Defence sparks Chemist Warehouse Opals win over China
Despite the double-digit margin of victory, it was a physical Chinese squad that took a lead into the halftime break, 44-41, before a quick start to the second half turned the tide for the Australian’s.
Rebecca Allen broke the game open early in the third quarter, completing a tough and-one finish, before burying a transition triple on the next possession, sparking the home team to a 28-12 third period.
Allen would finish with 23 points on the day to lead the Opals, with guard, Katie Ebzery acknowledging the importance of the New York Liberty star to the team.
“Her offensive mindset, she’s really someone we can go to when we need a bucket. Whether that’s a three or putting it on the floor and attacking the rim, that’s something she is really great at and we have a lot of plays to facilitate that as well,” Ebzery explained.
“She played really well, and she’s just jumped off a plane a couple days ago, so I think she’ll just keep getting better and better which is a positive for us.”
Ebzery added 13 points on the day, while Sara Blicavs chipped in with 11 as a part of a balanced Opals offence.
Ebzery had great success attacking the paint throughout the afternoon, an avenue that appeared to open up through China’s ultra-aggressive defensive tactics.
“That’s something I like to bring to the court. That’s something I’ll keep looking to do and I think a lot more of our girls will look to be on their front foot against the pressure,” Ebzery said.
The Chinese team were frenetic defensively, applying full court pressure for the majority of the game, a tactic that took some adjustment from the Australian’s.
“There were times where we had poise and there were times where we didn’t. Nobody likes pressure so the biggest thing is you can’t dribble the ball too much. When we moved the ball, we were harder to guard,” head coach, Sandy Brondello commented postgame.
Brondello was understandably positive after the game, relishing the opportunity to play competitive basketball as preparations continue to ramp up for the Asia Cup in India next week.
“Those are the kind of games we need; we don’t need to go out there and win by 40 and get complacent, we needed that.
“What happens here doesn’t really matter, win or lose, it doesn’t really matter. It’s more about the preparation stage, we have a new team; we’ve only been together just a few days for this preparation.”
The Opals are set to face China one more time, in front of home fans at AIS Arena on Thursday night. The game will provide Brondello’s squad with one last opportunity to fine tune the game plan before they board a flight to India for the Asia Cup.
“It’s all about chemistry, what combinations work, what we need to work on before we get to India. It’s critical preparation for us, not just for India because we have limited time together, but as we move into the next qualification phase,” Brondello said.
Tip-off between The Chemist Warehouse Opals and China is at 6:30pm (AEST) – The game will be streamed live on Kayo.
Purchase tickets here.
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