Greece next for U.S. women's team
The Americans romped past China, but may have lost Katie Smith.
ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- With an emotional lift from its adoring fans, Greece made it to the quarterfinals of the Olympic women's basketball tournament.
Katie Smith might not be as lucky.
Smith, a tough, experienced guard and the U.S. team's best outside shooter, could be lost for the rest of the Athens Games after reinjuring her right knee in the first quarter of a 100-62 romp past China on Sunday.
All she could do was watch from the end of the bench, her knee heavily wrapped, as her teammates finished the preliminary round with a solid performance that included a breakout game by Diana Taurasi.
"Things happen," said Smith, who bruised the knee in late July and missed the first game in Athens. "Whatever I did, I don't know. It's frustrating a little bit. What are you going to do?"
Certainly not what Greece's players did after clinching a quarterfinal berth with a thrilling 93-91 victory over Japan. They gathered in a circle at midcourt, locked arms and kicked up their heels in a dance known as the Syrtaki.
Within minutes, most had thrown their warmup jackets into the stands. Others tossed their jerseys, too, as the heavily partisan crowd of 7,223 at the Helliniko Indoor Arena continued to cheer and wave flags.
"The building was shaking when we walked in with 2.9 seconds left," Taurasi said. "These people know how to have a blast."
The postgame scene might not be so raucous the next time. Because Greece, which made the Olympics only because it's the host nation, will run right smack into the Americans in its quarterfinal game Wednesday.
22nd straight win
The U.S. team is deeper, more talented and knows a lot more about winning. Sunday's victory was the 22nd straight in the Olympics for the United States, which finished first in Group B and is seeking its third consecutive gold medal.
Still, the Greeks say they'll show up.
"We will go in Wednesday and play a very good team," coach Georgios Tsitskaris said. "Of course, we won't come here as lambs to be slaughtered."
Group A champion Australia, the only other unbeaten team in the Olympic tournament, plays New Zealand in a reunion game. New Zealand is coached by Tom Maher, who guided Australia to the bronze medal in the 1996 Olympics and the silver in the 2000 Sydney Games.
Australia lost to the United States 76-54 in the 2000 gold medal game. That's why Aussie standout Lauren Jackson answered so quickly when asked who she'd like to play if her team reached the finals again.
"The USA, baby," she shot back. "All the way."
In the other quarterfinal games, Russia meets the Czech Republic and Spain plays Brazil. The semifinals are Friday and the medal games are Saturday.