Fairytale finish for Lauren Jackson: 30 points and the bronze
SYDNEY (Australia) - Opals' legend Lauren Jackson posted a fairytale ending to her career as her stellar 30 points took Australia past Canada 95-65 in the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup Third Place Game.
Beyond special and like something from a Hollywood movie script, she ensured hosts Australia took bronze and she also did it while equalling the All-Time number of appearances in the competition. This was Jackson's 43rd FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup game and her fifth edition, having last played way back in 2010. Could anyone imagine a better scenario for the last dance of a true basketball legend?
Her 30-points were the first time she has passed the 20-point mark for 16 years at the 2006 edition, when the Opals claimed their historic title.
Turning point: Australia had already taken the initiative when leading 63-54, but they killed off Canada with 17-2 run to wrap up a famous and memorable victory.
Game hero(es): Jackson was sensational as she saved the best until last, rolling back the years to score those 30 points. Steph Talbot was also superb with a near triple-double of 16 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists.
Stats Don't Lie: The Opals sunk a staggering 62 percent from two-point range and that really put the dagger into a soft-centered Canada.
Bottom line: Australia showed incredible mental and physical resilience to pick themselves up from their heartbreaking Semi-Finals loss to China the night before and grab that podium step. Jackson was a towering and inspirational presence, completing one of the most amazing comeback stories sport has ever witnessed. Even if disappointed to miss out on the Final, Australia will surely be content that they got a medal, having been pitched into a seriously tricky 'Group of Death'.
Canada started the tournament on fire but faded badly in their last games and the manner of their losses to USA and Australia will be of particualr concern to Victor Lapena. However, they did get over their issue of always falling at the Quarter-Finals and it speaks volumes of progress in a short period of time that they leave disappointed not to have taken bronze.
"They're the best group of the girls, I've had the best time, and it's the best journey I've had in the sport." - Australia legend, Lauren Jackson.
"I'm feeling overwhelmed with emotion and excited to walk away from a home tournament with a medal. It's been a really long year mentally. I'm just really glad that the Opals are back where they belong... A couple decades ago when Lauren [Jackson] was a lot younger, that generation of Opals, we watched them. So, I've heard that we've had a huge impact on Australia basketball, women's basketball, women's sports, and I really hope that that continues to have a ripple effect for years to come." - Australia player, Cayla George
"I think you saw it today, you saw it yesterday, you'll see it even in the game later in the championship game, for a long time but more than ever right now, women's basketball is on the rise. It's a fantastic product. It's amazing that people are getting that and getting to see that, so it's really special that we've been able to while being on home soil really putting that on display," - Australia player, Sami Whitcomb