HAINING (FIBA Diamond Ball for Women) – Lauren Jackson, Penny Taylor and Suzy Batkovic all had big games as Australia cruised past China in their opener at the FIBA Diamond Ball for Women.
Jackson scored 21 points while Batkovic and Taylor each weighed in with 17 in an 84-70 triumph.
China coach Tom Maher was pleased that his team had not given up after Australia had opened up a 22-point lead in the fourth quarter.
“I don’t want miracles, I want to see our team do our best,” Maher said.
“We had some people intimidated today. If you are suffering such a lack of focus - Jackson was scary - well that’s a lesson you have to learn.
“We are who we are. We’re not Lauren Jackson, but we’re good enough to sneak some upsets and win the ones we should win.”
The Opals seized control of the game midway through the first quarter with a 13-5 spurt for a 23-16 lead and went to the changing rooms at half-time with a 49-33 advantage.
They stayed comfortably ahead the rest of the way.
The Opals out-rebounded China 33-26 and also forced the Olympic hosts to turn the ball over 20 times while committing just 15 turnovers themselves.
Jackson was three of five from long range and Taylor two of four. As a team, the Opals were eight of 25 from the arc.
Maher, a former Australia coach, was asked if world champions Australia are the favourites to win the gold and he said: “I can’t split them and the US, and who’s going to leave Russia out?
“They’re all good players. For physical talent, the US is 12 physical specimens, but the Australians have Jackson, Taylor and (Kristi) Harrower - that’s a tough team to beat.”