Australia will play for a medal at the FIBA women’s basketball World Cup after thrashing Belgium 86-69 in the quarterfinals on Thursday night.
The Opals came out of the blocks firing and went on a 13-point run to take a 26-16 lead after the first quarter.
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Lauren Jackson has been playing limited court time off the bench during her comeback but she proved she’s still got it in a dominant first half performance.
The 41-year-old nailed a vintage three-pointer at the top of the arc and gave the Opals a spark on both ends of the court.
Turning back the clock, Jackson was the focal point of everything in attack as she picked up eight points in the first half — finishing the game with 12 points, two steals and a block from just 14 minutes.
Basketball fans were in awe of the throwback performance by the greatest Australian player of all time.
ESPN’s Kane Pitman tweeted: “Lauren Jackson’s per minute production continues to be ridiculous.”
CODE Sports’ Lachlan McKirdy said: “The Opals know how to go on a run and it always seems to be when Jackson is on the court.”
But it wasn’t just Jackson who did the damage for the Opals.
Sara Blicavs set the tone in the first quarter and Cayla George was on absolute fire with 19 points and nine rebounds.
It was Australia’s most complete performance of the World Cup so far and the Opals are now on a five-game winning streak after losing their opening game to France.
Australia will face powerhouses China in the semi-finals on Friday night (7.30pm AEST) — a win will give the Opals a shot at the gold medal and a loss will see them fight for bronze.
Tournament favourites USA will take on Canada in the other semi-final (5pm AEST).
Days after she was crunched in the ribs, Bec Allen warmed up and but clearly sore when she briefly came onto the court and spent the rest of the game on the bench.