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TOQ: Opals scatter Chinese Taipei

TOKYO OLYMPIC QUALIFIERS: Australia's Opals took care of business tonight, claiming the first of the two wins necessary to move on to Phase Two of qualifying for Tokyo next year by bouncing Chinese Taipei 84-51.

Star centre Liz Cambage scored on the first possession, had four points within a further 30 seconds and then led CT 6-2 by herself as Australia immediately established its advantage in Group B's opening match in Kuala Lumpur.

Cambage finished with a game-high 16 points at 67 percent in 16 minutes, with six defensive rebounds, three blocks and a steal which led to a break and the Opals' first bucket of the second half.

She also kept her cool dealing with the customary wrestling, grappling and flopping of her smaller opponents which led to seven turnovers and a degree of frustration few other players experience.

Ahead 26-9 after one quarter, this already was in the bag, Australia ultimately outrebounding Chinese Taipei 50-25, while shooting at 61 percent to 25.

Eight Opals fired up a 3-pointer, only Leilani Mitchell coming up empty from an 8-of-13 return outside the arc.

Cayla George's 12 points came at 80 percent and were accompanied by a game-high nine rebounds, fellow starter Steph Talbot's 11 points off a perfect 4-of-4 shooting, plus eight rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block.

Coach Sandy Brondello had the luxury of clearing her bench and 11 of her 12 players scored, no-one playing less than 10 minutes, with Bec Allen the busiest logging 21:27.

Leading 48-22 at halftime, the Opals started the second half with two sloppy turnovers before Cambage's steal.

Another 24-11 period meant this was well and truly over by the last break, Chinese Taipei opening the fourth quarter with consecutive 3-pointers for a 6-0 run, their best of the contest.

Allen then cut loose with a trio of slick jumpshots and while the Opals, intentionally or otherwise, took the foot off the pedal in the home stretch, there is little doubt a similar fate awaits their next opponent India on Saturday.

Meanwhile in Group A being played in Auckland, Korea started with a major upset of China, winning 81-80 before New Zealand squashed the Philippines 111-54.

AUSTRALIA OPALS 84 (Cambage 16, Allen 13, George 12, Talbot 11; George 9 rebs; O’Hea 6 assts) d CHINESE TAIPEI 51 in Kuala Lumpur.
KOREA 81 d CHINA 80 in Auckland. NEW ZEALAND TALL FERNS 111 (Boagni, Davidson 16, Karaitiana 13, Edmondson 12, Taylor 11; Davidson 11 rebs; Purcell 7 assts) d PHILIPPINES 54 in Auckland.

Nov 14

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