By Larry Fine
LONDON (Reuters) - The stakes will be raised in the Olympic women's basketball tournament with the knockout stage starting with Tuesday's quarter-finals, and the Australian team believes they are ready for the fight ahead.
"I think we've got some street fighters on our team, absolutely," Australian coach Carrie Graf said after her Opals prevailed 72-63 over a scrappy Canada team in a rugged game in which two Canadian players fouled out.
"I think everyone on our team plays like Aussies. We're not going to roll over in any game. We're going to grind it out, dig it out, scratch and bite and do whatever it takes to find a way to win.
"If you had our girls on the street and they had to get themselves out of something, I think we have got some big strong women that won't shy away from a dog fight and that's one of the strengths of this team.
"It's unpretty at times but we find a way to fight."
Winners of the last three Olympic silver medals, Australia (4-1) finished the preliminary round of the tournament behind France in Group B after their win against Canada.
Lauren Jackson helped seal the victory win by sinking eight successive free throws in the final 68 seconds of the game.
She said she did not feel pressure at the free throw line, rather relief that she was getting a brief break from the physical pounding she was taking from her opponents.
"Considering the physicality of the game, it was kind of nicer to be standing on the free throw line rather than being beaten on the court," the Australian captain said.
"It was a rough game. I think all of our games have been relatively physical. It's been hard but I guess it's making us better and getting us ready for the next round."
Australia face China (3-2) in the quarter-finals.
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)