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Emerging Opals upset USA in quarters

AUSTRALIA’s Emerging Opals today stunned the basketball world with a magnificent 76-69 win over unbeaten tournament favourite USA in a KO quarter-final of the World University Games in Taiwan.

A stunning 10-point, 20-rebound game by Darcee Garbin, a 10-point, 14-rebound double-double by Lauren Scherf, a game-high 22 points from Kristy Wallace and a masterful coaching performance by Chris Lucas has sent Australia into the semi finals where another huge challenge against host nation Chinese Taipei awaits tomorrow.

But that’s tomorrow.

Today was cause for celebration despite the US jumping to an early 21-13 buffer at the first break, Alex Wilson carrying the Emerging Opals offensively with nine points.

The Sydney Uni Flames WNBL championship-winner and 2017 Halls Medallist as the fairest and most brilliant player in SA finished with 17 points at 55 per cent, including 3-of-6 threes.

Garbin and Scherf – whose 34 rebounds between them beat the US’s total of 32 – paced a 23-12 second quarter for Australia which saw it ahead 36-33 at halftime and buoyed at the genuine prospect of an upset.

“The girls were awesome tonight, in particular on the defensive end,” Lucas said.

“We made a huge focus to outrebound USA and the girls absolutely smashed it 54-32.”

The Emerging Opals had finished second in their group after terrific wins over Lithuania (78-71) and Argentina (69-47) before losing a thriller to Russia 58-63.

That meant finishing second in their pool and the unenviable prospect of facing the Americans in the quarters, but by the main interval, the mood was positive, the second quarter closing with a Wallace buzzer-beater.

A 20-12 third period in which Canberra Caps star Abigail Wehrung (13 points, four assists, pictured) went to work with a mini 7-0 run of her own, had the USA on its heels.

Fullcourt pressure to open the final quarter saw the Americans cut six points off the deficit before Townsville Fire star Garbin continued her exceptional tournament with a pair of 3-pointers and the Emerging Opals – a team as unified as any Australia has sent overseas and playing with tremendous poise and self-belief - completed a memorable victory.

“That was probably one of the most exciting games I’ve ever played in, whether it was local league or internationally so it’s great,” Garbin said.

“Any time you beat the USA it’s always great.

“That’s just a credit to the group. We’ve only been together three weeks.

“We could have thrown it in after the first quarter but we came back and stuck together and you know the results paid off.”

Japan faces Russia in the other semi final.

QUARTER-FINAL: EMERGING OPALS 76 (Wallace 22, Wilson 17, Wehrung 13, Scherf, Garbin 10; Garbin 20 rebs; Wehrung 4 assts) d USA 69 (Jankoska 17, Charles 16, Fraser 19; Fraser, Charles 7 rebs; Watson, Jankoska 3 assts).

THE Emerging Boomers have had a roller-coaster tournament, beaten 80-76 by Ukraine, taking out Lithuania 84-82, down 72-89 to Israel before smacking Russia 89-71 and Mozambique 87-58.

They missed the quarter-finals and next play Estonia for as high a finish as possible in the 9-16 category.

WINNERS ARE GRINNERS: Ever Emerging, our girls enjoy beating USA. Pic courtesy BA.

Aug 25

Content, unless otherwise indicated, is © copyright Boti Nagy.