32 Samantha Whitcomb (AUS) - Australia v Japan, 2022 FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup, Sydney - Sydney Superdome (Australia), Group Phase 27 September 2022

Preview: Australia faces a strong Belgium team in the quarterfinals

It's win or go home for the Group B winners in the FIBA Women's World Cup tonight.

After demolishing Japan 71-54 to secure the top spot in Group B and clinch a top spot in the quarterfinals, the Australian Opals face off against the Belgium Cats in a win or go home situation.

Belgium went 3-2 in Group A with its losses coming at the hands of arguably two of the best teams, the United States and China. Australia fought tooth and nail in majority of its games to come on top after defeating Canada in a nail biting 75-72 thriller to end with a 4-1 record.

Despite the team's 3-2 finish, Belgium is not a team to take lightly. The side bolster a great amount of talent including two WNBA players for the Chicago Sky, Emma Meesseman and Julie Allemand. Unfortuantely for the Cats, they will be without Meesseman due to injury.

To contain Belgium will be a tough task for Australia heading into the quarterfinal match-up. Here are some keys to the game for the Opals.

1. Contain Belgium's guards.

Belgium is a pretty well-rounded team but the team's guards always stand out. Whether it's shooting or playmaking, when their number is called, they show out.

Julie Vanloo and Julie Allemand are two players for Belgium that Australia will look to limit their performance on the court. The two have been a consistent one-two punch for the guards. Vanloo is a primary shooter, averaging 12.2 points per game which is good for second on the Cats. Allemand follows with 9.2 points per game.

The weakness of Vanloo is the strength for Allemand. Allemand is a playmaker who has above average court vision. She will find the open teammate wherever they are. She is second on the team in assists per game with 6.2, behind the injured Meesseman.

Containing all their guards but especially Vanloo and Allemand will be crucial for the Opals in disrupting the flow of their opponent's offence.

2. Shut down Kyara Linskens.

Stopping Kyara Linskens is not an easy task for any team. With Meesseman out, Linskens will assume an even greater role as the primary presence down low. In fact, she and Meesseman are the only two Cats who are averaging over five rebounds per game with 8.2 and 8.5, respectively. The next highest is Maxuella Lisowa Mbaka who is averaging 4.8.

On top of being a prolific rebounder, Linskens is the second-most efficient player for Belgium with 16.0 per game, behind Meesseman, and is in the lead in points per game with 12.8. Linskens is extremely physical on the low block and will give the Opals big players a run for their money if she's not clamped up early.

3. Pound down low.

Assuming Bec Allen - who is a game-time decision to play according to head coach Sandy Brondello -, is still out, the Opals need another player to step up down low.

With Meesseman out for Belgium, the advantage goes to Australia in terms of post players. The Opals have more bodies at the centre and forward positions that have the ability and skill to outmuscle the Cats' big players.

Australia will need the athleticism of Ezi Magbegor, the spacing of Cayla George, and the efficiency of Marianna Tolo to take advantage of an apparent weakness in Belgium's lineup.

The Australian Opals will take on the Belgium Cats in the quarterfinal of the FIBA Women's World Cup on Thursday, September 29 from 8.30pm.