The first dunk in women's Olympic basketball history won't conjure any memories of Julius Erving or Dominique Wilkins, but it wasn't barely propelled over the rim either.
Midway through the third quarter of Australia's 70-66 victory over Russia on Friday afternoon, 6-foot-8 Aussie center Elizabeth Cambage received a pass at the free-throw line and found a wide-open lane to the basket. The 20-year-old drove to the rim and effortlessly threw down a one-handed dunk, a feat she had only done in practice prior to Friday.
"It's good to finally do it and get everyone off my back about it," Cambage told reporters in London. "I was wide open and I felt it and just did it. It was an out-of-body experience. I wasn't thinking about it."
Whereas U.S. basketball fans are somewhat accustomed to women dunking in games from past slams by Brittney Griner, Candace Parker and Lisa Leslie, Cambage's dunk left many international fans mesmerized. The London crowd stood and roared, her teammates jumped off the bench in celebration and TV commentators on the BBC reacted as though she'd just done a back flip.
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Overreaction or not, there's no question that Cambage's dunk is good for women's basketball because it will get folks talking about the sport both in the United States and abroad. FIBA could not officially confirm that Cambage is the only player to have dunked in an Olympic game, but veteran players and coaches all said it was the first time they remembered it happening.
"To have someone dunk at the Olympics, and a rising star of the women's world game is huge," Australian coach Carrie Graf told reporters in London. "It's one of the many things that will continue to put women's basketball on the map as a global game."
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