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AC: Tall Ferns cut down

AUSTRALIA tonight took its FIBA Asia Cup record to 2-0, demolishing trans-Tasman rival New Zealand 82-44, a Gold Medal rematch against Japan looming larger with each day.

The three-time Asia Cup champions beat Australia 74-73 in a controversial finish to the 2017 tournament, also at Bengaluru in India.

And while the Opals sent a message belting Philippines 123-57 in last night's opener, Japan made its own statement across in rival Group A, making newly-promoted India its own victim, embarrassing the hosts 103-27.

As expected, Australia's Oceania regional rival tonight maintained the early pace, trailing the Opals 11-17 after one.

But on halftime, when Cayla George launched a last-gasp hope 3-point prayer which never looked like missing, the Aussies' lead was 43-25 and the Tall Ferns were wilting.

OH BY GEORGE! Cayla George's big three before halftime was a morale-booster.

Abby Bishop (10 points at 63 percent, four rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block in 16:15) then turned in a top-class third quarter, Australia's defence also miserly, holding NZ to six points for the period.

It was another boards smashing by the Opals, winning them 47 (10-37) to 28 (8-20), and their offence was clicking again with 28 assists to 10.

New Zealand's Micaela Cocks and Toni Farnworth worked hard to try and keep the match competitive but quick foul woes for Kalani Purcell meant this result was only a matter of time.

With a match against China to close Group B play tomorrow, Opals coach Sandy Brondello again distributed the minutes judiciously, Steph Talbot (below) logging the most with 20, Lauren Nicholson 11:03, and everyone else in between.

Only Leilani Mitchell failed to score, while seven players - Darcee Garbin (3-4), George (2-2), Katie Ebzery (1-1), Jenna O'Hea (1-1), Steph Talbot (1-2), Bec Allen (1-2) and Nicholson (1-2) - hit 3-pointers as Australia dominated inside and out.

Ezi Magbegor again led all scorers with 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting, plus six rebounds, the Opals' only (minor) concern their free throw shooting, 6-of-12.

AUSTRALIA OPALS 82 (Magbegor 14, Garbin 13, Bishop 10; George 9 rebs; Seekamp 6 assts) d NEW ZEALAND TALL FERNS 44 (Farnworth 12, Cocks 10; Davidson 6 rebs; Cocks 3 assts).

ON TARGET: Darcee Garbin hit 3-of-4 threes. All pics courtesy of

Sep 25

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