Miao, Chen cherish last dance at Olympics

China's Miao Lijie (right) drives past Australia's Rachel Jarry during a quarterfinal women's basketball game on August 7. Photo: AP

Chinese basketball girls walked away Wednesday from a 75-60 loss to Australia in the quarterfinals of the London Olympic Games, with smiles on their faces.

They battled all the way from the beginning before they collasped in the last part of the fourth quarter against the defending silver medalists, who beat them by 90-56 at the Beijing 2008 and 91-68 at the 2010 World Championships.

Miao Lijie, a 15-year veteran of the national team who had 13 points, said, "This is definitely my last game at the Olympics. I have no regrets. We were not be favored before the Olympics and we made it into the knockout round. I'm happy with the results."

The 31-year-old Miao announced her retirement from the Olympics four years ago at Beijing, but returned when the team needed her leadership.

"I feel it's time (to step down). I think my younger teammates would be glad to see me leaving," Miao said. "The Olympics is not easy for a veteran like me. I'm really surprised to make it through. Now I want the youth to take over the rein."

Center Chen Nan, who had six points and seven rebounds, also confirmed her leaving. "I'm not leaving basketball court but this is my last Olympics."

Chen, 29, competed at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics after she joined in the national team in 1999. She got married in May, but returned to the training camp before taking a honey moon trip.

"I have competed three Olympics so I felt relaxed this time at London. I enjoyed the tournament and I'll remember it for my life. Australia is a good team and (Elizabeth) Cambage will have a promised future. They deserved the victory," Chen said.

Miao scored seven points in the first quarter when Australia led 22-16 before Chen Xiaoli stood up from the bench to had nine points in the second period. China led 36-35 before the break.

Neither team had a clear advantage in the third 10-minute but the Australia inside players showed their dominance in the paint as they led 55-52.

Cambage had 17 points and seven rebounds in less than 25 minutes and Suzy Batkovic adding 10 points and nine rebounds. Australia won on the board by 44-33 and scored 52 points under the basket.

Australia benifited from the inside plays when the exhausted Chinese failed to protect their defensive rebounds in the fourth quarter. A 12-1 run in less than five minutes gave the Australians a 71-58 lead with 3:46 minutes to go.

Ma Zengyu led China with 15 points and five rebounds.


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