Opals impress against Argentina in first game of Rio test event

Opals impress against Argentina in first game of Rio test event

The Jayco Australian Opals have begun their Rio test event in style, defeating Argentina in the first of a three-game series 87-37.

Designed to give Australia a feel of the Olympic host country as well as give the team a hit-out against international competition, coach Brendan Joyce was able to rotate through almost his entire squad.

The only player that did not receive court time was Tessa Lavey, with tightness in her hamstring forcing her to miss the contest.

“Tessa had some tightness coming into this tour,” said Joyce.

“After the second session with the team she presented with increased tightness and scans today in Rio have confirmed she has a grade 1 tear in her right hamstring. Tessa was rested tonight and will receive ongoing treatment throughout the tour.”

The Opals shot out of the blocks with a 9-0 run to start the game, leading by 18 at quarter-time. They extended the margin in each following period, shooting 44% from the field and restricting Argentina to 26% shooting, a statistic that particularly pleased Joyce.

“Our defence was very good, I did not actually expect it to be that good. We had only two training camps before the game but I was happy with our execution.”

Joyce was able to give every player at least nine minutes of court time while no player exceeded more than 24 minutes.

Suzy Batkovic led all scorers with 16 points and 11 rebounds in just 19 minutes while Katie-Rae Ebzery (11 points), Bec Allen (ten points, nine rebounds) and Nat Burton (11 points, six rebounds and two blocks) also reached double-figures.

“[Burton] is an important part of our side especially with her rebounding. I’ve coached 11 of these girls so most of them know what I am trying to do which always helps.”

Erin Phillips, playing her first game since suffering a knee injury in the WNBA late last year, shook off any cobwebs with eight points and seven assists, sharing the point guard duties with Leilani Mitchell who added another eight assists.

The Opals will back up with another performance tomorrow morning Australia time, facing the inexperienced Venezuela team before a clash with the host country, Brazil, on Monday morning.