LONDON (Olympics) - Medal contenders Russia and Australia both won their games on the opening day of the Olympic Women’s Basketball Tournament in London but both had to grind away against determined opposition.
France were the other winners in Group B after a battle with Brazil.
Russia trailed Canada 50-40 with five minutes remaining but came from behind to win, 58-53.
Becky Hammon scored eight straight points for Russia in a run that ultimately saw them overtake Canada in the closing stages.
She finished with 14 points on six of 13 shooting overall.
“Throughout the game, we couldn’t make our shots,” said Russia’s Anna Petrakova.
“In the end, we picked up it … and Becky Hammon hit some great shots.
“She gave us a tremendous lift. She’s so energetic and made some key shots at the end.”
Kim Smith had a game-high 20 points for Canada, whose fortunes dipped in the second half when center Krista Phillips picked up her fifth foul.
Canada were sensational from long range, making eight of 19 attempts with Smith five of seven.
Australia, who share the number two spot in the FIBA Ranking for Women with Russia, defeated Great Britain, 74-58.
In front of an electric and appreciative crowd, Britain’s women played tough-as-nails defense against the Opals but the powerhouse held on for victory.
Lauren Jackson had 18 points to lead Australia, while Jo Leedham and Rachael Vanderwal poured in 11 apiece to lead a balanced British attack.
The French, who reached the London Games via the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women (OQTW), struggled for more than three quarters against Brazil but finally pulled away in the fourth for a 73-58 win.
Celine Dumerc poured in a career-high 23 points to lead the French.
Les Bleues only led 52-49 after the third quarter but outscored the South Americans 13-4 in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter and took command for good.
"We started the game with a bit of pressure,” Dumerc said.
“We had a lot of stress at the start. We had a lot of turnovers so this gave them a lot of fast-break transition, easy baskets and Brazil likes this type of game.
“As we controlled the turnovers and we didn't let them run, it was okay because on defense, we could find solutions and we didn't let them have easy shots.”