All the analysis from the Australian Opals’ impressive 82 – 44 victory against New Zealand in their second FIBA Asia Cup match.
1. Australia’s offensive arsenal is full of weapons
The Opals are far from one trick ponies. Between threes and high percentage inside shots, Australia have the talent to execute a myriad of skills perfectly.
A full line-up prepared to take any type of offensive shot makes the Opals incredibly difficult to defend.
Even a higher ranked team like New Zealand struggled to stifle Australia’s momentum.
The Opal’s unpredictability meant they could either penetrate their opponents defence or play from the outside. Either way, it meant New Zealand were often caught in the deep end, with a loose defensive setup.
With Australia hoping to challenge for the Asia Cup title, their offensive surprise packet will be a significant advantage.
2. If you want to beat Australia, don’t rely on outside shots
New Zealand’s offensive strategy was simply unsustainable and ineffective. The staunch dependence on outside shots meant they sacrificed high percentage scoring opportunities.
Essentially, the Opal’s relentless defence wore their opponents down. Therefore, consistent scoring became a difficult task for New Zealand as they were not willing to drive for the inside shots.
The key to breaking Australia’s defence is to penetrate towards the basket. Yet, New Zealand’s preference for ambiguous long bombs only increased the Opals’ confidence.
3. Could Ezi Magbegor be the key to an Australian gold?
Australian centre Ezi Magbegor played just 17 minutes against New Zealand. Yet, she scored a mammoth 14 points, more than any other player on court.
Against high class Asian Cup sides such as Japan, Magbegor’s speed and athleticism can exploit team’s defensive stocks.
Despite the centre’s limited game time, New Zealand appeared dishevelled and disconnected whenever she went for goal.
At just 20 years of age, Magbegor has already received several impressive accolades. She was deemed the ‘Most Valuable Player’ in the 2016 Under 17 World Cup and was selected by the Seattle Storm at pick 12 in this year’s WNBA draft.
With her career just starting to take off, Magbegor could be Australia’s missing link ultimate Asia Cup success.