The Chemist Warehouse Australian Opals have taken the next step towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, successfully qualifying for the FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament in February next year.
Their qualification came after an extremely strong performance on Saturday night defeating India by an impressive 85 points.
It was an unbelievable effort across the court with five Opals finishing with double figures on the scoreboard.
The first quarter saw the Opals keep India to just three points, as Bec Allen dominated the scoreboard shooting multiple threes in the first quarter and going on to finish the game with 20 points.
At half time the Opals were leading by 46 points and continued their streak in the second half, pushing their lead out to 71 points at the third break.
When the final siren sounded the scores sat at 114 to 29, leaving the Australians 85-point victors and securing a spot at the FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament in February.
The Opals then faced Japan in the final game of the tournament on Sunday night.
The Australians were eager to get a win over Japan having lost to them at the FIBA Asia Cup in both 2017 and earlier this year, but it wasn’t meant to be, going down by 13 points.
Japan kept the lead for the duration of the game
The Opals came to within four points of Japan in the final term, before the winning side pushed their lead out again, the final score sitting at 82 to 69.
Despite the disappointing loss, the Opals’ win against India was enough to achieve inclusion in the next stage of qualifiers.
Ezi Magbegor, Opals centre, said the tournament gave the team the opportunity to come together, test different combinations and learn each other’s style.
“We don’t have a lot of time together throughout the year, so it’s been great,” said Magbegor.
“We’ll go away from this tournament better heading into 2020 and knowing that we have qualified for the next phase is exciting.”
The Opals will now look to the FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament that will be held from February 6 – 9, 2020.
There will be 16 women’s teams competing at the tournament, which will consist of two from Africa, four from Americas, four from Asia and six from Europe and will be split into four groups of four.
The Opals will need to finish in the top three of their pool of four to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
FIBA will announce the draw for the FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament on the 27th of November at FIBA Headquarters.
Players from the WNBL that competed in the FIBA Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament, including Kalani Purcell, Stella Beck, Toni Farnworth, Penina Davidson and Micaela Cocks who represented New Zealand and Kia Nurse and Bridget Carleton who represented Canada, will return to their home states from Monday 18 November to prepare for WNBL Round 6 fixturing.
For all updates on the Chemist Warehouse Australian Opals follow their official Instagram page @aus_opals.
GAME 2 IND V AUS
Ezi Magbegor – 16 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 4 blocks
Bec Allen – 20 points, 7 rebounds
Jenna O’Hea – 13 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists
GAME 3 JAP V AUS
Liz Cambage – 17 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks
Jenna O’Hea – 14 points, 4 rebounds, 7 assists
Kate Ebrezy – 10 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists