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Opals sweet in Group B sweep


LIZ Cambage stood over Turkey and the grand stage of FIBA’s Women’s World Cup last night in Tenerife, Spain, like a giant astride an anthill.

With a mere move of her foot, she stomped it into the earth, in the process revealing a focus and maturity which rarely previously has matched her unquestionable and burgeoning talent.

She’s not quite yet where Lauren Jackson once stood, when the world literally was at LJ’s feet, but damn Lizzie sure is mighty close.

Australia swept past Turkey 90-64 to sweep Group B and head straight into Friday’s quarter-final round against the winner of Japan-China in some sort of warped Asia Cup revisit.

But it wasn’t just how ruthlessly the Opals did it, as much as how far Cambage (below) stood out as the sport’s pre-eminent player and how good the support cast around her is.

Much as they did four years ago in Turkey when they crushed the hosts in the Bronze Medal match, the Opals opened by giving them nothing. No easy shots, no rebounds, no respite, no moment on which to build even a flicker of hope.

Cambage was a colossus, Cayla George brilliant and Katie-Rae Ebzery ensured the ball kept moving.

Liz hit shots inside the key and out. Her 3-pointer from the top was sweet, her form on her mid-range jumpshots totally copybook. In a word, offensively, she was breathtaking.

In just 18:51 of action, she also led the game in rebounding with seven, and her defensive swat also sent a resounding message.

The Opals had a 32-point first quarter and even though Turkey battled on gamely, its spirit was broken.

Cambage went into the halftime break with 24 points on 11-of-11 shooting and the Opals ahead 53-33. They shot at 64 per cent, with Sami Whitcomb hot off the bench and Bec Allen finding her stroke.

George had five assists with 12 points at 56 per cent, Ebzery also with five assists, Alex Bunton with seven rebounds.

Everyone contributed, Steph Talbot acing two 3-pointers along with four assists, seven players sticking triples (the Opals were 11-of-23) and all 11 players hitting the scoresheet.

Captain Jenna O’Hea, who is having relentless daily treatment to get her calf strain right, did not play but the extra days rest should hold her in good stead.

AUSTRALIA OPALS 90 (Cambage 25, Allen 13, George 12, Whitcomb 11; Cambage, Bunton 7 rebs; Ebzery, George 5 assts) d TURKEY 64 (Hollingsworth 11, Yalcin, Alben, Senyurek 9; Hollingsworth 7 rebs; Alben 9 assts) in Tenerife, Spain.

Sep 25

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