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Canada storm into basketball World Cup quarters, as Australia, France close in

1. Basketball (2) ALTERNATIVE
Canada’s Nirra Fields (left) drives to the basket during the Women’s Basketball World Cup group B game between Japan and Canada in Sydney on September 25, 2022. (Photo: AFP)

SYDNEY, Australia — Canada stormed into the women’s basketball World Cup quarterfinals with a comfortable 70–56 victory over Japan on Sunday, as France and Australia moved closer to the knockout stage.  اضافة اعلان

Gaining a stranglehold of the tough Pool B, Canada joined holders the United States as the only undefeated teams so far.

Hosts Australia defeated Serbia 69–54 and France overcame Mali 74–59 to keep pace with their second wins of the 10-day competition in Sydney.

Impressing under new coach Victor Lapena, Canada have cemented their title credentials after blunting Asian champions and last year’s Olympic silver medalists Japan.

They led 41–25 at half-time before cruising to victory and restricted the normally smooth-shooting Japan to just 17 percent from three.

Bridget Carleton starred for Canada with 19 points, while captain Maki Takada was Japan’s only player in double figures with 11 points. 

“It was a masterclass from our team in controlling the game and pace,” Lapena said. “We are growing up as a team.”

After their second straight defeat, Japan face an uphill battle to make the quarter-finals with games ahead against France and Australia. 

The top four teams from each of the two groups progress.

“Canada pressured well and we need to fix our offense because teams have analyzed us well,” said Japan coach Toru Onzuka.

France began as strong favorites, but started slowly and were rattled by an aggressive Mali.  

They steadied through WNBA player Gabby Williams, who scored 14 points, with seven rebounds and six assists, and she had help from Alexia Chartereau (12 points). 

France failed to recapture the form shown in their stunning day one upset over Australia, but regrouped after crashing to Canada on Friday.

“It was a difficult game. Our rebounding was really, really weak,” said France coach Jean-Aime Toupane. “We need to improve our physicality over the next two games.”  

Winless Mali were uncompetitive against Japan and Australia, notably struggling offensively, but 20-year-old power forward Sika Kone (18 points, 18 rebounds) dominated around the basket to trouble France.  

Mali sensed a major upset when they cut France’s lead to 65–57 midway through the final quarter before Sarah Michel’s three-pointer in the right corner snuffed out the challenge. 

Australia will be sweating on the fitness of forward Bec Allen, who hobbled off late in their win over Serbia after suffering a knock.

Allen top-scored with 16 points, while 41-year-old Lauren Jackson, three games into her comeback, chipped in with nine points and three rebounds. 

“I think she got crushed when she went for the ball, in her ribs,” Australia coach Sandy Brondello said of Allen.

“It’s the next person up if she has to miss a game here or there.”

An attacking Australia put Serbia into early foul trouble and raced out to an 18–10 lead after the first quarter. 

Willed on by a rowdy near-capacity crowd, Australia’s hard-nosed defense forced Serbia into continual shot clock violations to maintain an eight-point advantage at half-time. 

European champions Serbia, who lost stars Sonja Vasic and Jelena Brooks to retirement earlier this year, attempted a rally through Yvonne Anderson (16 points) but Australia had all the answers to win their second straight game. 

With just one win under their belt, Serbia are in danger of an early exit and face Mali on Monday.

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