CHEMIST WAREHOUSE AUSTRALIAN OPALS BEGIN FIBA WORLD CUP WARM-UP GAMES

CHEMIST WAREHOUSE AUSTRALIAN OPALS BEGIN FIBA WORLD CUP WARM-UP GAMES

The Chemist Warehouse Australian Opals have headed to France to begin their preparations for the FIBA Women's World Cup, playing a series of warm-up games in Europe before the tournament tips off in Spain on September 22.

The Opals are set to play six games against fellow World Cup teams including a clash with Turkey who they will meet in the group stage before the official tournament gets underway.

They began with a loss against France on Saturday night before responding to defeat Latvia on Sunday, playing without Liz Cambage or Sami Whitcomb who has come into the team to replace the injured Leilani Mitchell.

Against France, the Opals were unable to recover from a 15-32 opening term as the home team shot 14-21 (67%) from the field, going on to win 85-77.

Trailing by 19 at three-quarter time, Australia made a late charge on the back of a 21-4 run to end the game with Bec Allen (23 points, eight rebounds) and Cayla George (18 points on 7-11 shooting) starring.

Every available player hit the court, including Alex Bunton who recorded her first minutes in an Opals uniform, Katie Ebzery who tallied seven assists and Steph Talbot (11 points) and Lauren Mansfield (ten points) who each recorded double-digits off the bench.

The following day, the Opals got off on the right foot with a six-point edge at quarter-time but Latvia responded to lead by a point at the final change.

Scores were then tied with just over six minutes remaining but the Aussies put together a 7-1 run courtesy of George (nine points, 11 boards), Tess Madgen (six points, three assists) and Bunton.

Allen (11 points) then hit a clutch three-pointer down the stretch, followed by a jumper from Ebzery (11 points, four assists) before Bunton, who finished with a dominant 15 points and 14 rebounds off the bench, sealed a 77-70 victory from the free-throw line.

Ezi Magbegor finished with an efficient eight points on 4-4 shooting in a starting role while fellow youngster, Alanna Smith, collected seven points and five rebounds in 11 minutes.

The Opals now head to Turkey for another game mid-week before arriving in Spain for three final warm-up games against China, Spain and USA.

Placed into Group B, the Chemist Warehouse Australian Opals (ranked fourth in the world) will take on Nigeria (ranked 34th), Argentina (ranked 15th) and Turkey (ranked 7th) in the pool stage of the FIBA Women's World Cup.

If they finish on top of Group B, Australia will automatically advance to the Quarter-Finals but a second or third-placed finish will see them placed into a Quarter-Final qualification game while the team that finishes fourth in the group will be knocked out.

FOX SPORTS Australia announced a landmark broadcast deal last year that included exclusive rights to the FIBA Women’s World Cup which means every game of the Chemist Warehouse Opals tournament will be shown live. See the schedule below.

The Chemist Warehouse Australian Opals Schedule for the FIBA Women’s World Cup (all times AEST):

September 22: Australia vs. Nigeria at 8.30pm
September 23: Australia vs. Argentina at 8.00pm
September 25: Australia vs. Turkey at 8.30pm
September 26: Quarter-Final Qualifications
September 28: Quarter-Finals
September 29: Semi-Finals
September 30: Medal Games