Opals Australia v Canada start time FIBA Women’s basketball World Cup: teams, stream, TV

The Opals take on Canada without superstar Bec Allen.

Who will step up in the crucial FIBA Women’s World Cup clash?

Can the Aussies make it three on the bounce?

FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup, Sydney Olympic Park, Sep 22-Oct 1. TICKETS ON SALE NOW

FOLLOW FOR LIVE UPDATES FROM THE OPALS’ CLASH WITH CANADA

Opals make tough call on battered and bruised star

—Michael Randall

Two days after he brother celebrated an AFL premiership, Opals star Sara Blicavs will move into the Opals starting five for their huge FIBA World Cup clash with Canada.

Blicavs copped a Bronx cheer in Sydney as she celebrated the Cats’ — and brother Mark’s — grand final win over the Swans, and will now fill the void in the Opals’ starting five that has been left by battered and bruised gun Bec Allen.

Teammate Marianna Tolo confirmed the change, admitting Blicavs had big shoes to fill in the absence of Allen, who copped a heavy knock to the ribs in the Opals’ Sunday win over Serbia.

“She’s (Allen) been so great for this tournament, her shooting’s phenomenal, she’s got those long arms and that’s why we call her ‘Spida’ because she just has that phenomenal reach to get those balls,” Tolo said on ESPN.

“It’s going to be tough (without her).

“But we have 12 strong girls on this squad and I think Sarah and everyone else in this team is ready to step up.”

Scans showed Allen had avoided serious damage.

Former Australian captain Jenna O’Hea said she caught up with Allen pre-game, who was not in uniform.

“She (Allen) told me she likes sandwiches but that was a bit of a hard sandwich she didn’t want to be a part of,” O’Hea said on ESPN.

“I saw her walking into the stadium tonight and she was standing upright, which obviously she couldn’t do last night. I was able to give her a hug.

“She was in good spirits and she’s hoping to be able to play again soon.

“We won’t be seeing her tonight, but hopefully she’ll be back ASAP.”

Are Opals playing for second?

—Matt Logue

Let’s be honest, it’s going to take a monumental upset to deny Team USA a fourth consecutive World Cup crown.

As Australia, on Monday night, fires up in search of a third straight Cup win, this time against Canada, The Americans set a tournament record with a dominant 145-69 win over Korea.

The triumph helped the US break Brazil’s record of 143 from 1990.

USA’s massive win was sealed via a bucket from centre Shakira Austin with 9 seconds left in the game.

It’s the third straight opponent that the US has held under 70 points.

The Opals have strung together back-to-back wins, but good luck to our girls if and when they meet the world basketball powerhouse

LJ’S spray just the tonic for resurgent Opals

—Matt Logue

It’s the Lauren Jackson spray being credited for reviving the Opals’ World Cup campaign.

Australia‘s chances of progressing deep in the Cup copped a hit after a disappointing opening loss to France.

The Opals failed to match the French‘s firepower, prompting Jackson to have a frank conversation with her teammates.

Guard Sami Whitcomb revealed how LJ’s plea lit a spark in the Australian players to respond in a World Cup on home soil.

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“Lauren was just honest and said, ‘we didn’t fight against France’,” Whitcomb said on ESPN’s Cup coverage.

“That wasn‘t what we talked about, and it wasn’t our defensive pressure. They (France) picked it up and we didn’t.

“We went inside (ourselves) instead of lifting, staying together and getting louder and more physical.

“Lauren demanded more of all of us, no matter what we were doing.”

Whitcomb said Jackson was particularly vocal about the Opals‘ slow start against France.

The Australians allowed the French to take a stranglehold and they couldn‘t regain the momentum in a 70-57 loss.

“Lauren really emphasised that we can‘t come out soft and then try and change how we play.

“Because referees really decide early about who is the aggressor and who isn‘t and that can dictate the whole game sometimes.

“So, if we are coming out and we‘re not the aggressor, that can really hurt us and impact the whole game.”

Thankfully, the Opals listened to Jackson‘s honesty and have responded to record two vital wins over Mali and Serbia.

The Australians need to keep winning in their remaining two pool games against Canada (Monday night) and Japan (Tuesday night) to ensure a quarter-final berth.

Jackson was at her humble best when asked about her words of wisdom to the Opals after their shock opening loss to France.

The five-time World Cup veteran says she is just merely providing a comforting and experienced voice, especially in the big moments.

“I think the girls knew how big a win (over Serbia) was,” Jackson said.

“After the French game they really dug deep and have thought about what we need to bring every single game.

“So, I’m thinking that I really don’t need to say too much, and I just need to go about my business and support them anyway I can.”

Jackson is also relishing coming off the bench after spending the majority of her illustrious career as a star starter.

“I love it – I absolutely love it,” she said.

“I have no issues with it. My role on this team is just supporting the girls and giving them whatever they need.

“So, if I can come in off the bench, play some minutes, play some defence, and get some stops for them, then I‘m happy with that.

“And as I’ve said, I’m just happy to be here at the World Cup, it’s such a huge honour.

“I just feel so proud to wear the green and gold again.”

Kyrgios’ meet and greet with US hoops star

– Megan Hustwaite

What does an American do on a day off during the FIBA Women’s World Cup?

Visit the zoo and have a hit of tennis with Nick Kyrgios, of course.

That was how USA star Jewell Loyd spent her Sunday getting up close and personal with koalas and kangaroos at Sydney Zoo then a meet and greet with the world number 20.

Loyd posting on social media:

“Got a chance to meet and watch a creative artist at work”

She also wished Kyrgios, who made the US Open quarterfinals earlier this month by knocking off world number one and defending champion Danill Medvedev, luck ahead of next month’s Japan Open.

The undefeated USA basketball team, with a quarterfinal berth already secured, play Korea in today’s World Cup pool games in Sydney.

Preview: Familiar face to take on Aussies

Australia face Pool B pacesetter Canada and a familiar face who made history down under in a crucial clash Monday night.

Guard Kia Nurse is the only import in 42 seasons of the WNBL to win the league MVP (2019-20) and in two seasons with Canberra won a pair of championships in 2018-19 and 2019-20.

Nurse, who plays for Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA, returned from an ACL injury in Canada’s opening game of the FIBA Women’s World Cup against Serbia last week and will be a playmaker the Opals need to stop.

The 26-year-old has taken inspiration from Opal and former WNBL teammate Kristy Wallace in her return to the court.

Wallace underwent three surgeries in four years before staging a remarkable comeback which culminated in her debut for the Opals last year.

“Wally is my inspiration,” Nurse said.

“It’s absolutely incredible to see her on the court and playing as well as she is.

“She did her knee and I watched her come back from the first one and when she was in practice I remember saying ‘the way she moves is incredible for someone coming off an ACL’ and then I was there when she did it the second time.

“I saw a lot of the mental battles she had to go through and I don’t think that’s something you can ever prepare for, an injury like that. It was smooth sailing for the first six or seven months and then the mental side hit and it hit hard. For Wally to have gone through it three times and come out on top and be as resilient as she is, play as tough as she does and fearless – that is what I want to be.”

Originally published as Australia v Canada FIBA Women’s basketball World Cup: Follow the latest news, analysis and fallout

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