Bronze medal in Amman points to bright future for Opals
AMMAN (Jordan) - Australia claimed their third straight podium place at the FIBA Women's Asia Cup as they took down Korea 88-58 in the Third Place game in Amman.
Having claimed the bronze medal two years ago, it was the same outcome this time around - only this time they did it with so many more inexperienced performers at this level.
With the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2022 in Sydney less than a year away, the result perhaps changes the mood music from the slightly gloomy outlook after an underwhelming showing at Tokyo 2020.
Our bronze medalists.. 🇦🇺 The Opals🙌 !!#FIBAAsiaCupWomen @BasketballAus pic.twitter.com/cv006m1t3e— FIBA Women's Asia Cup (@fibasiacupwomen) October 3, 2021
Turning point: Australia were already on top and up by double-digits approaching half-time, but consecutive triples off the back of some great ball movement really gave Korea a mountain to climb at 16 points. When the Opals then continued to make it rain from outside early in the third quarter, they put the podium well and truly out of sight for their opponents.
Game heroes: Sami Whitcomb was again influential and almost posted a triple-double after contributing 15 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists. Zitina Aokuso did great early and got her team going inside. The center finished with 10 points and 7 rebounds, the same as Keely Froling.
Stats don't lie: Take your pick. Australia were far superior in every category. They made 13 three-pointers which was huge and they also won the rebounding battle 45-35.
Bottom line: Considering the circumstances, this was an incredible effort from the Opals to get the job done and take a medal. No survivors from Tokyo 2020, lacking international experience except for a handful of ballers, head coach Paul Goriss, his staff and the players deserve immense credit. The way they fought, battled like crazy all over the floor for every second was just the kind of foundation they could use for the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup. They also played some nice ball too. The prospect of merging the best of this team with some picks from Tokyo for next year's flagship event is an alluring option. Especially if the team spirit is like this - with every player applauding and cheering every action - no matter who was involved in it.
Korea missed a glorious opportunity of getting back onto the podium for the first time since 2015 and since the Opals entered the competition. The fear that they are going to be 'forever fourth' was confirmed. Having promised so much in the early games, they crumbled badly against both China and Australia, perhaps leaving Amman with more questions than answers about their short, medium and long-term future. The FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup Qualifiers is next on the agenda for them and they are going to have to improve.
They said: "I am really proud of how we responded to a tough loss against Japan in the Semi-Finals. It's easy to carry that feeling into the next game, but I am so proud of our response from top to bottom. It was really fun to play in and watch." Australia guard, Sami Whitcomb
"I have a little regret about the game and I think we could have done better than this. Hopefully we will show a better performance in the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup Qualifying Tournaments next February." Korea forward, Danbi Kim