Opals win bronze at FIBA World Championship
The Australian Opals have won the Bronze Medal at the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women, dominating the host nation Turkey 74-44 in Istanbul, Turkey this morning.
In one of the most comprehensive performances of the tournament, the Opals raced to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter, silencing the raucous home support and setting the platform for what would be a one-sided affair.
Opals Head Coach Brendan Joyce said this was his proudest moment in basketball.
“This is my proudest moment as a coach,” Joyce said.
“To win bronze against Turkey in Turkey is a brilliant achievement and a credit to the team.
“What can you say about the ladies – just awesome. It was tremendous effort, focus, defence and spirit in this game and throughout the tournament.”
Joyce highlighted the unity among his group as one of the driving factors in the success they have achieved in Turkey and in the Bronze Medal Game.
“We are truly a team,” Joyce said.
“The unity in this team is just amazing and you combine it with the skill package, and how we want to play offensive and defensively, but that result was beyond what I could have expected.
“We talked about wanting to get off to a good start and take the crowd out of it and the players just had the fire in the belly not to let up and make sure that Bronze Medal is hanging around their neck.”
After a brilliant performance against the might of Team USA, Marianna Tolo backed up in a big way against Turkey, producing her best game as an Opal, posting a game-high 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting to go with six rebounds.
Tolo found plenty of support in the form of fellow frontcourt star Cayla Francis, who again provided scoring punch off the bench with 11 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Setting the tone with 21 points against Cuba in the opening game of the tournament, Opals captain Penny Taylor would bookend her fourth World Championship campaign with another memorable display.
The 33-year-old filled the stat sheet like only she can, posting 13 points, five rebounds, a game-high nine assists and two steals.
It was a remarkable start to the game, with the Australians forcing the home support into a stunned silence on their way to the first 17 points of the game – a lead that would never be threatened.
Turkey would miss their first 12 shot attempts, waiting until 2:11 remaining in the opening quarter before scoring their first points.
Momentum began to swing to the hosts early in the second quarter, cutting the margin to single digits before the Opals again stamped their authority on the contest courtesy of a 15-0 run leading into half time.
A 38-19 lead at the main break (Tolo and Francis sharing 19 points for the half) would balloon out to 28 points on the back of a dominant defensive display that would restrict the host nation to one field goal for the quarter.
In a final quarter effort typical of a Brendan Joyce-coached team, the Opals did not let up, pushing the lead beyond 30 points as the likes of young guns Rebecca Allen and Tessa Lavey ensured the final margin would reflect the dominance.
News Source: Basketball Australia
Australia 74-44 Turkey
Q1: 17-4 | Q2: 38-19 | Q3: 54-26 | Q4: 74-44
FIBA World Championship for Women – Results
G1: Australia 90-57 Cuba
G2: Australia 87-54 Korea
G3: Australia 87-45 Belarus
QF: Australia 63-52 Canada
SF: Australia 70-82 Team USA
BMG: Australia 74-44 Turkey
Australian Opals Team – 2014 FIBA Women’s World Championship
Rebecca Allen – Melbourne Boomers
Natalie Burton – Melbourne Boomers
Cayla Francis – Townsville Fire
Laura Hodges – Adelaide Lightning
Rachel Jarry – Melbourne Boomers
Tessa Lavey – Bendigo Spirit
Leilani Mitchell – Sydney Uni Flames
Erin Phillips – Phoenix Mercury (WNBA)
Gabrielle Richards – Bendigo Spirit
Belinda Snell – Bendigo Spirit
Penny Taylor – Phoenix Mercury (WNBA)
Marianna Tolo – Bourges (France)