Opals take care of inexperienced Venezuela at Rio test event

Share this article

The Jayco Australian Opals have won their second game in as many nights at the test event in Brazil, defeating an inexperienced and undersized Venezuela side, 104-24.

An impressive start by the opposition saw them jump out to an early four-point lead before the game was tied 8-8 midway through the first quarter.

From there, Australia asserted their dominance, finishing the term on a 19-0 run which extended to a 45-3 run by half-time.

Once again, coach Brendan Joyce was able to tinker with his line-ups and give every player (aside from the injured Tessa Lavey) court time with everybody playing at least 12 minutes and no player exceeding 24 minutes.

“Venezuela are a pretty young team and not very big,” said Joyce.

“But we were down 8-4 in the first three minutes. We weren’t focused so I made a couple of subs and from there we improved. They can be tough games to play sometimes as you can switch off and go up and down but I thought we did well in playing the right way both offensively and defensively.”

On the slow start, Joyce mainly blamed complacency.

“We saw that Brazil had beaten them by 71 points the night before but they were making shots at the beginning and we weren’t. The focus did improve though and even the players I subbed out came back and played better. I will always give every player an opportunity as long as they do not take the game for granted.”

Both Cayla Francis (15 points, 14 rebounds) and Nat Burton (15 and 13) recorded double-doubles while Abby Bishop (13 and 8) and Suzy Batkovic (nine and 10) fell just short.

Steph Talbot (11 points, six rebounds, three blocks), Rachel Jarry (11 points) and Katie-Rae Ebzery (10 points) made it six Opals that scored in double-figures while Erin Phillips (four points, seven assists) and Leilani Mitchell (five points, seven assists, three steals) once again ran the show from the point guard position.

Australia’s final game of the test event comes tomorrow against the host nation Brazil, in what is expected to be a much tighter game.

“Brazil will be a whole different kettle of fish. It’s going to be a tough game but if we play as well as we have, we should win. The focus is always on improving but we are still coaching to win.”