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Basketball - 26. July 2011.

AUS - Batkovic feeling her way back in

TOWNSVILLE (FIBA Oceania Championship Women) - For Suzy Batkovic, this week's friendly series between Australia and China is an exercise in muscle memory.

The veteran center has 115 senior caps to her name, but the one she earned in the opening 73-67 win over China in Logan was her first since the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Trying to get back into the rhythm of international basketball has meant taking small steps and letting everything come back to her.

But it is clearly working as Batkovic played a big role in the Opals shaking off a late deficit to win that opening game.

"I just remember looking at the clock and thinking, alright, the little things," Batkovic said.

"Just getting through each play, I guess when you get a little bit older and sometimes you're a little bit fatigued, you don't focus on the bigger picture, you focus on the then and there, what's going on.

"You try to come up with things because it's tight and every possession counts. When it gets down to the wire, there's no margin for error."

Even though Batkovic has been missing for three years, she has settled back into a leadership role with a young Opals squad, with several players naturally looking to the veteran for guidance.

"I'm a veteran and we've got a lot of young girls here, so I have got to lead," she said. "I've always been a talker and I like to help when I need to and this being a young group, someone has to step in and take that role."

Australia play China for a second time on Thursday night as they near the one-month countdown to their FIBA Oceania Championship series against New Zealand - playing for a ticket to the London Olympics.

"It's about continually improving and continuing to win games," said head coach Carrie Graf. "That's how we're approaching it.
"We want our process to be moving in a forward direction on both those fronts - on-court performance and game results, and the chance to go two-up in this series, having won game one on Sunday night is a natural part of that."


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