The Australia v Japan three-game series is tied after Japan sealed a one-point win in game two on Sunday afternoon, 56-55.
The Opals came out firing and looked to control the game as they jumped to a 14-6 quarter time lead, however, Japan slowly but surely fought back into contention over the course of the second and third terms.
Pinching a two-point lead at three-quarter time, Japan’s lifted intensity kept Australia on their toes and the two battled it out in a thrilling final term. Inaccuracy on the scoreboard from both teams kept each other within reach of victory.
Sara Blicavs was a quick starter for the Opals, hitting 10 of her 16 points within the first six minutes of the game. Notching up a double-double, Blicavs was also a key feature of Australia’s defensive plan, achieving a game-high of 12 rebounds.
“She’s really versatile, she can play inside, outside and she can defend, and now she’s becoming really poised, there’s a lot to like about her game,” Opals’ coach Cheryl Chambers said post-game.
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Co-captains, Cayla George and Tess Madgen were equally as strong in defence as they both racked up 10 rebounds each.
A third starting tall for the Opals, Darcee Garbin’s 23-minute game time was put to good use, with 11 points, five rebounds and three assists contributed. Meanwhile, up and comer Shyla Heal made her presence known, knocking down two clutch three-pointers in the final minute of the third, to level the scores.
With the friendly series tied, Chambers knows that there will be some changes made heading into game three.
“We’ll probably have to make some tweaks as they tried to exploit some of the mismatches a little bit more, so we’ll look to be more clever with that,” Chambers said post-match.
The decider will take place on Tuesday at 7:30pm AEST as the series heads to the Newcastle Entertainment Centre. Broadcast live locally via ESPN, Fox Sports, Kayo and FIBA Youtube, Sky NZ and Fetch for international fans.