BEIJING (Olympics) – Australia wiped the floor with the Czech Republic in the quarter-finals of the Olympic women’s basketball tournament by winning 79-46, but Penny Taylor sprained an ankle which has left the star forward in doubt for Thursday’s semi-final against China.
Taylor, the most valuable player of the 2006 FIBA World Championship for Women after leading the Aussies to gold, rolled her right ankle while attempting to split a pair of Czech defenders less than a minute into the third quarter and played no further part in the game.
"Penny's situation clouds us a little bit,” Australia coach Jan Stirling said.
“An ankle injury like that depends on the next 24 hours. She will have ice for every two hours.
"It does look quite significant at this point. If she is not ready to go, that's sport. Someone else has to step up. I feel for Penny as do the rest of the team. If it's not to be it's not to be."
Taylor had her right ankle in a tub of ice most of the second half before putting her sock and shoe back on at the end of the game to exit the arena.
“She’s one of our core players, and our vice-captain,” said Belinda Snell. “She’s our leader.”
Point guard Kristi Harrower is hopeful that Taylor will make it back in time to face China, a team led by former Australia coach Tom Maher.
“I don’t know anything at the moment,” Harrower said to FIBA.com. “But I don’t think we’re worried. I hurt my ankle two years ago in the semi-final against Brazil (at the FIBA World Championship) and came out and played two days later in the final.
“As long as she sticks with the routine of having ice every two hours, I reckon she’ll be out on the court with us.”
As for the game, the Czech women were headed towards an Olympic record they would not appreciate when it looked as if they might have just 12 points at half-time.
They got a couple of late buckets and went to the changing rooms trailing 38-17.
Only two teams have scored fewer points by half-time at the Olympics. Twenty years ago in Seoul, Korea, Yugoslavia led Czechoslovakia 41-15 while in 2000, Slovenia held a 27-12 lead over Senegal.
On Tuesday, Lauren Jackson had 17 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Aussies, who also got 15 and nine from Snell.
The Czech Republic were unrecognisable from the team that has been such a force in European basketball the past several years.
Jan Bobrovsky’s team reached the final of EuroBasket in 2003 in Greece and won the European title two years later in Turkey.
They will leave Beijing with two wins against big underdogs Mali and New Zealand.
“I think to lose by 33 points for the way we played, it was a very good result,” Ivana Vecerova said.
When asked if this was the end of a golden era for the Czech Republic women’s basketball, coach Jan Bobrovsky said: "I don't think it's the end of the generation.
“This team was in four months playing too much together and it's a little bit too much for the players to be playing so much.”
The Czech Republic went to the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in June and won three games. FIBA