Congratulations go out from BallinEurope this evening to Team Australia, which took its fifth consecutive Olympic medal by topping Eurobasket Women 2011 winners Russia in the 3rd-place game tonight, 83-74. Already going in without six-time EuroBasket/Olympic medalist Maria Stepanova, Team Russia soon found itself shorthanded when starting center Natalia Vieru racked up three fouls in the game’s first three minutes.

After taking a slim 17-16 lead after one, the Opals pulled away with a 21-14 and 19-13 advantages in the next two quarters to build enough of a lead to withstand a 31-point barrage from the suddenly aggressive display that the Russians are known for. BiE must say this final stanza was one of the better 10 minutes of women’s play he’s seen in some time, with the first nine shots of the period successful, 18-of-27 combined overall shooting for the quarter and lots of lane-driving. Nice stuff by both teams.

USA meets France for the gold medal in just about 30 minutes … game writeup from wire services runs below.

Aussies beat Russia for women’s hoop bronze (via AFP)

Lauren Jackson scored 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead Australia to a women’s basketball medal for the fifth Olympics in a row as the Opals beat Russia 83-74 on Saturday in the bronze-medal game. Australia, which lost to the United States in the semi-finals, also took bronze at the 1996 Olympics…

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