The Australian Defence Force Opals lost to host country Russia in the final of a 4 Nations Tournament in Moscow overnight, 74-51.
It was sweet revenge for the Russians, who fell to a full-strength Australian side in the Gold Medal Match of the 2006 FIBA World Championship for Women last September.
The Opals, playing their sixth game in seven days, kept the score line close until the final quarter before tiring, when Russia blew them away to register the 23 point victory.
Australia (ranked 2nd in the world behind America) claimed victories over Lithuania (ranked 13th) and China (ranked 10th) at the tournament but lost two games to Russia (ranked 3rd).
Townsville Fire forward Rohanee Cox continued her fine form to lead Australia with 10 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists while World Champion Opal Laura Summerton was the Opals best inside player posting 8 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists.
Russia’s Oxana Rahmatulina led all scorers with 18 points.
“We continue to learn from each outing and playing in a final against such a quality team as Russia has provided a number of our players, who have previously had limited international experience, with a fantastic opportunity to recognize what parts of their game they need to work on,” Opals head coach Jan Stirling said.
“The effort and endeavour of the team has been sensational and in true Opals tradition they fought it out with great courage to the end.
“This has been an extremely tedious campaign and the backing up of so many games has certainly highlighted the improvement required in our conditioning.”
The Australian Defence Force Opals started impressively and after five minutes they led 8-2 before Rahmatulina found her range from the perimeter.
The Aussies fought valiantly against their much taller opponents but by half time they trailed by nine points, 45-36.
The physicality of the game caught up with Australia in the second half and although the Opals continued to out-rebound Russia the number of turnovers mounted as fatigue set in.
Exhausted, the Opals just couldn’t find the bottom of the net in the final quarter and Russia came home strongly behind their supportive home crowd.
Sydney Uni Flames point guard Alicia Poto had another well-rounded game and tallied 8 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists in defeat.
The Opals will depart Moscow late tonight (Australian time) bound for the United States where they will play two games against Team USA.
Game 1 will be played in Trenton, New Jersey on September 16 and Game 2 will be played at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut on September19.
Russia 74 - O Rahmatulina 18, S Abrosimova 17, I Ossipova 10 def
Australia 51- R Cox 10, L Summerton 8, A Poto 8
in Final of 4 Nations Tournament
at SK Vidnoje Hall in Vidnoje, Russia