Russia And France To Meet In Semi-Final

08 August 2012

9. Céline DUMERC (France). 8. Edwige LAWSON-WADE (France)
Celine Dumerc and her teammates had reason to celebrate, as France reached their first ever Olympic Semi-Final

It's been 12 long years since the French women played at an Olympic Games.

Les Bleues are making the most of their return to the big stage.

Pierre Vincent's team rode another inspirational effort from 23-point Celine Dumerc to a 71-68 victory over the Czech Republic on Tuesday night.

France, who came from 13 points down in the second half to win, will now face European rivals Russia in the Semi-Finals.

The Russians had to pull out all stops to win their game against Turkey, 66-63.

It all means that Europe will have a team in the gold-medal game.

Dumerc, who has turned in one superb game after another for France this summer, connected on three of four shots from the arc and scored 17 of her points after the break.

Asked how she has been able to perform at such a high level at the London Games, her coach offered an explanation.

"The effect of the Opening Ceremony," Vincent said.

Dumerc admitted she is living in the clouds as an Olympian.

"Every day, I'm waking up, thinking that we're at the Olympics and this makes me feel so good, so happy," she said.

"Even if I'm tired, I just look around at all these rings everywhere, all these athletes. All this passion for sport is exactly who I am. I love to play the game."

Dumerc joked that Olympic rings may have to be placed in the Prado, the home arena of her club side, Bourges, since she has done so well at the London Games.

Bourges teammate Endene Miyem also had a big hand in France's comeback with all 14 of her points coming in the second-half and most of them in the fourth quarter.

"I don't know what to say," Vincent said.

"We beat a good team tonight. They had a really good game. I don't know where we found the energy, the confidence to win the game."

Czech coach Lubor Blazek cut a disappointed figure after the loss.

"This is one of the hardest games for me to evaluate," he said.

"We were even opponents for France. What we thought, what we heard, was that no one was giving us many chances for victory.

"I'm happy that a team ranked by the French media as the lowest quality team of Group A played a good game tonight."

Blazek has had some great moments with the Czech Republic, leading them into the Final of the 2010 World Championship.

Tuesday was shaping up to be another before Miyem and Dumerc saved France.

"This is what sport is about," he said.

"Of course it's much nicer to win, and especially it's great to win when playing a crucial game tonight that could have brought us higher.

9. Becky HAMMON (Russia)
Becky Hammon led the way for Russia with 19 points

"It was basically details to decide it. I just have to say congratulations to France on today's victory."

Ilona Burgrova, the Czech center who once played for Vincent at Bourges, said: "My heart says we were a better team tonight, but we weren't able to finish what we started.

"The details were the key."

Russia got another all-star performance from Becky Hammon as they knocked off Turkey.

Hammon, who made her Russia debut at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, had 19 points.

Veterans Irina Osipova and Ilona Korstin also made big contributions for the team in the final minutes.

"We're excited to be moving into the semis," Hammon said.

"We kind of snuck away with that one.

"Everyone is fatigued so we need to rest, watch some (game) videos and come up with a game plan."


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