By Larry Fine
LONDON (Reuters) - France completed an unbeaten march through the preliminary round of the Olympic women's basketball tournament with a 65-54 victory over Russia on Sunday that set up a quarter-finals clash against the Czech Republic.
A 10-0 run in the third quarter lifted the French to a victory that clinched them first place in Group B with a 5-0 record, while dropping Russia to 3-2.
Seedings determine the match-ups in the next knockout phase, but otherwise the slate is wiped clean.
"We are top of the group, but it gives us nothing," said French coach Pierre Vincent. "We have to win one game to fight for the semi-finals."
Celine Dumerc, whose two dramatic three-pointers carried France to an overtime win over Britain on Friday, scored 12 points to lead France. Evgeniya Belyakova was top scorer for Russia with 14 points.
"It was a terrible game from our side," said Russia coach Boris Sokolovskiy, whose team had already qualified for the quarter-finals. They shot a woeful 19-of-61, just 31 percent.
With an 82-47 thumping of winless Angola, the Czechs improved to 2-3 and claimed the fourth and last quarter-finals berth in Group A, assuring them a game against the French for a place in the semi-finals.
The Czech Republic came out firing against the overmatched Angolans, led by Michaela Zrustova (20 points) and Eva Viteckova (19 points).
Nacissela Mauricio scored 18 points to lead Angola.
Czech coach Lubor Blazek said he had great respect for the French team, particularly their point guards, but felt there was not much separating the leading teams from Group B, that also includes Australia.
"The next step in this tournament is another level and other issues come in," said Blazek. "There might be big pressure on players who are favorites. The task for our team is just to believe in ourselves.
"Picking from France, Russia or Australia to play against, it's hard to pick which team we would have preferred to play. So we just kind of have drawn France and we will do our best to have a good game."
Angola (0-5) return home happy for the opportunity to play in their first Olympic women's basketball tournament, while understanding they still face a gap with the best teams in the world, having been outscored by an average of 30 points a game.
"Our involvement has been fantastic," said forward Angela Cardoso. "We've done our very best. We haven't previously had such a level of competition. And we've really enjoyed the welcome we've been given here in London."
Said Angola coach Anibal Moreira: "I'm very happy and I'm proud because we've had this opportunity to play with the best teams in the world. We've learned an awful lot from this experience."
(Editing by Nigel Hunt)