The Australian Opals are ready and in fine form, leading into the 2010 FIBA World Championships of Basketball for Women, to be held in the Czech Republic. Yesterday, they defeated Spain 85-64 to take out the Salamanca Invitational Basketball Tournament — this without Lauren Jackson (WNBA commitments), Abby Bishop (WNBA commitments), Penny Taylor (back injury), Marianna Tolo (ankle injury) and Kristi Harrower (ankle injury), forcing the Opals to suit up only nine players. Prior to the victory over Spain, the Aussies defeated Team USA, amounting to some solid preparation for the World Championships.
Jackson, the WNBA 2010 MVP and Bishop will join the squad after winning the WNBA Championship with the Seattle Storm. Taylor joined the Opals camp recently after her team was pushed out of the Finals race.
This from the Basketball Australia press release on the Spain match:
The Opals’ hustle on defense continues to lift the further they progress. Players such as Jenni Screen seemed to make a point of standing tall defensively in this encounter, shutting down the Spanish offense, and her teammates responded. They chased down loose balls and attacked the basket at the other end of the floor. The Spaniards threw a press at the Aussies in an effort to bridge the gap, but the class of guards Tully Bevilaqua and Samantha Richards kept the turnovers down, the Opals ultimately running away 21 point winners.
The Aussies shot a blistering 61 per cent from the field and 38 per cent from beyond the three-point arc. Despite the absence of Marianna Tolo, they were also dominant on the boards, smashing Spain 39-23 on the rebound count, a stat they will want to carry through to the World Championship tournament.
For the Aussies, Hollie Grima led all scorers with 24 points to go with seven rebounds, while Liz Cambage continued her fine form, finishing the game with 20 points.