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Basketball - 21. January 2008.

Australia - Beijing hopes receive a boost

From www.theage.com.au
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After his team lost 85-77 to Moscow Spartak Region in Brno, Bobrovsky said: "I know the quality of Spartak Moscow, but from my view is only one player on the world — Lauren Jackson. She decided about the result."

With 33 points and nine rebounds, the world's best player stood out in a star-studded team that leads the Euroleague's group C with an 8-1 mark. Jackson is averaging 22.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in the top European club competition, and is one of a handful of Australian men and women in super form with Russian clubs that, basically, are world all-star teams.

They have Basketball Australia confident of strong performances from Opals and Boomers in the Olympic Games in Beijing in August if they can continue their stellar form.

Three other Opals — Penny Taylor, Kristi Harrower and Suzy Batkovic — play with UMMC Ekaterinburg, on top of group B with an 8-1 mark despite losing 64-62 to top French club Bourges in Ekaterinburg.

Forward Taylor, most valuable player when Australia won gold at the 2006 world championships, averages 9.9 points, seven rebounds and 2.1 assists; point guard Harrower 4.6, 3.4 and 3.9; and centre Batkovic 8.8, 5.2 and 0.8. Fellow Opal Belinda Snell averages 12.2, 4.1 and 3.6 with Bourges, which is second on 5-4.

The Australians' teams sit second (Spartak, 10-1) and third (Ekaterinburg, 8-2) behind CSKA Moscow (11-0) in the Russian Superleague. CSKA (9-0) tops group A in the Euroleague.

Boomer David Andersen, a power forward-centre, had 18 points and nine rebounds as the CSKA Moscow men beat Lithuania's Zalgiris Kaunus 88-60 in group A of the Euroleague. CSKA is on top with a 10-2 record, and leads the Russian Superleague at 13-1.

In the National Basketball League tonight, the Melbourne Tigers (16-6, second) will host the New Zealand Breakers (12-11, eighth), the visitors being without key forward Tony Ronaldson (Achilles). South Dragons (4-18, 13th) will play the Perth Wildcats (13-9, fourth) in Perth.

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