Olympics; Australian Opals beat Brazil in first Olympic qualifier

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Two big blocks within the closing seconds and a clutch three-pointer from veteran Cayla George helped the Australian Opals overcame what might be their greatest problem on the trail to the Paris Olympics, taking down Brazil in Brazil within the first of three essential qualifiers.

Defying a raucous residence crowd and a spirited second-half comeback from the Brazilians, ranked eighth on the planet, George and Ezi Magbegor made the essential late defensive performs to safe the 60-55 win at Enviornment Guilherme Paraense.

Magbegor and Bec Allen led the best way for the Opals on the scoreboard with 18 and 14 factors respectively, with Magbegor practically good from the sphere.

Nevertheless it was George, who nailed her first three-pointer of the sport with 1:02 on the clock to interrupt a scoring impasse and provides the Opals a three-point lead.

Then because the clock ticked down, first George then Magbegor stopped Brazilian scoring efforts to safe the victory.

“We discovered a method to win,” Magbegor stated.

“When offence dries up we now have to go to our defence and I feel that’s what gained us the sport.”

Legendary Lauren Jackson, trying to make a fifth Olympics aged 42 after her beautiful profession revival, had 5 rebounds and two factors in her eight minutes on court docket.

The Opals, ranked No.3 on the planet, led by as a lot as 14 factors within the first half, however the residence workforce poured on the stress within the second half, surging again into the sport and shutting the hole to only two factors on the finish of the third quarter, then drawing degree with the opening rating of the fourth.

Scoring was at a minimal because the stress rose and the Brazilians took a three-point lead with six minutes to go earlier than the Opals hit again, lastly regaining the lead by George.

The Opals travelled to Brazil with an understrength squad minus 2022 World Cup bronze medallists Steph Talbot, Kristy Wallace and Darcee Garbin.

That bronze medal win on the residence World Cup got here after a disastrous 2021 Tokyo Olympics the place they completed eighth, placing the stress on coach Sandy Brondello to get her workforce to bounce again in Paris.

The Australians will subsequent face Germany, ranked twenty fifth on the planet, and Serbia, who’re tenth, needing to win each video games within the essential Olympic qualifying event.

The Opals should end within the high three of their four-nation pool to qualify for the Paris Video games.

REMAINING OLYMPIC QUALIFIERS

Sunday, February 11, Opals v Germany from 7am (AEDT)

Monday, February 12, Opals v Serbia from 7am (AEDT)