HomeAustraliaOpals come up big under pressure to upset Canada in nail-biter

Opals come up big under pressure to upset Canada in nail-biter

Steph Talbot’s defence and passing was vital while Magbegor had 10 points at the break.

Canada had the better of the third quarter as Bridget Carleton found space for two three-pointers while the Opals had their offensive struggles until Jackson and Garbin made baskets late in the quarter.

Lauren Jackson runs into a Canadian brick wall.Credit:AP

But an unsportsmanlike foul on Kristy Wallace late in the quarter hurt as Canadian point guard Nirra Fields (17 points) made the lay-up and free-throw before Kia Nurse found room a three on the next play to put Canada up 57-51 heading into the last quarter.

Nurse kept firing in the last term but Sami Whitcomb’s three helped the Opals to a slim lead entering the final minutes.

Belgium have lost their superstar with WNBA championship winner Emma Meesseman out for the rest of the tournament after tearing her left calf muscle.

The Opals could potentially face Belgium in the quarter-finals if they finish in the top-two in their group.

Australia plays Japan in their final group game on Tuesday at 8.30pm.

Meanwhile, after a WNBA title, a finals MVP and now a world record score, Team USA superstar A’Ja Wilson has had an impressive seven days.

The 26-year-old sported a smile from ear to ear after her USA side set a new FIBA Women’s World Cup record for points in a game in their 145-69 win over Korea on Monday.

Last Tuesday, Wilson and USA teammates Chelsea Gray and Kelsey Plum led the Las Vegas Aces to their first WNBA title and Wilson added a finals MVP to her regular season MVP award before partying for a little over a day and then flying out to Sydney for the world cup.

Wilson missed USA’s first two games but has scored 20 points and pulled in eight rebounds in both the win over China and against Korea.

The USA’s A’ja Wilson (centre) comes in for plenty of attention against Korea.

The USA’s A’ja Wilson (centre) comes in for plenty of attention against Korea.Credit:AP

“Oh man – I feel like I’m feeling everything now that I’m here,” Wilson exclaimed after Monday’s win. “First, I was numb to it all, to feeling everything.

“I’m happy to be here and it’s been crazy just to shift, just come into a team where it is a different ball game.

“It’s been a lot of fun, honestly. But I will hopefully take a break in December and take it all in. It’s been a week of craziness.”

Typical of a team which has won its last 26 games and is chasing its 11th world cup, Wilson and her teammates were more interested in improving their defence and tuning up for the knockout rounds than admiring their record, which broke Brazil’s tally of 143 against Malaysia in 1990.

Sabrina Ionescu of the US and Danbi Kim of Korea compete for a rebound.

Sabrina Ionescu of the US and Danbi Kim of Korea compete for a rebound.Credit:Getty Images

Eight USA players scored in double figures and every player scored, while 52 field goals were also a record.

“This is huge. I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of a team that can score the basketball like this,” Wilson said.

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“This is crazy. To put up 145 points when we’ve only been together for maybe a week, a couple of days [in some cases] so this speaks volumes for where this team is going.”

Wilson enjoys playing with the USA as the pressure to perform is shared between their star players.

“I go from being at the Aces, where I’m one of the prominent players that I have to really produce and then I come here and it’s coming from everyone, you’re playing with a lot of great people,” Wilson said.

“So just the role shift is something that I love because I don’t have to really focus a lot on what I need to do, like I do for the Aces. The USA kind of gives you a break, I’m like ‘OK I can come off the bench and I’ll be good’.”

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