Australia is one step closer to punching its ticket for next year’s Paris Olympics, advancing to the qualifying tournaments with a crucial win in the FIBA Asia Cup Quarter Finals.
The Seven Consulting Opals set the tone for a commanding 91-64 victory over Korea with a tournament-high 31 first-quarter points at Sydney’s QuayCentre on Friday.
Australia will now play undefeated Pool A leader China in a semi-final on Saturday night, victory will send the Opals to Sunday’s gold medal match with a loss the direct route to the bronze medal game.
Captain and player of the game Tess Madgen had a telling impact with her composure and experience combining 14 points with 6 rebounds, 5 assists and a steal.
Lauren Scherf (14 points, 9 rebounds) asserted her dominance at both ends early, Maddy Rocci (9 points, 5 steals, 4 assists) excelled stepping into the starting line-up, while Shyla Heal provided (9 points, 4 steals, 2 assists) a spark off the bench.
A relieved and proud Madgen attributed the win to an improved defensive effort, believing it will hold Australia in good stead against China.
“We played typical Opals-style basketball which starts on the defensive end and we looked to get out and run and power the ball inside which is obviously where we have our advantage,” she told BA Media post-game.
“I’m pumped, it’s what we came here to do, we want to beat China in a tournament, we haven’t done that for some time. We had a really good match-up last week against them in a practice game, I absolutely have no doubt we can get the job done against them.
“We’re physical, we’re tough, we’re strong, we’re versatile and I think we’re going to take it right up to them tomorrow and they should be scared.”
The Opals face China at 7.30pm on Saturday night, with bronze and gold medal games to be played on Sunday afternoon.