Opals take care of Puerto Rico, one win away from Tokyo
The Opals took care of business against Puerto Rico in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Bourges, France with a commanding 100-74 victory.
After a difficult loss to France in their opening game, the Opals bounced back behind huge games from Liz Cambage and Ezi Magbegor are are now one win away from Olympic qualification.
Cambage continued her world domination, with the superstar centre pouring in a game-high 31 points (11-20 FG) that included 9 of 10 from the free throw line. along with 6 rebounds. After seeing little action in the loss to France, Magbegor had a significant influence on the game, contributing 15 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists in 20 minutes off the bench.
Australia opened the game in outstanding fashion, with Cayla George draining the three-pointer for the first points of the game. George was influential across the opening minutes of the first period, ensuring the Opals opened up a 13-2 lead. Cambage and Magbegor took over where George left off, as Australia maintained their 11 point lead at the first break.
Cambage took over the game at the start of the second term, with Mitchell helping feed the centre as she scored 10 straight Opals points to keep the scoreboard ticking over. When Sara Blicavs and Kate Ebzery and Mitchell got going offensively, the Opals were threatening to blow open the game as the margin extended to 16 points at half time.
While Cambage continued to dominate after the main break, her team mates also stepped up, with the scoring spread around. Puerto Rico simply had no answer for the Opals whose confidence grew throughout the game. Bec Allen finished off the South Amercians with three triples in the final period, the third in which brought up the 100-mark for Australia, to put the icing on the cake.
Allen finished with 12 points and 6 rebounds, George added 11 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists, while Mitchell provided 9 points and 7 assists.
If it were not for Jazmon Gwathmey's 30 points for Puerto Rico, the final result could have been ugly.
There were encouraging signs for the Opals, shooting 47% from the three-point arc and limiting their turnovers to just 11 for the game.
A win against Brazil in their final outing will assure the Opals of second place in their group and a ticket to the Tokyo Olympics.
Opals Olympic Qualifying Tournament Schedule
Friday, February 7: Australia lost to France 63-72
Sunday, February 9: Australia defeated Puerto Rico 100-74
12:00am, Monday, February 10: Australia vs Brazil