Duo’s Opals to face Korea in elimination final
It was a tough night at the office for the Australian Opals – headlined by Flames’ Tess Madgen and Lauren Nicholson – on Wednesday, going down to Japan 91-66 in their final game of the group phase of the 2023 FIBA Women’s Asia Cup in Sydney.
The result sees Australia finish second in group B behind Japan with two wins (coming against the Philippines (104-31) and Chinese Taipei (91-45)) and one loss, with the Opals now set to take on Korea on Friday in the qualifying phase.
It was a physical first quarter on Wednesday night, but the Opals took a handy six-point lead at the first break.
However, Japan showed why they are the reigning Champs, rattling off 17-straight points in the second term, taking it up to the Aussies with some on-target shooting from deep.
That second term set the tone for the remainder of the game. Japan’s defence made it tough for the Opals to get to the rim, while at the other end, they were able to penetrate as well as sinking 17 triples for the game.
There were some glimpses of brilliance from Maddy Rocci – top-scoring with 12 points and five assists, while Alice Kunek was next best for the green and gold with 11 points.
Opals captain Madgen spoke to Basketball Australia Media after the match.
“Obviously really tough night, they shot really well and we didn’t stick to the game plan – we let them have too many open threes,” Madgen said.
“I think we started the game really well, but we got a bit stunned from the second quarter and couldn’t really find our way back from that.
“We expected them to come out and pressure us, but we just didn’t do a good enough job against them tonight.
“We will go back, look at the video and see what we can do better.
“It starts at the defensive end – we pride ourselves on our culture so we will be digging deep, and staying together, and I’m sure the coaches will put a great game plan to play against Korea.”
Australia will now recompose with Thursday’s rest day, before facing Korea in the qualifying phase on Friday, time TBC.