AN impressive win from the Australian Opals has been overshadowed by the shock retirement of arguably Australia’s greatest ever basketball player in Lauren Jackson.
Jackson announced that Australia’s 85-52 win over Germany in the 2024 Olympic Qualifiers would be her last appearance at international level, falling just short of a fifth appearance at the world’s biggest sporting event.
The Opals faced off against Germany on Sunday, looking to book a spot at the Olympics after defeating Brazil on its home deck on the first day of the tournament. Australia delivered a dominant performance against the Germans in its second match of the qualifiers, locking in a trip to Paris later this season in search of a gold medal.
Jackson was an immense part of the match, coming in halfway through the first term and having an immediate impact. The star’s seven points in the opening period set the tone for the match, and allowed the Opals to snag control of the match.
Germany’s chances of winning the match were handed a severe blow, with the Sabally sisters both ruled out pre-game, and the team losing a significant amount of star power. Satou missed with a separated shoulder, while her sister Nyara fell to a knee injury.
The Germans missed their first shots from the field, in a sign of what was to come. It was a tough night in terms of efficiency for Germany, shooting just 26 per cent for the match.
The Opals dominated the first half, and although Australia’s defence faltered a bit in the third term (21-21), the Aussies had already secured a big enough lead by that stage to cruise to a comfortable 33-point win.
Remarkably, all 12 of Australia’s players hit the scoreboard, with skipper Tess Madgen, who poured in 15 points. She had 13 in the first half alone on perfect shooting efficiency, showing the capability to take over a game on the offensive end.
Debutant Isobel Borlase was impressive, and looked right at home despite being just 19 years of age, while Bec Allen had an impressive showing with 10 points of her own.