China squeeze past Aussies to set up date with US
IN one of the most exciting games of the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup tournament, China has managed to edge out the Australian Opals by two points in the semi-final on Friday night.
It was a highly anticipated matchup as the two sides fought it out for a grand final berth in dramatic fashion. Both teams entered the match with just one loss next to their name and in some red hot form, so there was no shortage of hype.
In a tense start, the Aussies were able to edge ahead thanks to some handy work from veteran Lauren Jackson, who continues to defy age with vintage performances. The Opals made their way to the free throw line quite a bit to close out the period, and headed into quarter-time with a handy four-point advantage.
Quarter number two was one way traffic, as China managed to take over the match and get things on their terms. The Aussies were still able to conjure some decent offence, but they could not stop a China side that was looking to push the ball into the paint a bit more. Australia’s interior defence could not perform at a high enough level, and the Opals trailed by six at the main break.
It was a bit of a grind for both sides in the third quarter, as the host side looked to drag itself back into the contest. Defensively, the two teams lifted in a big way, as the Aussies looked to prevent China from getting the easy looks it got in the second. The Opals found themselves within three points heading into the final period of play, and a red-hot chance of pulling off the comeback.
It was a dramatic finish to the contest as the Opals managed to draw level with just minutes remaining on the clock. Stephanie Talbot played a big role in keeping Australia’s offence moving, with the game tied with less than 10 seconds to play. China’s Siyu Wang cleverly drew a foul with just three seconds remaining, and showed massive levels of composure to nail the free throws and give her side the eventual match-winning lead.
China’s dynamic duo of Han Xu and Yang Liwei proved to be the difference in their side’s win. Han was excellent both offensively and on the boards, producing a double-double of 19 points (8/10 FG) and 11 rebounds, while Yang had an eye-catching 18 points of her own.
Talbot produced a double-double for the Aussies with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Sami Whitcomb top scored with 15 points and Eziyoda Magbegor was her usual impactful self with 12 points, seven rebounds and three steals.
China will now take on the United States in the deciding match, while the Opals will face off against Canada for third place.