Olympics: Opals weather the storm, catch fire from downtown to beat Brazil

In what was a physical battle, the Opals have got off to a winning start in their 2016 Rio Olympics campaign, defeating Brazil 84-66.

Liz Cambage was dominant on both ends of the court, and kept the Opals alive when Brazil were hot early.

Brazil came out firing, jumping out to a 24-14 lead after the first quarter. The Opals were unable to stop Brazil's hot shooting, with Brazil shooting a ridiculous 85% from the floor in the opening quarter. If it weren't for Cambage's 10 first quarter points, Australia may well have been out of the contest.

.@ECambage causing #BRA a lot of problems early in the women's #basketball #Rio2016 Watch the game live on 7 https://t.co/AcWD1aTQoH

— 7Olympics (@7olympics) August 6, 2016

To Brazil's credit, they had more energy than Australia early, and were simply making their shots - Australia wasn't. But no team is going to shoot 85% for the entire game, and Australia just needed to weather the storm.

In the second quarter, Australia began to fight their way back into the game. The physicality was evident and players from both teams were diving for loose balls and putting their bodies on the line.

LeiLani Mitchell, Penny Taylor and Cambage led the charge in the second quarter, calming things down and hitting shots, ensuring the comeback gathered steam. At half-time, the Opals trailed 35-39.

The third quarter was a back and forth battle, as neither team could gain complete control. Just as Brazil were threatening to pull away, up by 7, Rachael Jarry hit a massive 3 to pull the Opals back in touch. From there, the Opals scored the next 6 points and gained their first lead since very early in the first quarter.

Then came a great highlight - Taylor got the steal and then dished it to Mitchell, who finished the fast break.

Great steal and finish for #AUS Watch live on Seven #Basketball #Rio2016 https://t.co/ioek8gRiQM

— 7Olympics (@7olympics) August 6, 2016

The Opals took a 57-53 lead into the final quarter.

In what would be a sign of things to come, Mitchell drained a three-point shot to open the Opals account in the final quarter.

The Opals caught 🔥 and were unstoppable from downtown! Cayla George was feeling it, hitting 3 triples in the quarter. Taylor and Jarry also joined in on the fun.

A quick look at the Opals' shot chart tells the story of the last quarter.

Opals 4th quarter shot chart - credit: fiba.com

The Opals took over in the last quarter, outscoring Brazil 27-13.

Cambage dominated all game, finishing with a double-double of 20 points and 14 rebounds. Taylor added 17 points, whilst Mitchell scored 18 points and dished out 6 assists.

Cambage's dominance sends a warning to the rest of the competition that she is in peak form and ready to post double-doubles and battle for boards every game.

This performance is a great start for Australia and should give them some confidence going forward. Being able to fight off a slow start and weathering Brazil's hot shooting early is a great sign.

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