Opals kick off Asia Cup in commanding fashion

THE Australian Opals could not have started the 2023 FIBA Women’s Asia Cup any better, defeating the Philippines in a big way and storming towards tournament favouritism with a 105-34 victory.

The Opals hosted the Philippines in Sydney on Monday night in the group phase, heavily expected to get the win given they had home court advantage and were ranked third in the world on the official FIBA rankings in comparison to the opposition’s standing of 42nd.

The Opals fired from the opening tip, putting the first points on the board and delivering a relentless performance in the opening quarter. The Aussies were just about unstoppable on the offensive side of things, moving the ball with freedom and passing out of double teams with ease to find the open player either under the hoop or on the perimeter. They also proved suffocating on the defensive end, holding the opposition to just seven points for the period as they took a 23-point lead into the first change.

The Philippines delivered a vastly improved effort in the second quarter, although it was still short of the output produced by the Aussies. The visitors were able to finally get their offence rolling, but it was not enough as the Opals continued to pile on the pain and extend their lead with some of the most experienced international performers leading from the front. Alice Kunek‘s buzzer-beating three-pointer capped off a strong finish to the term for Australia.

The lead was already unassailable coming into the second half, and Australia continued to dominate coming out of the main break. The Opals simply looked a class above of the opposition, operating as they pleased in the final two quarters in a powerful finish to the match. The Philippines were held to just 11 points over the third and fourth quarters, as the Aussies cruised home to a whopping 71-point triumph.

Leading the way for the victors was Lauren Scherf, who chimed in to impact the game in a number of ways as she finished with a balanced statline of 17 points, nine rebounds and five assists on 7/12 shooting from the field. Top scoring for the Aussies was Darcee Garbin, who produced an accurate shooting performance en route to an equal game-high 18 points on 8/10 shooting, proving too much for the opposition to handle.

Despite a tough day at the office, Vanessa De Jesus never gave up for the Philippines, producing over half of her team’s points total to finish the match with 18 point on 7/12 shooting from the field in a gutsy display.

The Opals are set to face off against the Chinese Taipei in their second outing tonight, while the Philippines will be eager to bounce back when they take on Japan this afternoon.

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