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Becky HAMMON (Russia). Second day of 2008 Olympic Basketball Tournament for Women, Beijing's Wukesong Arena, China (11th August 2008).
20/08/2008USA/RUS – It just had to happen! Hammon, Russia set to face USA

BEIJING (Olympics) - The United States have moved from strength to strength at the Olympics with Spain the only team able to compete with the Americans.

Even then, Spain trailed 39-34 at half-time of the Group B clash and were eventually blown out 93-55.

The Americans should have a test against Russia in their semi-final on Thursday at the Wukesong Arena, the team that knocked them out in the last four of the 2006 FIBA World Championship.

There are two big differences between that game and this one.

The Americans were missing one of their great Olympians in Brazil with Lisa Leslie not playing to have a baby.

The Russians didn’t have a blond-haired American shooting guard who likes to chew gum and hit three-pointers that goes by the name of Becky Hammon.

Hammon, a player who never made the US national team, became a Russian citizen earlier this year while playing for CSKA Moscow and decided to play for her new country.

She had 17 points in Russia’s come-from-behind semi-final triumph over Spain.

Hammon goes into the semi-final tied with Team USA’s Tina Thompson as the 12th leading scorer in the tournament.

“She’s playing for Russia right now so just like the rest of their team that makes her the enemy when we step on the court,” said USA point guard Sue Bird.

“And this is a friend of mine. But when we step on the court, she’s got the Russia colors on just like the rest of them and we go to war.”

Hammon knows that it will take an extraordinary effort from Russia to beat the Americans. The team had to come from 18 points down to beat Spain in their quarter-final.

"You always have a chance but it's a long shot,” Hammon said.

“They are the best team in the world. They have been proving it for the entire month that they have been together.

“In order for us to compete, we are going to have to play flawless, a perfect game.”

Don’t believe for a second that Hammon and Russia will not go all out for the upset.

“The good thing about basketball and life is that anything can happen on any given night,” Hammon said.

FIBA

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