The Opals opened their FIBA Women’s Olympic Pre-Qualifying tournament in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with a commanding 84-51 win against Chinese Taipei.
Behind a dominant Australian front court performance led by 16 points (8-12 FG) and 7 rebounds from Liz Cambage in just 16 minutes, Chinese were simply overpowered by the Opals’ size and interior dominance.
Cayla George added 12 points and 9 rebounds in 18 minutes, Bec Allen posted 13 points, and Steph Talbot 11 points with 8 rebounds and 3 assists, with everyone on the Opals roster playing playing 9 minutes or more, with only Darcee Garbin going scoreless.
Head coach Sandy Brondello rolled out an imposing starting lineup comprising of Liz Cambage, Cayla George, Bec Allen, Steph Talbot and Leilani Mitchell, with the Opals size causing havoc for their much shorter opponents.
Cambage imposed herself on the game early, scoring the first 6 points of the game. Steph Talbot reeled off 5 points including a triple, to help offset some early turnovers. Allen then also got going offensively, draining a three-pointer alongside another bucket to stretch the margin. With Cambage getting involved again to notch up her 8th points of the term, Australia had opened up a commanding 26-9 lead at the first break.
Opening the second term with authority was Cambage, scoring inside at one end and swatting a shot away at the other. Chinese Taipei continued to fire from long range, making a couple to get the margin back under 20 points. Australia would then unleash a 14-2 run to blow the margin out to 29 and force Chinese Taipei into a timeout.
Australia came out of the timeout and coughed up the ball on consecutive possessions, allowing their opponents to finish the half on a 3-0 run and with something positive to talk about at the half time break trailing by 26.
With 8 turnovers up to half time, the Opals had given the ball away 3 more times than their smaller opponents. However Australia were dominating the glass 31-14 and outscored Chinese Taipei 28-4 in the paint.
The Australian turnovers continued to mount as the third quarter got underway, with the Opals coughing up 4 inside the opening 2 minutes. Despite being placed under plenty of attention, Cambage continued to find the bottom of the net to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Three-pointers to Tess Madgen and Kate Ebzery allowed Australia to keep piling on the pressure despite the turnovers mounting. Two more triples to Tess Lavey and then Jenna O’Hea inside the final minute of the term would ultimately ensure the Opals had pushed the lead out to 39 at the last break.
Chinese Taipei opened the final quarter on fire from beyond the arc, making two straight three-pointers of their own to go on an 8-0 run that started at the end of the third. Allen ended the run by making a basket, with Brondello calling a timeout shortly after to regroup her troops. Allen scored again on the resumption of play, only to see their opponents hit another three at the other end. The New York Liberty star would hit again on a fadeaway and Marianna Tolo would follow with a score of her own, however scoring became tougher as the game turned into a scrap with the result beyond a doubt.Two tough turnovers with no foul called allowed Chinese Taipei to finish on a 6-0 to win the final quarter 18-12 in a 33 point loss.
It was a disappointing final quarter by the Opals who continued to rack up the turnovers, giving up 22 for the game, continuing a trend seen at the recent FIBA Asia Cup. However Australia shot at almost 61% from the field while dominating the rebound count 50-25 and racking up 44 points to 12 in the paint.
Marianna Tolo also impressed in her return to the Opals, adding 8 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists in 18 minutes.
Following their opening win, Australia’s attention now turns to India who played their opening game against Japan. That game will be played on Saturday night, tipping off at 8:00pm AEDT and broadcast live on The Pick and Roll’s Facebook page.
Catch every game live via The Pick and Roll’s Facebook page.
14 November: Australia defeated Chinese Taipei |
16 November: Australia vs India | 8:00pm AEST
17 November: Australia vs Japan | 9:00pm AEST