Australia Opals def Belgium in quarter-final, semi-final vs China, stats, score, highlights

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The Opals will play for a medal at their home FIBA World Cup after taking care of Belgium in their quarter-final in Sydney on Thursday night.

The 86-69 victory will see Australia battle China at 7:30pm EST tomorrow (Friday) in one semi-final.

Strong gold medal favourites USA will face Canada in the other semi-final at 5pm EST.

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The Opals lost 74-76 to China in extremely controversial fashion during the Tokyo Olympics group stage, when with scores level and two seconds left, Cayla George was called for an extremely late foul by the official not closest to the play.

Thursday’s quarter-final was a rematch of the Opals’ opening Olympic game, which saw them lose 70-85. But the Belgians were much less threatening without injured star Emma Meesseman, who had 32 points in Tokyo.

A dream start saw the Opals lead 26-16 at the opening break, capped off by a Lauren Jackson three and fast transition layup in the last 90 seconds, as the legend played a larger role than seen in the group stages.

Then after the Belgians battled back in the opening stages of the second quarter, Australia kept shooting the lights out, extending a seven-point lead to lead by as much as 16, before going into the long break up 52-37.

At halftime Marianna Tolo led the way on 10 points (five of six shooting) with three rebounds, while Samantha Whitcomb (seven points, five assists) and Steph Talbot (five points, six assists) set things up.

Things only blew out from there with the commentators calling for the Opals to start resting players in preparation for a huge Chinese-supporting crowd on Friday night.

Cayla George top-scored with 19 points plus nine rebounds, while Lauren Jackson finished with 12 points in 14 minutes.

Thursday’s results mean the Americans and Opals are the only teams to make the final four in each of the last three World Cups.

Australia finished third in 2014 and was runner-up in 2018, the USA winning gold both times.


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