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Basketball - 03. July 2007.

AUS/JPN - Sapphires progress to final eight, beat Japan

VIDNOJE (FIBA U21 World Championship for Women) - The Australian Under 21 Women's basketball team, the Sapphires, clinched a quarter final berth at the 2007 FIBA U21 World Championship for Women after defeating Japan 91-72 at the SK Vidnoje Hall in Vidnoje, Russia.

 
A superb team performance that included five players scoring 11-points or more and a 59-31 rebound count win where the cornerstones in the Sapphires third win of the tournament.
 
The Sapphires are competing at the 2007 FIBA World Championships for Under 21 Women in Vidnoje City, Russia from June 29 to July 8.

"For the first half we got caught in their tempo but we had a great second half," Head Coach Gary Fox said.
 
"We are absolutely delighted to have made it through to the quarter finals but we still need to come out strongly against Brazil tomorrow.
 
"We had a great all round team contribution tonight, in particular from Abby Bishop, Elyse Penaluna and Kathleen MacLeaod."

193cm Victorian centre Elyse Penaluna scored a game high 18 points to lead the Sapphires while 19-year-old Canberra Capitals forward Abby Bishop contributed a powerful 15-point, 15 rebound double-double and Adelaide Lightning guard Renae Camino added 15 points and 7 rebounds in support.

Bendigo Spirit forward Jenna O'Hea scored 13 points to go with six rebounds and six assists and Sprit team mate Kathleen MacLeod extended her tournament lead in most assists per game with an 11-point, 5 rebound and 8 assist performance.
 
Shizuka Uchida scored 13 points to lead Japan with Akino Nakagawa adding 12 points.
 
The Sapphires were yet to lose a first quarter in the tournament and the theme continued tonight after they opened a 23-21 quarter time lead.
 
The Sapphires extended their lead throughout the second term, twice establishing 10-point margins before going into halftime 45-37 in front.
 
With Penaluna running hot in the third term, at one stage she scored 10 straight points, the Australians consolidated their lead to be ahead 70-59 at three quarter time.

The Sapphires easily won the final term 21-13 to record the 19-point victory and guarantee themselves a spot in the quarter finals which begin on Friday, July 6.

Ben Hawes
Basketball Australia

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