One point precious in Opals’ nailbiter
THE Australian Opals have come away with a spot at the world championships and Kelsey Griffin an MVP award but not the gold medal at the Asia Cup.
The Opals fell at the final hurdle at the tournament in India, beaten for the gold medal by one point in a thriller with Japan.
The sharp-shooting Japanese overcame a six point halftime deficit to take out the gold medal match 74-73.
Japan set up their win by outscoring the Opals 26-14 in the third with Sam Mizushima lethal in offence with an extraordinary seven three-pointers.
The Opals trailed by just six points at three-quarter time and tied the game with 1:30 left to play.
Australia regained possession with a chance to win the game in the final 10 seconds.
Veteran Belinda Snell put up a shot in the dying moments of the game but failed to sink the potential game winner.
Mizushima ended the match with 26 points but it was Australian MVP and Townsville Fire star Kelsey Griffin who top-scored with 30 points and 15 rebounds. For the tournament Griffin averaged 17.9 points and 9.1 rebounds capping off her first tournament as a member of the Opals.
The top four finishers at the Asia Cup have now qualified for the world women’s basketball championships in Spain next year.
Meanwhile, the men’s Asia Cup will be held in Lebanon next month, with Cairns Taipans Mitch McCarron and Cam Gliddon set to suit up for the Boomers.
The Boomers first game is against Japan on August 8.
ON FIRE: Kelsey Griffin.