FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022: Heartbreak for Opals as China claim late win in cliffhanger semi-final

SYDNEY— It ended down to final possession as China held their nerve to secure their place in the FIBA ​​Women’s Basketball World Cup final, beating Australia 61- 59.

Australia had a chance to take the lead in the final 24 seconds but failed to shoot, resulting in a 24-second violation, leaving China with one possession for it to count.

With the game tied 59-59, Siyu Wang was fouled just 3.0 seconds from time and calmly buried both free throws to put China ahead.

At the end of the timeout, Australia sent the ball to Ezi Magbegor who was shot with free time, but he refused to go down, sealing China’s passage to the gold medal game .

“Obviously disappointed you’re going so far that you want to try and get into the gold medal game,” Opals head coach Sandy Brondello told reporters after the game.

“Proud of our efforts, congratulations to China who really pulled it off tonight.

“Sometimes you just need a bit of luck and we haven’t shot the ball too, so we just have to try to regroup now, it’s a very quick turnaround with a 1:00 p.m. game, and I hopefully we’ll get that bronze medal and cap off a solid week for us.”

Magbegor had almost single-handedly brought the Opals back into the competition in the third quarter, scoring eight points in two-and-a-half minutes as Australia showed plenty of grit defensively, drawing some positives from the loss.

“We showed in this tournament that we can get out of the holes and we haven’t been able to show that in previous tournaments, so I think just being able to stay in the game, thanks to us, is It was obviously down to the very last second,” Magbegor told The Sporting News after the game.

“We stayed there, China were the better team tonight but we just have to improve tomorrow.”

Australia have less than 15 hours before they must return to the field, with Canada awaiting them in the bronze medal game.

The Opals cruised to a 75-72 win over Canada in the group stage, but Magbegor expects even tougher competition on Saturday afternoon.

“There are always areas where we can improve and we will head to the locker room now, have a meeting tomorrow morning and go from there,” she said.

“There are definitely things we want to work on and changes we can make.”

The boisterous crowd of 11,916 raced through every bucket, with both sets of fans deafening the Sydney SuperDome.

“It was very loud, I think we really heard it coming onto the pitch and then throughout the game it was super loud, but like I said it’s good that the fans are getting together. be featured for women’s basketball in Australia,” added Magbegor.

With tonight’s win, China clinched their first World Cup medal since winning silver in Australia in 1994.

China will look to star center Han Xu to continue their impressive form in Sydney in the gold medal game after dropping 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting, adding 11 rebounds and five blocks.

Sami Whitcomb led the Opals with 15 points and three assists, while Magbegor finished with 12 points, six rebounds and two assists. Steph Talbot added 12 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.

China will take on Team USA in the World Cup Final on Saturday, October 1, with kick-off scheduled for 4:00 p.m. AEST, while Australia will face Canada for bronze at 1:00 p.m. AEST.

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