Jayco Opals return to form with big win over Czech Republic
The Jayco Opals have exorcised the demons of 2010 and defeated the Czech Republic, the team that eliminated them from the last FIBA World Championship, on the same court as that fateful quarter-final game, running away with the 67-48 win.
The Jayco Opals got off to an impressive start, brimming with energy and bringing a physical brand of basketball from the opening tip. Defense was a key for the team with great pressure on the perimeter. The Czechs managed to stay in touch, and after a couple of costly turnovers from the Aussies snuck in front going into quarter time, 15-14.
The second term went basket for basket, as the highly anticipated match-up was living up to expectation. With the pressure mounting, the Jayco Opals sent the ball inside to Jackson and Batkovic, who were having a dramatic impact in the paint, while also getting ample support right across the bench, including the likes of Jenni Screen and Sam Richards. The Aussies took a 3-point lead into the half-time break.
The Jayco Opals increased the intensity another notch in the third, frustrating the home side to some tough shots, their field goal percentage falling to 30 per cent for the term.
At the other end of the floor, the Aussies showed great poise, and executed well to extend their lead to 11 points going into the final term, 46-35.
With the home side looking to get back into the contest, the Jayco Opals closed the door on any chance of a come back, taking the lead out to 20 points at stages in the fourth.
The game seemingly beyond doubt, both coaches continued to rotate through all 12 players, with the Aussie bench securing the lead and bringing home a big confidence-boosting win for the Jayco Opals.
“The team responded well as a group, it was the defensive intensity that put us in a dominating position during this match,” said head coach Carrie Graf.
“The intensity at the start was from the memory of 2010,” said Jayco Opals star Jenna O’Hea. “This set the tone for the rest of the game. It was great to beat them by that margin on that court,” she said.
The team departs Czech Republic tomorrow and will head to Italy for a two-match series with Russia.
Australian Jayco Opals 67 (Jackson 14, Batkovic 12) defeated Czech Republic 48 (Elhotova 12)