Sami opals are Australian Asian Cup tanned

Sami Whitcomb was named captain of an inexperienced Australian Opals basketball team at the FIBA ​​Women’s Asian Cup (Asian Cup), and she did not disappoint.

In fact, it exceeded expectations. The Thursday before the Asian Cup, Whitcomb was playing in a WNBA playoff game for the New York Liberty in Phoenix.

Unfortunately for the Liberty but fortunately for the Opals, the Liberty lost a thriller by one point and their season ended. The following Monday, less than four days later, the Opals and Whitcomb played their first game against Chinese Taipei in Amman, Jordan.

Nine members of the 12-player team were making their Opals debut. Only Whitcomb, Lauren Nicholson and Darcee Garbin had previously represented the Opals.

Group Game 1 – Opals v Chinese Taipei
Acting Opals coach Paul Goriss (Opals coach Sandy Brondello is coaching the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA playoffs) helped Whitcomb into the fray off the bench. This did not stop Whitcomb from scoring a double-double, with 13 points, 11 assists and 6 rebounds. The Opals got off to a slow start, but did enough to close out a 76-65 win.

This match would have cheered up Perth Lynx fans for the upcoming WNBL season. Darcee Garbin was the best scored with 15 points, including 3 triples, and grabbed 7 rebounds. Alex Sharp, like Whitcomb, had a double-double, with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Lynx pick Lauren Scherf scored 7 points and grabbed 7 rebounds.

The twelve players of the team received playing time in this first match. Others to score were Zitina Aokuso of Townsville Fire with 10 points and Sydney Uni Flames drafted Keely Froling with 8 points.

The key players for Chinese Taipei were Yu-Ting Lin with 12 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists, Tieh Lin 8 points and 11 rebounds, and Hsiao-Tong Peng 8 points.

Tessa Lavey of opals (Photo by Robert Prezioso / Getty Images)

Group Game 2 – Opals v Philippines
On Day 2 of the game, the Opals were too strong for the Philippines to win 120-56. Lauren Nicholson of the Townsville Fire scored 21 points, had 6 rebounds and provided 3 assists. Sydney Uni Flames star pick Keely Froling had a double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds. The Perth Lynx trio of Sharp, Garbin and Scherf each scored 12 points.

It was good to see some of the less experienced Opals make an impact in this game with Jaz Shelley scoring 10 points, Tiana Mangakahia 8 points and Jade Melbourne 7 points.

You may well ask what happened to Captain Whitcomb in this game? Well, she dominated during the time she was out there. In just 14 minutes 48 seconds, Whitcomb scored 8 points, grabbed 7 rebounds and had 7 assists.

Janine Pontejos scored 13 points and Kristine Cayabyab 10 points for the Philippines.

Group Game 3 – China v Opals
This match was a great contest, especially in the first half. China headed into halftime with a 40-39 lead. China was able to get away from the Opals in the second half, winning the third quarter by 8 points and the fourth quarter by 9 points.

Sami Whitcomb led from the front, shooting 8/19 from the field and 6/6 from the free throw line to score 24 points. Whitcomb also had 7 rebounds and 5 assists.

It was great to see Kristy Wallace in her dynamic best, with 14 points on 6/13 shooting from the field. Wallace previously recovered from the ACL injuries he sustained playing college basketball with Baylor and on his return with the University of Canberra Capitals in the WNBL.

No other Opal scored in double figures in this game. Xu Han 16 points and 11 rebounds, Yuan Li 15 points and Liwei Yang and Sijing Huang each scored 12 points and Huang also grabbed 8 rebounds leading China to a victory 82 – 64.

Qualifying semifinal
Opals v New Zealand Tall Ferns

The winner of this Oceania “reunion” clash would advance to the semifinals. There were many familiar faces in this match, especially if you are a fan of WNBL and / or NBL1.

It was a hotly contested game, although the Tall Ferns didn’t actually win a quarter. Scores were tied at 20 at the end of the first quarter, the Opals won the second quarter 20-14, the third quarter 14-11 and the fourth quarter 18-16. The final score was the Opals 72 to the Tall Ferns 61.

I’ll give you an idea of ​​who the star of this game was from the Opals’ perspective. You shouldn’t be at the end trying to figure it out.

At one point in the second quarter, it was almost as if Sami Whitcomb had scooped up the entire Opals team and carried it on his back. Whitcomb scored 20 points at halftime and finished the game with 29 points, shooting 57.1 percent (4/7) from 3-point range. Whitcomb also topped the Opals rebounding tally with 7 and provided the most assists for the Opals with 6.

Sami Whitcomb in action for the Perth Lynx. (Wikimedia Commons)

Lauren Scherf 13 points and Darcee Garbin 10 points were the only other Opals in double figures. Zitina Aokuso joined Whitcomb with 7 rebounds, Scherf had 6 rebounds, Adelaide Lightning’s Kristy Wallace and Abbey Wehrung each took 5 rebounds and Wehrung also had 5 assists.

The Leger-Walker sisters were the standouts of the Tall Ferns. Charlisse scored 17 points and had 4 assists and Krystal scored 12 points, had 6 assists and 4 rebounds. Two current Melbourne Boomers, Penina Davidson and Ashleigh Karaitiana, and a former Melbourne Boomer and new Sydney Uni Flames recruit Kalani Purcell led Tall Ferns’ rebound count with 5 each.

Japan v Opals

Based on defensive intensity and 4 triples, Japan took a 20-12 lead late in the first quarter.

The Opals upped the ante in the second quarter. 19-year-old Jade Melbourne of Canberra Capital University made an immediate impact from the bench, taking a defensive rebound and going coast-to-coast towards the basket. At halftime, the Opals were leading 36-31.

Whatever Japan drank at halftime, I want some. Japan scored the first 12 points of the third quarter. The Opals were able to counterattack to lead by 2 late in the third quarter. The Opals led until about three to four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Opals had final possession and had a chance to tie the game or win with a three. Unfortunately, Japan’s great defense and perhaps the Opals’ lack of composure kept the Opals well off the three-point line. Sami Whitcomb attempted a long-range 3-pointer at the buzzer but was blocked and Japan advanced to the final to face China with a close 67-65 victory.

Liz Cambage opals

(JAVIER SORIANO / AFP / Getty Images)

This is the Opals’ third appearance at the Asian Cup and Japan has always been our enemy. In 2017, Japan defeated the Opals in the final by 1 point. In 2019, Japan defeated the Opals in the semifinal by 12 points.

Sami Whitcomb was the Opals’ leading scorer with 16 points. Whitcomb also had 8 assists, 7 rebounds and 3 steals. Lauren Scherf looked brilliant again with a double-double (12 points and 15 rebounds). Keely Froling with 10 points and 3 rebounds and Lauren Nicholson with 7 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals were also important contributors.

For Japan, Saki Hayashi had a 17-point game, which included 5/10 from outside the arc and 7 rebounds. Himawari Akaho scored 10 points and took 6 rebounds. Mai Yamamoto also scored 12 points. While Stephanie Mawuli scored 11 points, she had 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.

3rd place playoff
Opals v Korea

The Opals took a two-point lead in the quarter, but then it was all the Opals, who won the second quarter 23-10, the third quarter 19-12 and the fourth quarter 22-14. 88 – 58 wins.

Sami Whitcomb stood out again with 15 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists. Even a sprained ankle in the second quarter couldn’t stop her.

Darcee Garbin scored 14 points and Keely Froling and Zitina Aokuso scored 10 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. Froling and Aokuso scored eight points in the first quarter.

Abbey Wehrung and Alex Sharp each scored 8 points and Lauren Scherf had another good game with 7 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists.

Jihyun Park was the game’s leading scorer with 17 points, including four 3s, and grabbed six rebounds. Danbi Kim also scored 11 points and had 4 assists for Korea.

Given the inexperienced squad, it was a great effort to get that close to Japan in the semifinals and finish third.

In the final, Japan started the fourth quarter on a 12-0 streak to overcome a 5-point time lead in three quarters to defeat China 78-73. This was the fifth consecutive Japan Asian Cup title.

Sami Whitcomb, who finished the tournament with averages of 17.5 points, 7.5 assists and 7.2 rebounds per game, was rightfully rewarded with the All-Star Five pick.

Other members of the All-Star Five were Tournament MVP Himawari Akaho (10.6 points, 5 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game) and Saori Miyazaki, who scored 26 points in the final, both from Japan. China’s Yueru Li (15.6 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game) and Sijing Huang (13.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game) complete the All-Star Five.

This tournament provided a glimpse into the future for the Opals and it looks pretty bright.

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