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MADRID (FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women) - Belarus beat Brazil 86-79 in an overtime thriller to reach the Olympics for the first time.
In a dramatic last contest, Brazil veteran Iziane refused to enter the game in the second half following a heated discussion during the intermission with coach Paulo Bassul. He later revealed that he has dropped her from the national team.
“I don’t have anyway out,” Paulo Bassul, the Brazil coach said.
“As a leader, I have to make difficult decisions. She didn’t say no just to me, but the group and the country."
Brazil still have a chance to reach the Beijing Games.
They take on Angola on Saturday and if they prevail, the South Americans will take on the winner of Cuba’s game with Japan for the final spot on offer for China at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
In the last quarter-final on Friday, Belarus led 44-31 with 4:59 remaining and looked to be cruising when the Brazilians launched a terrific fightback with a ferocious full-court press.
Franciele, a back-up center, had two baskets - the second with a three-point play - to cut the gap to 46-43.
After the Europeans increased the advantage back to eight, baskets by Franciele and Natalia and a Karla three-ball 15 feet behind the arc at the end of the third quarter reduced the arrears to 51-50.
Brazil, with Iziane sitting on the bench and refusing to play, had the wind in their sails. Karla opened the fourth quarter with another three-pointer.
A Franciele jumper with 8:30 left opened up a 58-52 lead - Brazil's biggest of the game.
Belarus stopped the bleeding when Patricia fouled Tatyana Troina who was shooting from long range. The Belarus star made all three at the charity stripe and after Natallia Marchanka picked off a pass from Franciele, she spotted Troina wide open for an easy lay-up.
The Brazilians kept their noses in front, though, and when Karla drilled another three - she finished five of eight from long range - for a 68-62 lead, it appeared the South Americans were going to claim a famous win.
Belarus didn't cave in, but Karla remained a thorn in their side with her acrobatic lay-up making it 72-67 1:57 from the end.
The Brazilians then went cold.
Troina buried a three-pointer with 1:09 to go to pull Belarus to within 72-70.
After Brazil went to the other end and Karla threw the ball away, both teams had 24-second shot-clock violations, leaving Belarus with just under seven seconds remaining to inbound the ball and go for the tie or the win.
Coming out of a timeout, Micaela fouled Olga Masilionene who made the first but missed the second from the stripe.
However, Anastasiya Verameyenka grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled, yet she only made the second attempt to tie the game with four seconds remaining.
Brazil still had time to rush the ball up the floor but Nataliya Trafimava stole a pass from Patricia and looked to have a chance to hit a running jumper in the lane but lost control of the ball and the buzzer sounded to signal overtime.
Once in the extra period, a Verameyenka three-point play put Belarus in front. After a basket by Karla, Belarus scored nine consecutive points to clinch the win.
Karla led all scorers with 22 points while Natallia Marchanka had 21 for Belarus.