Australia is through to the quarter-finals of the home FIBA Women’s World Cup after a thrilling 75-72 win over previously unbeaten Canada.
The Opals are guaranteed a spot in the last eight thanks to their victory on Monday night, with the hosts, Canada, France and Serbia all qualifying out of a very dangerous Group B.
But to earn a crucial spot in the top two of the group – which will ensure the Opals avoid the might of the USA in the quarter-finals – they must beat Japan on Tuesday night and hope a result goes their way.
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Sara Blicavs moved into the starting five replacing star Bec Allen, who copped a knock to the ribs in the win over Serbia on Sunday.
But it was Ezi Magbegor who stole the show with 16 points, seven rebounds and five blocks, while Steph Talbot (11 points, nine rebounds, eight assists) and Samantha Whitcomb (15 points, six assists) were critical.
Scores were level as late as 4:48 left in the fourth quarter after the Opals produced a remarkable 19-0 run in the second quarter, turning a 14-point deficit into a five-point halftime lead.
They then trailed by six at the final break before scoring 24 of the 39 points recorded in the last quarter to win it by three.
Canada had the ball with 19 seconds left down six but chose to run out the clock and make a three with a second to go, seemingly playing for points differential rather than the win.
Australia, Canada and France are all level on three wins and one loss with one round remaining, and play Japan, Mali and Serbia respectively in the last group stage games.
But due to a poor points differential in their matches against Canada and France, the Opals would finish third if all three teams finish at the top of the group at 4-1.
Originally published as Rollercoaster ride sees Opals into World Cup quarters — but job not done yet to avoid USA