Rio Olympics: Opals defeat host nation Brazil in opener

Perth's Natalie Burton was in action for the Opals. Photo: Getty
Perth's Natalie Burton was in action for the Opals. Photo: Getty

AUSTRALIA’S women’s basketball team overcame a slow start to claim an 84-66 victory in their group A opener against host nation Brazil on Sunday morning.

The Opals, bolstered by captain Penny Taylor, 203m center Liz Cambage and Trigg resident Natalie Burton, came across an inspired Brazilian team led by superstar Izi Castro Marques.

A stunning three-pointer from long range by Brazilian small forward Kelly Santos lifted the intensity of the match early on, with the home side outscoring the Aussies 24-14 in the first quarter.

The Opals started the second strongly, highlighted by a nice play from Perth Lynx player Burton, who set up a Cambage score.

Taylor started her team’s comeback mission through a smooth shot from two-point range to cut back the score to 30-24.

In the closing minutes of the quarter, Brazil’s Dantas and Palmira Marcal suffered a nasty head clash that saw the latter head into the rooms for tests.

Australia cleaned up their early mistakes and trailed Brazil at half-time by four points (39-35).

In the third quarter, the Opals brought some of their best basketball to the game, creating scores from intercepts and sheer class from Leilani Mitchell and Erin Phillips.

They dominated the third quarter, outscoring Brazil 22-14, and finished with a 57-53 lead.

Australia kept on piling the points through terrific long-range shots from Cayla George and Erin Phillips as Brazil dropped their intensity in the final quarter.

Cambage, who completed the double-double and scored 20 points, plus world-class players Mitchell (18 points) and Taylor (17 points) were Australia’s best.

Australia will play Turkey on Monday, August 8, at 4:30am.