DUNEDIN (FIBA Oceania Championship for Women) -
Leading into this series, New Zealand has expressed the view that Australia were more vulnerable in this series than at any other time in recent history, due to the decision by Opals coach to rest key players.
The initial encounter on the first day of the championships, showed the Tall Ferns that the talent pool of female Australian basketballers players runs very deep.
On that occasion the final scoreline was 78 to 46 in favour of Australia and the Opals looked impregnable.
In the rematch for the gold medal, it was almost as if the Tall Ferns had shrugged aside the first night result.
They played with purpose, confidence and commitment and for a long period gave the Opals and their coach a scare.
The proof of this was the ability of the Tall Ferns to rebound from a 20 point deficit in the second period to get the game back to 12 points at one stage.
When coach Sterling starts to provide unsolicited advice to the referees about how the game might be called, you can tell she is concerned, and for this the Tall Ferns deserve credit and recognition.
The Australian Opals are currently FIBA’s Women’s Champions and have not to date been defeated in Oceania Competition.
Nor should they, rated # 2 overall across all women’s categories in the 213 member strong FIBA family, the Australians drew on their depth and experience to answer the challenge placed before them by the Tall Ferns.
Eleven of the 12 Opals found the way to the hoop in the Opals victory and at almost 63% their free throw shooting was far more deadly than the Tall Ferns (47%).
From the field the Opals had a 53% success rate while Tall Ferns shot a less impressive 27%.
You can probably give some credit to the rebounding effort of the Australians, they allowed New Zealand only 13 offensive rebounds and grabbed in defence, 38 boards.
At the other end of the court, the Australians grabbed 18 offensive rebounds while New Zealand only registered 19 defensive boards.
Not surprisingly, the Australians scored 24 second chance points to the Kiwis 3.
As suggested in an earlier article the Tall Ferns did not have the services of Noni Whatemate and Jody Tini for tonight’s clash (both withheld due to injury concerns) and this definitely impacted on the final scoreline, but the underlying message from tonight’s clash is that the Opals are out to win every game they play – for them winning is contagious and they like the feeling.
Australian Opals 87 def New Zealand Tall Ferns 46
Score by quarters:
Australia 22 (22), 15 (37), 28 (65), 22 (87)
New Zealand 13 (13), 9 (22), 18 (40), 6 (46)
Australia: Porter 14, Camino 12, Wilson 11.
New Zealand: Marino 10, Pardon 8