It’s a challenging road trip for the Opals, with the matches played over three consecutive nights however coach Brendan Joyce is confident after game one, following an excellent collective performance from his team.
“We’ll tamper with the game plan a little bit so we’re not predictable,” he said. “There were a lot of things we did that they had problems with so you wouldn’t necessarily go away from it.”
The win was the first for the Opals on their European tour, after two games against Serbia over the past week.
While ranked 29th in the world, the Italians still managed to spring a few surprises on the tourists with their explosive style of play.
“It was a good hit out for us,” Joyce admitted. “They were probably better than we expected, but we played very well.”
The scores were locked up at 20 points apiece after the first quarter before the Jayco Australian Opals took charge.
“It got physical at times but having already been through that with Serbia we showed our composure and they got back within three or five here and there but then it would go back out,” said Joyce.
Katie-Rae Ebzery top-scored for the Opals with a game-high 21 points, while Suzy Batkovic (13), Alice Kunek (10) and Laura Hodges (10) all reached double figures. Tess Lavey also chipped in with 7 points. Batkovic and Hodges dominated rebounds with 8 and 7 respectively. Downtown, the Opals were at 61% but it was in defence where they stood apart with Natalie Burton and Stephanie Talbot “outstanding” according to Joyce.
“Those two are really stopping opponents and allowing us to switch a lot,” he said.
Game two gets underway on Saturday morning, AEST, at 0430.
A full statistical breakdown can be found here.
Italy 65 defeated by Australia 77