Emerging Opals beat Angola in 4-nations Tourney
The Emerging Opals have started the Four Nations Pre-Olympic Tournament in Suzhou, China with an impressive 20 point (66-46) win over African Olympic Qualifiers Angola.
It was always going to be a tough match up facing an athletic and physical Angolan outfit, and a huge test for the younger emerging opals who were yet to taste competition at the senior international level. To everyone's credit, the team gelled well together and the chemistry was extremely positive for a group that had little to no preparation.
The emerging Opals got off to a blistering start in the first quarter, and were leading 23-10 at the end. Although Angola shot an impressive 55 per cent from the field, the size of Cayla Francis and Carley Mijovic bothered Angola and the aussies were able to capitalise on the scoreboard. Francis led all scorers with 9 points with Carley Mijovic chipping in a handy 4 points at the break.
The second quarter saw Angola come out firing, in particular from the three point line with shooting at 57.1 per cent at the break. Francis again proved why she narrowly missed out on the Opals 2012 campaign finishing the half with 11 points and 5 rebounds. Stephanie Cumming stepped up in the second quarter scoring 7 points, and Katie-Rae Ebzery showed some relentless persistence with pulling down 7 rebounds to lead all players. Halftime score saw the emerging opals lead 38-25.
Third quarter saw the players come out sluggish as Angola began to convert on some sloppy turnovers and chip away at the margin halfway through the quarter. Some sharp shooting by Casey Samuels and Tess Madgen allowed the group to pull away again and end the quarter with a 15 point margin. At the break, the emerging opals had pulled away further to lead 50-35.
In the last quarter, coach Cheryl Chambers rested the veteran players and allowed the younger emerging opals to shine. The Gems/AIS combination of Mikhaela Donnelly, Casey Samuels, Stephanie Talbot, Carley Mijovic and Darcee Garbin proved to be too strong for the Angolans, and the final buzzer saw the emerging opals finish with the W.
Players and Staff were all pleased with the performance of the group, and thanks to Stephanie "Tubby" Talbot for the most memorable play of the game. Poor Tubby was inbounding the basketball from the sideline and had a brain explosion and decided to dribble the ball from out of bounds on to the court without passing. Everyone was so confused and in fits of laughter and poor Tubby will never live that play down.
The Emerging Opals will next be tested by our Oceania rivals New Zealand who will be looking to gain some momentum at the tournament as they prepare to qualify for an Olympic spot in 2012. New Zealand only narrowly lost to China and have shown that they will be a tough contender in the tournament
Emerging Opals 66 (C. Samuels 13pts, C. Francis 13pts &; 10rebs, C. Mijovic 9pts & 9rebs, S. Cumming 9) defeated Angola 46 (F. Jorge 13, N. Manuel 9, N. Filipe 6)