Australia falls in valiant two-point thriller against China

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History repeated itself, with China knocking the Seven Consulting Opals out of the gold medal game on home soil, as they did in 1994

The second Semi-Final at the Sydney SuperDome saw a repeat of China’s last visit to Australia in a World Cup, denying the host nation 59-61 in front of 11,916 vocal fans.

Han Xu tore open the game with 19 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots.

A firing second half from Captain Liwei Yang of 18 points and four rebounds was clutch basketball at its finest.

Samantha Whitcomb kept the Australians in touch through the contest with 15 points, three assists and two steals, whilst Steph Talbot contributed a double double of 12 points and 10 rebounds.

A deafening crowd evenly split in support set the stage for the Semi-Final showdown.

Australia struggled under pressure missing shots early and faltering on offensive boards. The size of Xu exploited the typically strong Australian defence with height mismatches in the paint.

Whitcomb found herself in foul trouble, her fifth foul sending Yao to the free throw in the last ten seconds line to take the two points China needed to win the game.

Head Coach Wei Zheng was grateful for the crowd support and proud of her team’s efforts.

“The environment was like we were playing as the home team,” said Zheng.

“They’ve supported us the whole tournament and given us energy.”

“We were missing a key player today, but our other players tried their best and showed their full efforts. They showed their best performance in this game. Our coaches worked really well today, which helped us to win.”

Yang said there were lessons her side would take from their Group Phase game against Team USA.

“The first game (Team USA) provided a lot of pressure on defence,” said Yang.

“Tomorrow we will need to handle the pressure better. Tomorrow, we need to focus on team basketball, and in the first game, we had players who did not play their best.”

Seven Consulting Opals’ Head Coach Sandy Brondello noted how challenging it will be for the team to back up for the bronze medal game tomorrow.

“We’re all disappointed, but we don’t want to go home empty-handed,” said Brondello.

“We have to focus on just Canada. It’s easier said than done. Everyone wants to win and be successful. It hurts when you don’t accomplish that goal, but we can still get on the podium. We need to rest and recover for tomorrow.”

“Tonight, they (Canada) didn’t play their (top) players that much and we did, we’ll have to rely on the bench and dig deep tomorrow,” Brondello added. “Sometimes it doesn’t go the way you want, and that’s sport. We have to be ready; they are a well-coached team, and they have a lot of good players.”


1st quarter 17 13
2nd quarter 30 36
3rd quarter 44 47
Full time 59 61



Player Pts Reb Ast Stl
Samantha WHITCOMB 15 2 3 2
Steph TALBOT 12 10 3 3
Ezi MAGBEGOR 12 6 2 3



Player Pts Reb Ast Stl
Xu HAN 19 11 0 2
Liwei YANG 18 3 4 2
Siyu WANG 14 3 2 1