Bronze for Opals in FIBA Asia Cup 2023

A strong effort from a new look Australian team results in a medal in the Sydney tournament where China dethroned Japan in the gold medal match.

In a comprehensive 22-point victory on Sunday, the Australia Opals claimed their second international bronze in two years after dramatic roster turnover from the world cup to this Asia Cup.

With 19 points from all-star five selection Alice Kunek and an additional 11 off the bench from Anneli Maley, the Opals managed bronze over a competitive Tall Ferns team featuring the Leger-Walker sisters and Penina Davidson.

The Story of the Tournament

In a short but sweet group state of the Division A tournament, the Opals managed an astounding 71-point win over the Philippines with Darcee Garbin leading the way in scoring with 18 points.

This was followed by a 46-point victory the following day over Chinese Taipei, with Anneli Maley pulling down an impressive 15 rebounds from the Small Forward position.

Then on the third day, the Opals were dealt their first loss of the tournament, suffering a 25-point loss to reigning champions Japan. Mai Yamamoto starred with 19 points and five assists in an impressive performance from the eventual silver medallists.

The performance however was enough to secure Australia a spot in the semi-finals, taking on World Cup silver medallists China. In a 14-point loss, a 16-point effort from Alice Kunek was not enough to stop superstar and tournament MVP Han Xu. The centre managed a 17-point and 15-rebound double-double as China marched to their first Asia Cup victory since 2011, ending a 5-time winning streak by Japan.

However, despite suffering two straight losses, the resilient Opals won bronze on the back of another impressive Alice Kunek performance.

While it may seem a little disappointing that Australia fell short of the gold-medal match. They can take solace in the fact that they only lost to the eventual champions and the 5-time reigning champions. With only 3 of the 12 players in the squad remaining from their massive World Cup run, the Opals showed the quality of depth they have in their team and that they will continue to be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.