In a Group B rematch against Canada, Australia looks to find its place on the podium after a devastating 59-61 semi-final loss to China.
Despite fighting tooth and nail in that game, the Opals have a lot to look forward to as they are still in medal contention. Of course fans in Sydney want their country to fight the USA for gold but medaling in general is a big feat and something to be proud of. Here are the keys to the game against Canada.
1. Pound down low.
The game plan against Canada in group play was very efficient and that was due in part to the play of Seattle Storm teammates Ezi Magbegor and Steph Talbot. The duo helped steer the Opals' offence to victory alongside Australia's key guard, Sami Whitcomb.
In their last matchup, Magbegor showed her ability to outmuscle the formidable post players in the Canadian side. She scored 16 points and gathered seven rebounds, however, her most impressive statistic was her five blocks - all of this coming off the bench.
Something switched in Talbot that fans have not seen all tournament long, putting up statistics not seen in a long while, basically being everywhere across the court.
Talbot finished with 11 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists. She was so close to a triple-double which is practically unheard of in specifically women's basketball, until this past WNBA season.
If them two can get rolling instantly, Canada's defence will not be able to handle the high powered Aussies.
2. Samantha Whitcomb.
Just sheerly saying her name should indicate why she, herself, embodies her own key to the game.
During her group stage match against Canada, like Talbot, a switch ignited in Whitcomb and she lit it up from the floor. She scored 15 points which was refreshing to see from the Opals' sharpshooter.
Her shooting wasn't the only part of Whitcomb's game that was noteworthy however, as she torched Canada's defence with her playmaking by recording six assists. On the other end, she was equally impressive. She disrupted Canada's offence in the passing lanes, swiping four passes and even sent back a shot.
Whitcomb's energy was unmatched in yesterday's semi-final against China. Even though she wasn't facilitating as much as she did a few games ago against Canada, she used her strength as the shooter to give Australia a jolt despite the loss. She finished with 15 points and performed at a high level that should translate this afternoon.
3. Get everyone involved.
One player the Opals did not have last time against Canada that they have now is Bec Allen. What they missed, aside from her scoring and ability to slash to the basket, was her length on defence.
The Canadians have to prepare for her return against them in this rematch. She was a game time decision last night against China and she did play for a bit above 13 minutes with four rebounds and a block, getting her mojo back after missing a few games with her injury.
Canada can not deny that Allen is one of the most athletic players on the Australian squad. She brings so much energy on all ends but especially on her defence. It doesn't matter how tall you are, she will go up with the shot on offence or disrupt on defence. Canada has to prepare for that and Australia must utilise her whenever possible.
The Australian Opals take on Canada in the bronze medal match of the FIBA Women's World Cup on Saturday, October 1 from 1pm AEST.
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