Opals cruise to second consecutive big win

THE Australian Opals have continued their emphatic start to the 2023 FIBA Women’s Asia Cup, downing the Chinese Taipei 91-45, for their second win in as many games to kick off the tournament.

Following their big win over the Philippines on Monday night, the Aussies backed it up the following night by hosting the Chinese Taipei, who had a very different start to the tournament after falling to Japan by 41 points.

The visitors were always going to be up against it facing Australia in Sydney, and that is how it all ended up panning out as the Opals claimed their second big victory in a row.

The Chinese Taipei could not have started the game any better, with Ling-Chuan Huang draining a three-pointer to kick off proceedings. The Aussies then operated through the star power of Tess Madgen and Lauren Nicholson to take the lead for the first time just minutes later. Although the visiting side tried to match Australia’s output on the offensive end, they still trailed by seven points at the first change.

Australia’s ability to move the ball and get into scoring positions continued to hurt the opposition, and the Opals rotated and worked extremely hard to suffocate the Chinese Taipei on the defensive end. Every made basket appeared to be a serious effort, and the Aussies still took a 17-point lead into the main change.

The game continued to be on the home side’s terms in the third quarter, as the fluidity in Australia’s offensive sets brought the opposition defence undone. Albeit not for lack of trying, the Chinese Taipei simply could not cover everyone as the Aussies drew double teams before dishing to wide-open players all over the halfcourt. It was a familiar tale as the Aussies were able to keep extending their scoreboard advantage heading into the fourth.

Although the game was done and dusted heading into the last quarter, Australia refused to let up, putting the foot down in the final 10 minutes to outscore the opposition 21-5 in a masterful period and wrap up an emphatic 91-45 win.

It was a terrific team performance from the Aussies, who had five players register double-digits in the points column. Leading the way was Keely Froling, who flirted with a double-double on her way to 16 points and nine rebounds, while Madgen (12 points), Maddison Rocci (12 points), Alice Kunek (10 points) and Chantel Hrovat (10 points) all chimed in.

The Aussies also controlled the skies, with Anneli Maley (15 rebounds, seven offensive) and Lauren Scherf (13 rebounds) dominating the glass and allowing their side to have as many scoring opportunities as possible.

The Opals will hit the court again tonight as they take Japan, who are also undefeated in what should be an enthralling contest.

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