Led by former Opals head coach Tom Maher with Opals legend Michele Timms as his assistant, China upset Australia at the ‘Good Luck Beijing’ test event [official site] overnight.
Australia [media guide] stunned the United States by fourteen points on Saturday night but was unable to back up that victory with one against the host nation 24 hours later.
The Opals trailed by sixteen points in the final quarter and fought back valiantly but ran out of time to fall by three points, 67-64. [BOX SCORE]
Olympian Suzy Batkovic top scored for Australia with 13 points while Rohanee Cox and Emma Randall both finished with a dozen.
ADF Opals head coach Jan Stirling warned her players of a let-down after defeating the United States, but Australia was outmuscled by China from the outset and trailed at every break.
“We were buffeted out of our game and we had a very poor first half but we came back and nearly won it,” ADF Opals head coach Jan Stirling said.
“If we had another few minutes we would have got over the line.
“Twenty-four turnovers is certainly not going to cut it in international competition but the important thing for us is how we respond to this.
“A good win against Cuba tomorrow night means we’re still in contention.”
Ten turnovers and an 11-4 foul count put the World Champions on the back foot in the opening stanza and after one quarter Australia trailed the host nation, 21-14.
A barrage of 12 offensive rebounds went mostly unconverted by Australia in the first half until right on the stroke of half time Emma Randall reversed that trend with an offensive rebound and two points that saw the ADF Opals trail by eight, 33-25.
Australia scored four quick points to open the second half and looked set to steamroll the Chinese but the hosts pushed the lead back out to double digits when 2:39 remained in the third period.
Star Chinese centre Nan Chen followed back-to-back blocks with two points as time expired for the quarter and Australia was on the ropes, 52-38.
Down two points at the same point last night, the ADF Opals rolled the USA 26-10 in the final quarter for an emphatic win. Five straight points by China to open the fourth period here stalled Australia’s hopes of an encore performance.
Australia made a late run and challenged until the final buzzer but could not bridge the gap.
China has defeated Australia in three of their last four contests.
Next up for Australia is Cuba (tip off 4:45pm Monday, local), who defeated the ADF Opals 63-57 in overtime last time the two nations met in July 2005.
Quarter by quarter:
1. CHN 21 AUS 16
2. CHN 33 (12) AUS 25 (9)
3. CHN 49 (16) AUS 38 (13)
F: CHN 67 (18) AUS 64 (26)
CHINA 67 – L Miao 17, L Bian 12, N Chen 12 def
AUSTRALIA 64 – S Batkovic 13, R Cox 12, E Randall 12
at Beijing Olympic Basketball Stadium, China.