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Will the Opals beat USA to the Women's World Cup title? 5 reasons why they can
TENERIFE (FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018) - While holders USA will be overwhelming favorites to retain their crown in the Final of the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018, there are multiple reasons why Australia can hope for an upset.
Here are five factors which could help cause a surprise and land the silverware. Oh and we have resisted the temptation to just list Liz Cambage five times:
A special player and MVP frontrunner
Ever since she stepped out on the first day of the tournament and netted a stellar 34 points against Nigeria, Cambage has continued her rich vein of form. She was unguardable at times in the Semi-Final against Spain as she dealt with a chorus of boos from the locals to break their hearts with a sensational 33 points and 14 rebounds. If anyone can cause USA a headache, it's the WNBA and Opals star.
Australia have now delivered in the clutch
Heading into their last game against Spain, nobody had laid a glove anywhere near Australia. But Spain punched them hard into those when they went 58-50 ahead entering the last 10 minutes and with the fans on their feet, it looked like the hosts would continue to soar. However, the Opals showed guts and skills to hit back. They had a chance to show that they can deal with adversity and also deliver in crunch time. So if they can stay in the contest until the last period, they could possibly get it done.
Brondello knows the USA players inside out
No scouting report is necessary for the Opals since Sandy Brondello knows all of the USA players in real depth from her role as a WNBA head coach with the Phoenix Mercury. With people suggesting Diana Taurasi could continue to shine after lighting it up in the Semi-Finals, Brondello is perhaps best placed to get her shut down.
It's not just about Cambage
While her phenomenal performances and production have rightly made the headlines, you don't get to the Final of a major tournament if you are a one-player team. The supporting cast has done a good job and that was shown by the likes of Cayla George draining a dagger triple from the corner against Spain at the start of crunch time in the Semi-Finals. Meanwhile the 10-point cameo from Katie Ezbery was immense in helping Opals sneak past the hosts.
The Opals have won this silverware before
At least Australia don't have to try and get into the history books by making a substantial breakthrough in winning this title for the first time. They have already done that, when they took the top podium step in 2006. Plus, the legendary Lauren Jackson who was on that team, has backed the Opals to make it all the way once again - and did so from before the action even got underway in Tenerife.
But what about USA? Why are they the favorites? Well, just take a look at the world-class names on the roster, their depth, options and unparalleled tradition in the competition.
Before USA and Australia do battle in the title game, tournament hosts Spain will go up against debutantes Belgium with the final place on the podium at stake.
Be sure to follow our Live Blog at the event for the latest news and reaction in Tenerife.