Newcastle Opal expects shining Olympic run

NEWCASTLE'S Jenni Screen says Australia's tough road to the women's basketball quarter-finals will stand them in good stead at the business end of the London Olympics.

The Opals play Canada on Sunday (9.30pm AEST) and a win should allow them to qualify no worse than second in Group B.

Their second-round upset loss to France could come back to haunt them, as it is likely to mean meeting the omnipotent United States before the gold medal game.

But Screen said after Friday's 70-66 win against Russia that Australia would "have nothing to lose" against the US, who have beaten them for the ultimate prize at the past three Olympics.

"We just want to get to the quarter-finals, win that, and then we play for a medal,'' she said.

She felt the Opals had drawn the tougher of the two groups and that would be an advantage in the sudden-death games.

"Unfortunately we dropped a game to France and that's really hurt us,'' she said.

"It's tough. Our pool is really tough.

"I think it might be a bit of a shock to the other pool, because I think we've had the harder competition.

"We've just got to focus on Canada and hopefully the gods are on our side. Maybe France will drop a game. Who knows.''

Screen said Australia would not understimate Canada, who are two and two from their four games.

"They'll be tough,'' she said.

"Most of them play college ball in America, so we have to respect them like any other opponent.

"We can't afford to drop another game. Hopefully we get that second spot in the pool and what will be will be.''

Fellow Novocastrian Suzy Batkovic, appearing at her third Olympics, scored 15 points against Russia to continue her vintage run of form.

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