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Opals face US nemesis a match early
Guy Hand
22:07 AEST Wed Aug 8 2012

The Opals have waited four years for this.

The United States, the world's best women's basketball team and reigning gold medallists.

The team that has beaten them in the past three Olympic finals.

A team destroying its rivals in London. No apparent weakness. No shortage of strengths.

Their Thursday match-up at the Olympic Games comes one match earlier than most expected and the Opals wanted - in the semi-finals because of the vagaries of basketball's draw.

But if there's any trepidation on Australia's part, it's well hidden.

So far it's been all about grit to get this far for the Opals, who have struggled to get all their elements working at the one time in London.

While they have won five of their six matches - the latest a 15-point quarter-final win over China - they'll need everything to align to avenge their Beijing gold medal game defeat.

Otherwise they will be consigned to the bronze medal playoff.

"It's going to be a battle, it's going to be a big battle," Opals star Liz Cambage says of a US team which leads the tournament in scoring and backs it up with the toughest of defence.

Back-up point guard Sam Richards says Australia's lead-up is going to be spent watching video, hoping to crack the code of the gold medal favourites and finally post a win against a team which has always had the Opals' measure in big tournaments.

"They run and gun, they're athletic, there's pressure," Richards said.

"We're going to be doing our best to make sure we stop their running game, stop the energy they have.

"If we can do that, we've got the players and capabilities to really shake things up."

Free-scoring two-guard Diana Taurasi leads the attacking weapons for the US - a line-up bench guard Angel McCoughtry brashly likens to the great Michael Jordan-led men's team of 1992.

"Our team is special. It's like the Barcelona Dream Team for women," McCoughtry said.

"It's all about the chemistry. It's a group of stars that work together for the team."

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Opening Ceremony
Archery
Athletics
Badminton
Basketball
Beach Volleyball
Boxing
BMX
Cycling
Diving
Equestrian
Fencing
Football
Gymnastics
Handball
Hockey
Judo
Modern Pentathlon
Rowing/Canoe/Kayak
Sailing
Shooting
Swimming
Synchro
Table Tennis
Taekwondo
Tennis
Triathlon
Volleyball
Water Polo
Weightlifting
Wrestling
Closing ceremony
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