A Penny Taylor-inspired comeback fell agonisingly short as the Jayco Australian Opals went down to China in a thriller 76-70 in the final game of their four-nation tournament in Paris overnight.

Trailing by as many as 15 points midway through the third quarter, the Jayco Opals were down 72-61 with 3:09 on the clock before Taylor (eight of her 17 points in the final quarter) inspired an 11-3 run to cut the margin to just two points inside the last minute.

A spectacular four-point play from Erin Phillips had the scores at 72-70 with 27 seconds remaining, but China were able to seal the win from the free throw line to ensure a six-point final margin.

It was a vintage display from Taylor, who finished with a team-high 17 points to go with four rebounds, three assists and four steals in 32 minutes – her best performance of the Paris tournament.

Jayco Opals Head Coach Brendan Joyce commended the late fight back, but believes more could have been done earlier in the game to halt the Chinese momentum.

“It’s a true reflection of this team that even down 11 points with a little over three minutes to go they believed the game was there for the taking,” Joyce said.

“We were able to get some stops then go up the other end of the court where Penny and Erin showed their quality and give the team just reward for the defensive efforts.

“In the end we made it too difficult for ourselves in the third quarter and the first half of the final quarter, not being able to convert our opportunities and consistently get stops.”

After three challenging games in as many days, Joyce believes his team will come away from their time in Paris battle-hardened and ready for what awaits in Turkey.

“This tournament was exactly the type of high quality hit out we were after this close to the World Championships,” Joyce said.

“We played three powerhouse teams of women’s basketball in three days, which provided a great opportunity for all of the players to test themselves in and assimilate to a similar schedule to what awaits us in Turkey.”

Coming off 14 points and four rebounds in the win over France, Phillips was again a prime mover for the Jayco Opals, posting nine points, four assists and three steals as the starting point guard.

Fellow starters Rachel Jarry (10 points, five rebounds and three assists) and Marianna Tolo (seven points, four rebounds and three assists) were good early, while Natalie Burton posted six points and five rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench.

China raced out of the blocks, establishing a 13-2 lead before the Jayco Opals could settle, holding a double-digit advantage at the end of the first quarter on the back of 11-of-13 shooting from the field.

The hot hands of the Chinese shooters quickly cooled off in the second quarter as the Australians lifted their defensive intensity, restricting the Asian powerhouse to 4-of-13 shooting as the lead was cut to 44-38 at half time.

It was all China after the restart, going on a 14-5 run to establish the biggest lead of the game at 15 points midway through the third quarter. The Jayco Opals chipped away at the lead, but it remained firmly in double figures heading into the final quarter.

Leading by 11 points with less than four minutes remaining, China appeared in control but Taylor and Phillips had different ideas, propelling the Australians on an 11-3 run that saw the margin cut to two points.

The run would come too late for the Jayco Opals as the Chinese would seal the win at the free throw line.

Next stop for the Jayco Opals is Varese, Italy and the AIS European Training Centre for final preparation before heading to Istanbul ahead of the tournament opener.


Jayco Australian Opals 70-76 China
Q1: 17-27
Q2: 38-44
Q3: 54-66
Q4: 70-76

The Jayco Opals open their 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women in Istanbul against Cuba on Saturday night 27 September at 9:15pm AEST.

Based in the Istanbul, the Jayco Opals will also face Korea and Belarus in their Group C fixtures leading into the knockout rounds and eventually the tournament final in the early hours of Monday 6 October.

CLICK HERE to see the full schedule for the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women.

Fans won’t miss a minute of the action from Turkey with all Jayco Australian Opals games to be broadcast LIVE and in full on ABC2 as part of their extensive 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women coverage.

The 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women will be held in Turkey from 28 September to 6 October.

Jayco Australian Opals pre-FIBA World Championship for Women 

Paris Tournament

Jayco Australian Opals 66-72 USA

Jayco Australian Opals 71-55 France

Jayco Australian Opals 70-76 China

Jayco Australian Opals FIBA World Championship for Women – Group Stage Fixture

Jayco Australian Opals v Cuba
Saturday 27 September @ City Arena, Istanbul 9:15pm (All times AEST)
TV: LIVE on ABC2 Nationally

Jayco Australian Opals v Korea
Sunday 28 September @ City Arena, Istanbul 9:15pm
TV: LIVE on ABC2 Nationally

Jayco Australian Opals v Belarus
Tuesday 30 September @ City Arena, Istanbul 11:30pm
TV: LIVE on ABC2 Nationally

Jayco Australian Opals Team – 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women

Rebecca Allen – Melbourne Boomers
Natalie Burton – Melbourne Boomers
Cayla Francis – Townsville Fire
Laura Hodges – Adelaide Lightning
Rachel Jarry – Melbourne Boomers
Tessa Lavey – Bendigo Spirit
Leilani Mitchell – Sydney Uni Flames
Erin Phillips – Phoenix Mercury (WNBA)
Belinda Snell – Bendigo Spirit
Penny Taylor – Phoenix Mercury (WNBA)
Marianna Tolo – Bourges (France)

Coaching Staff

Head Coach: Brendan Joyce
Assistant Coaches: Damian Cotter and Lori Chizik
Technical Assistant Coach: Scott Butler

For all the latest on the Jayco Opals ahead of their journey to Turkey be sure to visit the BA website at

Media Contact:

Max Bennett

Basketball Australia Media and Communications Manager
Mob +61 438 528 997• Tel +61 3 9697 4316 • Fax +61 3 9697 4301
Melbourne Office Address: Level 4, 210 Albert Road, South Melbourne VIC 3205
PO BOX 218 South Melbourne VIC 3205 • Twitter: @BasketballAus @AussieOpals