Opals lose tournament closer to China in close one


The Jayco Australian Opals have ended their tour of China, going down to the host nation in a tight, hard-fought battle over night, 75-70.

Abby Bishop top-scored for the Aussies with 19 points, while Hanna Zavecz also capped off a great tour with 12 points. Elyse Penaluna ended a great week of basketball with a double-double, finishing with 11 points and 12 boards.

The Aussies got off to a great start, tipping off the match with a 9-0 lead. Powerful from the tip off they set the tone for an intense and exciting match, taking a 22-16 lead into the quarter time huddle.

The contest turned into a physical one, as the speed and intensity of the clash kicked up a gear. A 17-16 second term in favour of the Chinese team saw the Opals take a five point lead into the change rooms.

China made more inroads in the third period, shaving another three points off the lead with two points separating the two sides with a quarter to play.

Things didn’t go the Opals way late in the game. A few unlucky calls and a low-scoring final term saw China run over the top of the Aussies to record the five point win.

The Jayco Opals were again solid on the glass, as they had been all tournament, beating the Chinese side 34-25 on the rebound count. Much of this had to do with Abby Bishop, who showed great intensity and leadership throughout the tournament.

The effort and intensity was a great sign for the side with the FIBA Oceania Qualifiers approaching. Penaluna again played with great offensive intelligence, while the desperation of Hanna Zavecz, diving on loose balls and putting her body on the line ignited the team.

The young Opals showed great signs that the talent pool in the Opals program is as strong as ever, as the road ahead is a tough one in the build up to September.  

China 75 (Chen Nan 16, Zhao Shuang 13, Ding Yuan 9) def Jayco Opals 70 (Bishop 19, Zavecz 12, Penaluna 11)

1st quarter: 22-16

2nd quarter: 16-17

3rd quarter: 21-24

4th quarter: 11-18