After seeing Canada bring an end to their seven-game winning streak just 24 hours prior, the Jayco Opals recovered from a near double-digit deficit in the third quarter to claim the three-point win over the South American powerhouse.
The win marked the return to form of Jayco Opals veteran star Belinda Snell, who after several quiet games, found her shooting touch when the team needed it most. Trailing 45-39 midway through the third quarter, Snell propel the team to an 11-3 run to close the quarter to lead 50-48, scoring 8 of her 17 points (and 5 rebounds) in the run.
In the final quarter Liz Cambage continued the momentum, scoring the team’s first 6 points of the final period on her way to an impressive 11 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks. To their credit, the Brazilians kept coming, but could not regain the lead as Snell iced the game with two critical free throws in the final 12 seconds.
Rachel Jarry rewarded Jayco Opals Head Coach Brendan Joyce’s decision to place her in the starting five, posting 12 points and 5 rebounds, while Laura Hodges (8 points) and Leilani Mitchell (5 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists) also impressed.
Joyce said it was pleasing to see how the team reacted after the loss to Canada and showed grit as they looked down the barrel of consecutive defeats.
“Firstly, I was very pleased with how we came started after going down to Canada yesterday,” Joyce said.
“The players were ready from the first tip and played with an intensity that was very pleasing – that set the tone for a really impressive first quarter.
“To their credit Brazil came back into it and really made it tough for us, but when we need it most we saw Belinda Snell really step up and swing the momentum back in our favour late in that third quarter.
“We closed the game out strongly and really took care of the ball in the final three or four minutes, which is very pleasing as you can’t afford to turn the ball over against high-quality international opposition.”
It was a much improved intensity from the Jayco Opals to open the game, racing to a 9-2 as Jarry set the offensive tone in the starting five.
Looking for more contributors on the offensive end, Joyce was pleased to see the likes of Jarry, Cambage, Mitchell, Hodges and Snell hitting the scoresheet as the Jayco Opals ended the first quarter with a commanding 28-15 advantage.
It went from feast to famine for the Jayco Opals in the second quarter, with points coming at a premium early on. Neither team could find the basket for the first two and a half minutes before the Brazilians built a 10-0, cutting the Australian lead to as few as two points before half time.
Brazil restricted the Jayco Opals to just five points in the second quarter and midway through the third quarter had held the London bronze medallists to just 11 points in 15 minutes of basketball.
This coincided with the Brazilians taking a 45-39 lead before the Snell-inspired 11-3 rally saw the Jayco Opals take back the momentum heading into the final quarter – and ultimately the game.
Next up for Jayco Opals at the TBF Zafer Cup is a clash with Turkey TONIGHT at 2:00am AEST – watch LIVE online at the Turkish Basketball Federation (TBF) website: http://bit.ly/1wgqhNa.
Jayco Australia Opals 66-63 Brazil
Stats Leaders: Snell 17pts, 5rebs; Jarry 12pts, 5rebs; Cambage 11pts, 10rebs, 3asts, 3blks; Hodges 8pts; Tolo 6pts; Mitchell 5pts, 4rebs, 3asts; Burton 3pts, 6rebs; Allen 2pts, 5rebs; Lavey 2pts, 3asts
Jayco Australian Opals Team – Tour of Europe
Rebecca Allen – Melbourne Boomers
Natalie Burton – Melbourne Boomers
Elizabeth Cambage – Dandenong Rangers
Laura Hodges – Adelaide Lightning
Natalie Hurst - Canberra Capitals/Canik BLD (Turkey)
Rachel Jarry – Melbourne Boomers
Tessa Lavey – Bendigo Spirit
Tess Madgen – Melbourne Boomers
Leilani Mitchell – Sydney Uni Flames
Gabrielle Richards – Bendigo Spirit
Belinda Snell – Bendigo Spirit
Marianna Tolo – Bourges (France)
Jayco Opals Tour of Europe Schedule
TBF Zafer Cup
Jayco Australian Opals v Turkey
Monday 25 August @ Istanbul, Turkey 2:00am (All times AEST)
Online: LIVE on NTVSport
For all the latest news and updates on the Jayco Opals road to the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women be sure to visit the BA website at www.basketball.net.au.