on Sunday.

Carla Boyd had 15 points to lead Australia, which led 55-18 at halftime.

Michelle Timms, who plays for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and is Australia’s veteran leader, missed her second straight game. She didn’t even attend Wednesday’s win over Slovakia because of a stomach virus. Timms, who sat on the bench for the Senegal game, has been recovering from recent arthroscopic knee surgery.

Mame Mbengue had 11 points to lead Senegal (0-4), which lost its first three games by an average of 30.3 points. Senegal couldn’t handle Australia’s speed and pressure and committed 27 turnovers and shot only 29.8 percent (17-for-57).

Poland 72, Cuba 65

Center Margo Dydek, despite playing the final 24:13 with four fouls, had 32 points, 13 rebounds and five blocked shots as Poland (3-1) clinched a quarterfinal berth in its first Olympic apperance.

The 7-2 Dydek, who plays for the WNBA’s Utah Starzz, picked up her fourth foul with 4:13 left in the first half. Poland coach Tomasz Herkt left in for the rest of the game.

Early in the second half she rarely challenged the Cuban players inside, but it was another matter over the final six minutes.

Yamilet Martinez, Cuba’s 6-5 center, picked up her fourth foul with 18:54 left and Cuba leading 37-35. Coach Jose Ramirez Paz went the more traditional route and kept her out of the game for the next 11:28. When she returned, she scored right away to give Cuba (1-3) a 63-57 lead, the biggest either team had in the second half.

Dydek scored on three straight possesions to tie the game, and when she blocked Lisdeivi Victores’ shot it lead to a three-point play by Sylvia Wlazlak. That gave Poland the lead for good at 66-63 with 3:07 left.

Dydek blocked another shot with 51 seconds left, and when she grabbed her 13th and last rebound she was fouled. She made two free throws with 7.1 seconds to play.

Dydek towered over her teammates as they celebrated on the court after the game, spinning in a circle before turning to wave to their fans in the stands.

Wlazlak finished with 14 points and eight rebounds.

Jacquelin Plutin had 17 points and Martinez added 13 for Cuba, which must beat South Korea on Sunday to advance to the quarterfinals.

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