Opals handle the heat

Two huge blocks and a clutch three-pointer sees the Seven Consulting Opals one step closer to Paris.

The Seven Consulting Opals overcame an emotion-fuelled Brazil to open their FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament campaign with a win on Friday.

Australia led by as much as 14 points in front of a vocal home crowd in Belem, Brazil then held off the fast-finishing host nation to win an entertaining contest, 60-55.

The Opals must finish top three in their four-nation pool to qualify for this year’s Paris Olympics. With a win under its belt, Australia now turns focus to its next game on Sunday (7am, AEDT) against Germany who upset Serbia, 73-66, on the opening day of play.

Ezi Magbegor was the star for Australia at both ends with a game-high 18 points, she hauled in 7 rebounds and produced three massive blocks in the dying minutes with the game on the line.

Bec Allen paced the Opals early, with 8 of her country’s first 10 points, and finished with 14 points alongside 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 steal.

While Australia led by double digits at the main break, Brazil stayed in the game through their hot shooting, having gone at 50 per cent from the three in the first term.

As the pressure rose, so did the crowd support as the host nation reeled in the lead, levelled the game then went ahead by three points with under five minutes to go before the experienced Cayla George sunk a timely three to regain the advantage for Australia.

In her first game at FIBA level, point guard Steph Reid, who clocked just over 11 minutes, subbed into the game in the opening quarter and scored her first points by the first break.

Australia 60 (Magbegor 18 points, Allen 14 points) defeated Brazil 55 (Soares 11, Dantas 11)

Box score found here

Game 2
Australia vs Germany Sunday 7am, AEDT ESPN/Kayo


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