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Basketball - 08. August 2011.

CAN/JPN - McNeill's team falls in decider

FUKUOKA (FIBA Americas Championship for Women) - Canada coach Allison McNeill believes her team is still on track for a strong showing at next month's FIBA Americas Championship for Women despite losing a three-game friendly series at Japan.

The Japanese won the showdown, 2-1, which included a 68-61 triumph in the decider.

"We are very thankful to Japan for hosting us for these three games," McNeill said.

"They are a great team peaking for their qualifiers."

Japan are hosting the FIBA Asia Championship for Women (August 21-28).

Canada faced a big deficit midway through the second half but never gave up.

"Our team continued to improve, as they battled back and outscored Japan 24-13 in the fourth quarter," McNeill said.

"Games like these will only help us on our road to our qualifiers in late September."

One of the bright spots for the Canadians was Tamara Tatham, who played at last year's FIBA World Championship for Women in the Czech Republic.

Tatham poured in 22 points, corralled nine rebounds and came up with five steals.

"Our focus in this game was to come out strong, which I feel we did," said Tatham.

"It was a very physical game, especially in the third, but we definitely battled back."

Next up for the Canadians is the Sino-Canada Women's Basketball Challenge with McNeill's team taking on hosts China in three games.

That event gets underway on August 12.

The FIBA Americas Championship for Women tips off on September 24 in Colombia.

The winners reaches the London Olympics and the teams that come in second, third and fourth will book places at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women.

Japan must win the FIBA Asia Championship for Women or clinch a silver or bronze to earn a trip to the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
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