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September 22, 2000

Team must rebound to stay in game

By Murray Campbell
Globe and Mail Update

Sydney — The Canadian women's basketball team dug a hole for itself on Friday in its attempt to reach the final round of the Olympic tournament.

Slovakia took advantage of tightness in the Canadian game to win a crucial game 68-56.

Canada entered the game one point ahead of the Slovaks but the two teams are now tied. The advantage in the race to qualify for the medal round of competition lies with the Slovaks who play last-place Senegal on Sunday while Canada must face second-place Brazil.

Even if the two teams are tied at the end of the qualifying round, the advantage would likely go to Slovakia on the basis of points scored.

Slovakia started the game strongly, at one point building up an 11-point lead but Canada battled back to close the half down just one point, 29-28.

But the doors fell off when the Slovaks scored quickly and often in the opening minutes of the second half.

"We didn't have a particularly great start to the second half and that rocked our confidence and it gave them the momentum to feel comfortable," said Canadian coach Bev Smith. "We're just weren't able to stop the hemorrhage and it kept going."

He said the Canadians were surprised by the play of Slovakian forward Marcela Kalistova, who hadn't hit a three-point shot throughout the tournament but nailed all four she attempted in this game.

She said the Canadian women created scoring opportunities but didn't capitalize on them. The Canadians sank just 38 per cent of their shots, compared with 47 per cent for the Slovaks.

"You have to match your opponent bucket for bucket and we didn't do that," Smith said.

The Canadian coach admitted that her team faced a challenge in defeating Brazil while the Slovaks were almost certain to defeat Senegal.

"It's pretty tough right now but you never know what can happen in international basketball and we just have to finish as best as we can," she said.

"We've got to rebound from this which will be hard to do because probably people think there isn't much to dig for but we're at the Olympics, and if we can't fifth, sixth, seventh or eighth, we'll come ninth and that's the best we can do."

reprinted with permission

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