Chemist Warehouse Opals produce emphatic response to advance to final four
Written by Kane Pitman.
Bec Allen would lead all scorers for the Opals with 15 points, while Ezi Magbegor had 13, Cayla George 12, Steph Talbot 11, and Sara Blicavs 10.
It was a determined Opals outfit that hit the floor against Taipei, with the result in this one never in doubt. Allen and Magbegor asserted their dominance early, with both players able to score five quick points as the lead ballooned to 17 after one period.
“I just thought we had more sense of urgency; we came out and only allowed them nine points in the first quarter. We are disappointed with the result last night but sometimes, maybe in hindsight it is good for us to tidy up a few areas,” head coach Sandy Brondello said postgame.
The second quarter produced much of the same, with the New York Liberty star, Allen, continuing to pile on the pain, both from the outside and in transition, as the Australians continued to put the foot down.
“She’s our shooter, we are at our best when she is being aggressive. I thought that was one really big positive, she got going again. We are going to need that against Japan,” Brondello said of Allen.
With the offence stagnating at times against China the day before, Brondello’s squad found their offensive rhythm in the quarter-final, with ball and people movement allowing them to make the extra pass and find open shooters for high percentage shots.
Australia would finish with an impressive 30 assists from 38 made baskets, with Jenna O’Hea and Nicole Seekamp leading the way with five dimes each.
Seekamp was particularly influential on the night, with the guard reeling in a team high ten rebounds, often times turning those boards into transition opportunities for the Opals.
“For me, when I get in, I just try to look after what I can control and getting after the rebounds is an effort thing so once I can do that it allows me to push the ball up the floor and get my team my open,” Seekamp said.
The game was the Opals fourth straight day on court, with two more games to come if they progress through to Sunday’s final. Seekamp acknowledged that fatigue is a factor, but believes the team is finding ways to remain fresh during the gruelling schedule.
“I think we are feeling pretty good for the most part, obviously there is a little bit of fatigue setting in because it was our fourth game in a row tonight, plus we played three games against China before we got here.
“This is where we need to be smart and look after our bodies outside of the game but also make sure our decision making is on point during the game so that we don’t have to exert ourselves more than necessary,” the Adelaide Lightning guard responded.
While the win was a pleasant return to form, the challenge in front of the Opals is real, with a talented Japan squad in the way of a potential spot in the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup final.
Japan defeated the Opals in the 2017 Asia Cup final, 74-73, though Brondello believes that loss will mean little in the way of motivation for the current group of women wearing the green and gold.
“The teams are totally different, I think we had two from Asia Cup, we are a different team now, but we have a lot of respect for them.
“This [Japan] team plays a little different from what we are used to, but hopefully we can get ready for them. It’s going to be a great challenge for us tomorrow.”
The semi-final between the Chemist Warehouse Opals and Japan tips off at 10:15pm (AEST) on Saturday night – Watch live on Fox Sports channel 507 or stream on Kayo.
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