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Canadian women’s basketball team will battle Japan for last Olympic berth

Canada's Teresa Gabriele (L) goes for a basket against Croatia's Luca Ivankovic (R) during their 2012 women's FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Ankara June 29, 2012.

UMIT BEKTAS/REUTERS

The Canadian women's basketball team is still alive in its pursuit of the final qualification spot for the London Games.

Canada defeated Argentina 58-41 on Saturday to reach the final game at the FIBA Olympic qualifying tournament. Canada and Japan will square off Sunday for the last remaining berth.

Canadian head coach Allison McNeill said the players and coaching staff have worked really hard over the last few years to get to this point.

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She's confident her players will be ready for the must-win game.

"At some point you have to just trust your training, trust what you've done, trust the work and go in and play it," McNeill said.

Canada led Argentina 26-19 at the half and pulled away in the fourth quarter. Courtnay Pilypaitis of Orleans, Ont., led all scorers with 12 points.

"I'm just pleased with the win and pleased with our defence especially," McNeill said. "I think we can even execute better at the offensive end and we're going to have to I think to beat Japan."

The Czech Republic, Croatia, Turkey and France all locked up Olympic berths with victories Friday.

Japan advanced to the final game with a 79-51 win over Korea.

Both Japan and Canada have split their first four games. Canada holds the No. 11 position in the FIBA world rankings, four positions ahead of Japan.

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The Canadian women's team last played in the Olympics at the 2000 Games in Sydney.

The Canadians failed to earn a London berth at the FIBA Americas qualifying tournament last fall, but their third-place finish guaranteed them a spot in this last-chance 12-chance qualifier.

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