Opals draw first blood

September 22, 2018 | Townsville Fire news

Australia has secured a hard-fought victory over Nigeria to commence their 2018 FIBA World Cup campaign in Spain.

While an 86-68 margin pointed to a comfortable win it was anything but for the Chemist Warehouse Opals, who needed all of their firepower to overcome the world number 34.

JCU Townsville Fire star Tess Madgen was outstanding playing as the Opals’ back-up point guard as she controlled the tempo – and resisted the Nigerians’ fierce ball pressure – to finish with eight points, three rebounds, one assist and a huge block.

Liz Cambage was the difference between the two sides, however, as the former Melbourne centre posted a game-high 34 points and 12 rebounds.

With Australia seemingly in control in the opening term, Madgen was inserted into the game to run the point and looked right at ease in the game’s showpiece tournament.

A late Cambage onslaught provided the Opals with a 24-17 lead at quarter-time before Madgen showed great shot-clock awareness to start the second term to make a tough turnaround jumper.

A 42-31 margin at half-time provided a nice cushion but Nigeria refused to go away as they won the third term to reduce the margin to single figures going into the final break.

The Opals finally busted the game open late in proceedings as they clinched an 18-point win.

They will now back up against Argentina from 8pm this evening, who will be desperate to receover after dopping their opening pool game 37-63 to Turkey.

Placed into Group B, the Opals will automatically advance to the quarter-finals if they can top their group, but a second or third-placed finish will see them placed into a qualification game.

FOX SPORTS Australia will broadcast all Australian games live and exclusive.

Click here to see box scores from Australia and Nigeria at the FIBA World Cup.

World Cup schedule (all times AEST):

September 22: Australia def Nigeria 86-68
September 23: Australia v Argentina at 8.00pm
September 25:
Australia v Turkey at 8.30pm
September 26: Quarter-Final qualifications
September 28: Quarter-Finals
September 29: Semi-Finals
September 30: Medal Games

Chemist Warehouse Australian Opals:

Bec Allen, Alex Bunton, Liz Cambage, Katie-Rae Ebzery, Cayla George, Tessa Lavey, Tess Madgen, Ezi Magbegor, Jenna O’Hea, Alanna Smith, Steph Talbot and Sami Whitcomb.