After a hard-fought and crucial win over Serbia, the Opals are one step closer to clinching a spot in the quarterfinals. The country standing in their way is none other than the undefeated Canadians. The game will take place on September 26 at 8:30 pm AEST.
Their path to the quarterfinals is an easy one. The only thing they have to do is win another game. Right now, it can be against Canada tonight or against Japan on Tuesday. For the Opals, they probably want to get the win tonight to secure the berth as quickly as possible. Here are some keys for the Aussies against the Canadians.
1. Protect the ball on offence.
Canada is one of the complete teams on both ends, especially on defence. In their last game against Serbia, Canada forced 19 turnovers and ten steals. Last night against the same Serbian team, Australia also turned the ball over 19 times and recorded ten steals.
Essentially, they are evenly matched against the same opponent in terms of offensive and defensive efficiency. Canada's Bridget Carleton is tied for seventh with 1.7 steals per game, along with Steph Talbot. After those two, Canada has five players averaging one per game or more while Australia only has one, which is Bec Allen.
Canada won't lighten up on challenging Australia in the passing lanes with their aggressiveness on the defensive end. Protecting the ball on offence and making intelligent passes is crucial to edge out a dominant Canada team.
2. Execute a balanced attack.
I know I just talked about how great Canada is defensively but this is different. Against a defence like Canada, where there are dynamic players in every position, it's so crucial to have a balanced attack.
Last night, Australia relied on their guard play due to their primary bigs not playing to regular standard aside from Mariana Tolo, Allen, and Steph Talbot.
It did prove fruitful though, as those three combined for 38 points which were over half of the Opals' final score of 69. Coach Sandy Brondello shook up the lineup by benching Ezi Magbegor in favour of Tolo for a more even matchup. I can't tell you what Brondello will do against a balanced team like Canada. All I can say is that guard play and post play needs to be as even as possible, and play calling has to be diverse.
3. Play like it's the championship game.
In my opinion, this game mimics a championship game due to the sheer talent on both teams. If you look at the rosters, there are 12 players who are either currently in the WNBA or were once on a roster. Australia has the edge of 8-4 in this circumstance.
Many of them have a WNBA championship to their name or have been a part of a team who appeared in a championship once in their careers. Basically, those 12 players make up a full WNBA team. By this logic, it will be an absolute grudge match resembling a championship game.
Of course, every single country is playing like it's a championship game as, ultimately, a medal is on the line. It's a win-or-move-on type of game for the Opals, and they must treat it as one.
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