Opals dominate DPR Korea to qualify for semi final & World Cup
The Australian Opals have booked their berth to the 2018 FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup after a strong opening half saw off DPR Korea 81-48 in their FIBA Asian Cup quarter final in Bengaluru, India.
Alanna Smith was electric in her limited minutes, registering a team high 20 points to go along with nine rebounds in just over 14 minutes.
She was aided by Sara Blicavs' 13 points and five rebounds plus Steph Blicavs' (Cumming) 11 points, while Kelsey Griffin (9 points, 6 rebounds) and Katie-Rae Ebzery (7 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists) were important in the opening twenty minutes.
It was a dominating first half display from the Opals who controlled from the offset, opening with a 9-0 run and never looking back.
Rebounding was a huge asset for Australia, who completely cleaned their opponents off the glass 50-22.
The Opals took a commanding 49-23 lead into the main break, off the back of Sara Blicavs' 10 points and Steph Blicavs nine.
Australia's defensive intensity was on full display, finding their way into the passing lanes often, ultimately creating easy transition baskets at the other end.
Lauren Mansfield (5 points, 5 rebounds) and Tessa Lavey (4 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists) had the ball on a string and that filtered through to the rest of the team, with pristine ball movement on display both on the inside and around the arc.
Steph Blicavs found her range beyond the arc, nailing triples from the corner to keep the scoreboard ticking, while Griffin and Marianna Tolo (4 points, 6 reboudns) were much the same inside the paint.
Things dried up a little in the third term, with a Katie-Rae Ebzery pass to a cutting Alanna Smith to stretch the lead to 30 (56-26) one of the few highlights in an eleven point quarter.
However, Smith stepped up again in the fourth, patrolling the paint and finding great position to regain control of the contest.
The Opals now face South Korea in the semi-final this Friday at 8pm AEST, an opponent they faced in the pool stages (won 78-54) and were really only separated by a 20-3 second quarter Opals blitz.
Australia will take into account their high pressure defence which caused South Korea many troubles throughout the contest, something which they will look to replicate.
The winner will advance to the FIBA Asian Cup final to face one of China/Philippines/Japan/Chinese Taipei, who will compete in quarter final match-ups tonight.
Australia 81-48 DPR Korea Aus: Smith 20, Sara Blicavs 13, Steph Blicavs 11 DPR: Ro 22, Kim 7, Pak 7 Box Score