The Australian Defence Force Opals will play Russia tomorrow in the Final of a 4 Nations Tournament in Moscow after defeating China overnight 77-70.
Featuring eleven members of its World Championship Silver Medallist team, Russia defeated the Opals by three points yesterday, 74-71.
If Australia, at less than full strength, continues to display the tremendous character it showed against China, an upset victory is possible.
“We’re looking forward to having another crack at Russia,” Opals head coach Jan Stirling said.
“Our loss to Russia was largely of our own making and tonight’s victory demonstrated a sense of belief in the processes and game plans that we applied.
“Tonight’s win has consolidated a phase of necessary learning as we move forward to Beijing.”
Townsville Fire forward Rohanee Cox continued her thrust toward selection for Beijing, top scoring for the Opals against China with 15 points to go with 6 rebounds and 6 assists in 20 minutes on court.
Reigning WNBL MVP Hollie Grima posted 13 points and 4 rebounds while Perth Lynx gun Carly Wilson added 11 points on 3-of-3 shooting from beyond the arc.
China’s Leijie Miao led all scorers with 18 points.
Cox’s ability to penetrate the towering Chinese defence, combined with a ferocious effort from the Aussies that forced China into their lowest shooting percentage of the tournament, saw the Opals in front by twelve points at half time, 45-33.
Hollie Grima backed up her great game against Russia the night before with a solid performance in the third quarter and when Carly Wilson came off the bench to drill three 3-pointers the Aussies looked unbeatable.
But when China’s Australian coach Tom Maher ordered his troops to feed star centre Nan Chen as much ball as possible his team responded, storming back to take a four point lead mid way through the final quarter.
Sydney Uni Flames point guard Alicia Poto then provided great leadership to steer the Australian Defence Force Opals back into the game. She finished with 8 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds.
Behind effective full court pressure and fierce determination under the boards, the Opals broke the Chinese team’s spirit and came from behind to register victory.
The Opals had their best shooting game for the tournament with 54 per cent from the field and 48 per cent from the 3-point line.
The Opals will play Russia in Moscow tomorrow morning Australian time at 12:30am (6.30pm Wednesday local time).
The tournament is being played at the SK Vidnoje Hall in Vidnoje, Russia, the home court of Lauren Jackson’s 2007 Russian National Champion club, Spartak Moscow.
AUSTRALIA 77 - R Cox 15, H Grima 13, C Wilson 11, A Poto 8 def
CHINA 70 - L Miao 18, N Chen 14, S Chen 12
at SK Vidnoje Hall in Vidnoje, Russia