Written by Kane Pitman.
It was an impressive four quarter performance for the Opals, who were able to shelve the disappointment from the loss to Japan 24 hours ago to dominate the Korean team from opening tip.
“I think the disappointment of the game last night, if that doesn’t motivate us, what will?” Darcee Garbin said postgame.
“Everyone came out with a point to prove tonight and I’m glad that we did show everyone that we were disappointed. I think that was a big statement win.”
Bec Allen’s world class offensive repertoire was on full display on Sunday night, with the Opals star pouring in 20 points in the bronze medal game. Allen finished 7-for-10 from the floor and an absolutely sizzling 4-for-6 from the outside. She also added seven rebounds, three steals, two assists and two blocks in the brilliant display.
While Allen was the focal point, the Opals incredibly deep roster was utilised to its full capacity against Korea, with contributions coming right down the roster.
Garbin was exceptional with 13 points and five rebounds, Ezi Magbegor and Katie Ebzery added 11 points, while Cayla George added ten points, five rebounds and four assists.
Defensively, the intent was clear early, as Korea were held to a miserly 19 points through the first two quarters.
“We spoke about backing each other on defence so I think our trust levels were a lot higher tonight and you play a lot better when your teammates are behind you talking to you. I think everyone was a lot more comfortable tonight because we did increase that communication on defence,” Garbin revealed.
The game was controlled by the Australians in all the key statistical categories, with Jenna O’Hea’s words from the night before appearing to spark the refocus for Sandy Brondello’s squad.
O’Hea lamented the Opals lack of post presence against Japan on Saturday night, hinting that they would attempt to correct that aspect of their game and utilise the significant size advantage they have over their opponents to the fullest.
The Opals led the rebounding count 43-29, reeling in 14 offensive rebounds in the process and converting them into an 23-6 edge in second chance points.
Committing just 11 turnovers for the game, the Opals offence executed their most complete game of the tournament, dishing out a remarkable 34 assists on 37 made baskets.
It was a typically unselfish game from the Australians, who’s all-inclusive offensive scheme found an extra gear. Steph Talbot would dish out a team-high eight assists on the night, with 11 of the 12 players on the squad recording at least one dime.
The Opals have now reached the podium in consecutive FIBA Women’s Asia Cup tournaments, following up from their silver medal in 2017.
In what is set up to be a jam-packed schedule of national team basketball in the lead-up to the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo, the Opals attention will now turn to the pre-qualifying tournament, to be held from November 14-17.
“[The Asia Cup] provided a lot of learning heading into November. While it is good to come away with a medal it’s not the gold that we wanted so there is a lot of things we can take from this heading into November,” Garbin admitted.
“Again, we won’t have a lot of time to prepare but we can look at film and people heading into WNBL preseason can work on things they need to individually work on, and we are going to get better as a team.”
The draw was released for the tournament over the weekend, with Australia joining Japan, India and Chinese Taipei in Group B. Further details will follow in the coming weeks.