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Basketball - 20. July 2007.

AUS/TPE - Opals win William Jones Cup in Asia

Playing in front of a parochial and raucous home crowd, the Opals had to withstand a lightning start by the locals, rebounding from being down 12-2 after four minutes to grind out an impressive win.

Led by veteran guard Chia-Hung Chien and lethal perimeter bomber Hui-Mei Lin, the home team skipped out to an early lead, riding the emotion of the crowd in search of a tournament boilover.

But a time-out and some adjustment by the Australians saw the visitors trail by just two points at the first change and surge ahead on the back of relentless team defence from there.

Reigning defencejobs WNBL MVP Hollie Grima added to her trophy cabinet by being named the tournament’s most valuable player and was again to the fore in this encounter with her agility inside.

The Opals quickly gained control of the game in the second quarter, with Victorian Sam Richards (5 assists, 2 steals) producing her best game of the tour to spark the Australian revival and lead her team to a 35-27 lead at the change.

As has been the story all week, the third quarter belonged to the Opals, with Richards continuing to torment the Taipei defence with dribble penetration and Victoria’s Carly Wilson and Western Australia’s Rohanee Cox chipping in with offensive cameos.

Wilson found her range from beyond the arc and with Cox running the floor and creating in the open court, the Opals offence clicked into gear and complimented the swarming defence.

The Australians have been able to lock teams down to single digit offensive output in quarters all week and the second half continued that trend, with the home team adding just 19 points after the long break.

Opals mentor Jan Stirling paid tribute to the home team and also the efforts of her group in winning six games in just seven days.

"We knew coming in Chinese Taipei had veteran leaders and offensive punch and it was the sort of battle we expected," she said.

"Credit to our group, to play six games and continue to stay with the process and play at the level we have is a terrific achievement and we are certainly happy to claim the William Jones Cup for our nation.

The Opals now travel to China for a three game series, before flying back into Sydney on July 25.

AUSTRALIA 74 – Brogan 13pts, 8 rebs; Randall 10pts, 7 rebs, Cox 10pts, 9 rebs
CHINESE TAIPEI 44 – Chien 8, Cheng 8

Bill Baxter

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