The Australian women's basketball team got what it wanted - a gold-medal rematch with the United States. Lauren Jackson led Australia inside and
outside in an 88-75 semifinal victory over Brazil on Friday, setting up a meeting of unbeatens for the Olympic title.
"USA, baby, all the way," Jackson said throughout the tournament when asked to look ahead.
The United States did its part to make Jackson's wish come true, beating Russia 66-62 in the other semifinal. Four years ago in Sydney, the U.S. team
pummeled Australia 76-54 to ruin its dream of homeland gold.
"I believe in percentages and the more times you play a team the better your chances of beating them," Australia coach Jan Sterling said. "Hopefully,
one day we'll beat them, and hopefully it's tomorrow."
To get to the rematch, Australia (7-0) had to beat Brazil (4-3) in a replay of a 2000 semifinal. The 6-foot-5 Jackson took care of that with 26 points
and 13 rebounds. The WNBA's MVP with the Seattle Storm last season dominated inside, as she usually does, and helped Australia take a 63-56 lead after
Australia opened the fourth quarter with a 14-7 run that featured four 3-pointers, two by Jackson. Her second 3 made it 77-63 with 5:09 to play, and
the Australian fans began chanting "We love you, Lauren Jackson." She made another 3 with less than a minute to play. Trish Fallon added 14 points for
Australia, while Penny Taylor, Kristi Harrower and Alicia Poto each had 12.
"There is a lot of physical attention paid to Lauren. People say stop Lauren and you stop the Aussies," Sterling said. "But we had five players in
double figures today and can spread that scoring around."
Jackson did a brief TV interview but didn't talk to other reporters. Iziane Marques scored 25 points to lead Brazil, while Alessandra Oliveira added
20 and four-time Olympian Janeth Arcain had 15.
Brazil beat Spain 67-63 in the quarterfinals and Australia beat New Zealand 94-55. The teams met in the preliminary round, a 84-66 victory for the
Aussies. Once again, Australia's balance and depth wore down Brazil in the semis.
When the score was 47-38 early in the third quarter, eight of the nine Australians who played had scored, while all of Brazil's points came from its
three top scorers. Brazil will play Russia on Saturday for a second straight bronze medal. Brazil won the silver in 1996 and Australia took the