LONDON -- Russia and Australia appeared quite evenly matched as they took to the floor at North Greenwich Arena on Saturday to battle it out for the Olympic bronze medal in women's basketball. North Greenwich, by the way, was originally known as the Millennium Dome, built to house Britain's turn-of-the-century festivities in the year 2000.
On the eve of the gold medal game between the United States and France, we must pause and recognize the historic streak Team USA has put together. The United States women have not lost a game in the Olympics since 1992 and are currently riding a 40-0 winning streak that spans 20 years. A win against France will mean a fifth consecutive gold medal for the women's team, and arguably the most dominating run in Olympic history.
Team USA is plus 83 points off turnovers; the French have allowed four more points off turnovers than they have garnered from their opponents' mistakes. Team USA is plus 168 in the paint; France is plus 10. Team USA is plus 75 on second-chance points; France is minus two. Team USA is plus-118 on the fast break; France is minus seven.
LONDON -- Pierre Vincent has been thinking about it for nearly five years, since he took the reins of the French Women's National Basketball Team in February 2008. The Olympics. Vincent had taken a French men's team led by Tony Parker to gold in the 2000 European Championships and after switching to women's basketball in 2003, he guided his club team Bourges Basket to the domestic grand slam in 2006 and to the Euroleague Women's Final Four in 2007. But this time, his goals were more modest.
LONDON -- Deep in the bowels of North Greenwich Arena, home to London 2012's men's and women's basketball contests in their knockout stages, in a rabbit warren known as the mixed zone, one of the few areas in the Olympic venues where athletes and the media are permitted to interact, Kristi Harrower stood crying.
There’s always a game within the game – and even though Australia would extend a 32-28 second quarter lead to as many as seven before the break, the tide had already turned with 6:11 to go in the second quarter.
The reason? Liz Cambage was exhausted. Up to that point, Cambage had scored 13 points and dominated the game, but she was also completely out of gas. She leaned over at the free-throw line, hands on her knees, and had to come out of the game.
Becky Hammon is the archetype of the scrappy underdog: She came out of obscurity from South Dakota, played college ball at Colorado State and went on to make the New York Liberty roster as a walk-on. A few years later she was traded to San Antonio where she is currently the franchise player the Silver Stars are built around. She has sick handles that even the best players in the world have a tough time defending, she drops pretty dimes to her teammates, and the six-time WNBA All-Star is clutch when her team needs a bucket.
We all know by now that Maya Moore is one of the best basketball players in the world. She won two national championships with Connecticut then grabbed up the Rookie of the Year and the Championship her first year in the WNBA with the Minnesota Lynx. She also became the first female basketball player to sign with Jordan Brand... a cool 3.4 million to swag out in jumpman apparel and custom J's.
It’s the same old song, Australia vs. Team USA going head-to-head in international competition with medals on the line – only this time, it’s in the semifinals rather than the finals. Still, the stakes are just as high and the competition will be just as fierce.