By David McPherson
The Australian Opals have booked their ticket to the GC2018 basketball gold medal match with a flurry of opening-term scoring and stifling pressure defence.
Liz Cambage got the scoreboard ticking over with seven of the Opals’ first nine points and our Aussie women never looked back as they cruised to a 59-point victory over the New Zealand Tall Ferns on the Gold Coast.
Jenna O’Hea (seven points, six assists) and Cayla George helped the Opals to put the foot down early and race out to a 13-point quarter time lead.
George was dominant on the night as she collected five boards and dropped four of four three-point bombs and 18 points.
Australia was lethal from beyond the arch, making 15 of 25 attempts.
The Opals swarmed all over New Zealand on the defensive end, depriving our trans-Tasman rivals of passing lanes in a rematch of the Melbourne 2006 gold medal game.
All 12 players on the deep Opals roster put the ball through the basket in an impressive all-round team performance.
The Opals’ hot start allowed coach Sandy Brondello the chance to give her star centre Cambage (21 points, six rebounds) valuable rest ahead of the final, with the 203cm offensive powerhouse playing just 17 minutes in the contest.
Only England remains between our Australian women and the gold medal they covet after the English knocked off Canada in a surprise end to the first semifinal.
England stunned the fifth-ranked side in the world with a 12-point victory over after losing to the Canadians by 26-points during the group stage.
Our Opals trounced England 118-55 last Monday so will head into the game an almost unbackable favourite.
Australia has lost only one quarter of basketball so far in the tournament, which came against Canada.
The gold medal match will take place at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre at 8:30 PM tomorrow night.