The Australian Opals touched down in Bengaluru, India ahead of the Asia Cup confident and ready for this tournament.
They kickstarted their campaign with a devastating opening win against the Philippines, steamrolling their way to a dominant 123-57 victory that saw multiple Opals score in dominant fashion.
The squad also sees a return to national representative duties from one of the most competitive and hungry stars of the hardwood in Abby Bishop.
Bishop’s time in the green and gold has roots going back to junior level world championships, through to winning bronze at the 2012 London Olympics.
Following her WNBA and European playing experience, the forward shared what it meant to be back playing for the Opals on the world stage.
“For me to be back and selected for the squad is very special,” explained Bishop. “As athletes, playing for Australia is your aim.”
National pride has always been a point among Australian athletes, and Bishop is no exception. The forward was one of eight Opals to score in double figures, shooting a perfect 4 of 4 from the field and 3 of 3 from the free throw line. Her 11 points, along with four rebounds, two assists and three steals made for a strong showing against a much smaller opponent.
The Opals lost a 1-point heartbreaker in an Asia Cup thriller to Japan in 2017, Bishop was vocal about the confidence of this squad as they look to make amends this time – the pain from that Japan loss has not been forgotten.
“To be honest, at the end of the day we would be favourites, but that doesn’t mean that we take any team lightly,” Bishop said. “We will go into every game ready and prepared and respecting every team we go up against.
“There will obviously be a lot of different challenges against those teams. For example, the Philippines will be a much smaller side which means they will be a lot faster, but we are a very versatile side ready to play the best basketball we can.”
Grouped with the Philippines, China and New Zealand in Group B, the top team from each group (there are two) will go straight into the semi-finals while the second and third teams in each group will play crossover games to make the final four.
Traditional trans-Tasman rivals, New Zealand will be the Opals’ next opponent, with that game tipping off at 5:45pm AEST, live on Fox Sports 507 and Kayo.
Opals FIBA Asia Cup schedule
24 September: Opals defeated Philippines 122-57
25 September: Opals vs New Zealand – Tip-off at 5:45pm (AEST)
26 September: Opals vs China – Tip-off at 8:00pm (AEST)
27 September: 2nd and 3rd place teams to play (Winner of groups advance)
28 September: Semi-finals
29 September: Medal games