Mon, September 23, 2013

American 'traitor' Becky Hammon helps Russia beat Canada

By CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency


Russia's Becky Hammon (centre) during her Group B match against Canada at the London 2012 Olympic Games in London, England, July 28, 2012. (SERGIO PEREZ/Reuters)


LONDON - This was probably just the kind of Olympic moment Becky Hammon was thinking about when she turned her back on the American team and became a Russian citizen.

You can imagine how that played back home.

Hammon, a 35-year-old native of Rapid City, South Dakota, scored eight big points in the closing minutes -- and a team-high 14 on the day -- to help the Russians avoid a huge upset at the hands of Canada in women's basketball.

Hammon, in a controversial move which brought her ridicule in the U.S. as a hardwood traitor, sought Russian citizenship after she was passed over for the American Olympic team before the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

She just wanted to play in the Olympics.

After struggling in the first half and shooting just 1-for-9 from the floor, she took over the game against Canada Saturday with a couple of desperation layups that dropped to help give Russia a 58-53 win.

"I was just trying to read what they gave me," said Hammon. "But then also my three-ball wasn't dropping today (0-for-5) so I kind of wanted to get in the mid-range, get to the basket a little bit and see the ball go in the basket. Sometimes for a shooter sometimes you've just got to see it go in once or twice and then you're good."

She was good.

Hammon said the Russian team skipped the opening ceremony Friday night.

"We watched it on TV just like everybody else," she said.

Was it a team decision?

"It was the coach's decision," said Hammon, "and we listen to the coach."

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

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