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Basketball - 02. October 2007.

USA - Women qualify for Beijing Olympics with victory over Cuba

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Four U.S. scorers finished in double digits, including Tina Thompson, who had 18 points and six rebounds, Katie Smith with 15 points and Candace Parker, who chipped in with 12.

The win automatically qualifies the United States team for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Suchitel Avila scored a team-high 14 points for Cuba, which came back from a nine-point halftime deficit to upset Brazil, 69-67, on Saturday to reach the final game.

basketballUSAteamCHIL.jpg



Cuba also got 13 points from Oyanaisy Gelis and 11 from Yakelyn Plutin.

The Americans cruised to a 29-13 lead in the first quarter and built a 49-30 lead at the midpoint.

USA then outscored Cuba, 29-14, in the third quarter and cruised to the final buzzer to claim the gold.

"It feels great to have a berth to Beijing and have this behind us," said USA head coach Anne Donovan. "But what feels better is where we are right now as a team. I feel so proud with how hard these women have worked and how much it’s paid off.

"We jumped on them right away. I thought we stayed focused throughout the game with our bench. It was a really great effort throughout this tournament, five games in five days. We started with the best team in the tournament, we finished with the best team in the tournament," Donovan added.

The Americans shot an even 50 percent from the field, including 42.3 percent (11-of-26) from three-point range, and limited Cuba to just 33.8 percent from the floor and 31 percent (9-of-29) from beyond the arc.

Brazil, the bronze medal winner, along with Argentina and Cuba still have a chance at the 12-nation Olympic field, as they've all qualified to compete in the 2008 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament, scheduled to be played in June.

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