Day 1: France spoil the party for an incredible 9,000 plus fans in Sydney
SYDNEY (Australia) - The opening day of the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2022 in Sydney witnessed a huge crowd for the Opals' opener on home soil, but France tore up the script.
France burst the gold and green party balloons
Without the legendary Sandrine Gruda and with Marine Johannes having had to depart on the eve of the tournament with an injury, France went into their matchup against Australia as the underdogs. But maybe its a label they will come to love, because their spoiled opening night for the hosts with a super 70-57 victory. Gabby Williams played arguably her best game in a French shirt and led the way with 23 points. This was the first time France have beaten the Opals in the competition having lost their first five meetings.
"We've heard a lot of things about our team", said Alexia Chartereau. "We are young, we have no experience, players are missing, blablabla. But tonight we won, we try to represent our country the best as we can. We leave it all on the court."
The French win also spoiled the eagerly anticipated homecoming of Lauren Jackson, who in the same game became only the third player in FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup history to reach 600 points.
The history-makers as records tumble
It proved to be a momentous day for Puerto Rico as they made history by recording their first ever win. Having lost all three games at the last edition, they got rolling in style by dominating Bosnia and Herzegovina 82-58. Ariella Guirantes was superb with 26 points. 9 rebounds and 8 assists, but it was a tremendous team effort dedicated to the difficulties people on the island are experiencing after Hurricane Fiona. Puerto Rico also set new records for their highest ever points tally in a game and the most three-pointers with 7.
Japan make it rain again with 16 triples
Japan may have changed coach in the past year, but their identity looks to have remained largely the same as they poured donw 16 scores from long-range on Mali to take an 89-56 triumph. With no player on the roster getting less than 10 minutes court time, it was a real team effort. Young gun Aika Hirashita had a FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup debut to remember with 17 points.
USA go 23 in a row
Reigning champions USA got off to a winning start as they took down Belgium 87-72 and they were powered by two terrific performances from Alyssa Thomas and Breanna Stewart. The former was one assist away from becoming only the second USA player to reach double-digits in assists for a game, finishing with 14 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds. Meawhile Stewart top-scored with 22 points. It also means USA have won their last 23 consecutive games in the competition as they made this opening statement of intent.
32 years later...
China cruised past Asian rivals Korea 107-44 after their first meeting against each other in the competition since 1990. Xu Han proved a real handful for the Korea defense and was the pick of some strong China performances, leading the way with 13 points and 15 rebounds.
Fired up Canada lockdown Serbia to lowest ever score
Canada came out hyped up for their first outing in a contestr many had identified as likely to be crucial in the 'Group of Death'. They took a hard-fought 67-60 victory against Serbia, holding their opponents to their lowest ever score in the competition. Kayla Alexander impressed with 13 points and 7 rebounds as Canada also benefitted from the return of Kia Nurse from injury.