Opals no match for USA in World Cup final
AUSTRALIA'S captain Jenna O'Hea says she is "so proud" of her "amazing" Australian Opals teammates after they overcame a string of injuries and upsets to claim a silver medal at the FIBA women's World Cup in Tenerife, Spain, early Monday.
Australia's dream of winning a second women's world basketball championships was ended by a clinical USA who took no prisoners in their 73-56 win over the Opals.
With Penny Taylor, the captain of the winning 2006 Australian side watching from the sidelines, the USA dominated the match from the start to take the gold medal by 17 points.
"The silver is amazing. It is a little bitter sweet because we wanted to win that game but I am so proud for the campaign we had," O'Hea told the Daily Telegraph from Spain.
"It's so cool to be back in the medals."
O'Hea said the Opals went into the match undefeated and with a belief they could beat the defending champions but were beaten by a better team on the day.
"We really wanted that gold. We believed we could win it. We felt we had a good enough team to do it," O'Hea said.
"The USA though, they were tough. They had a lot of firepower."
The silver medal follows on from the gold in 2006 and bronze medals in 1998, 2002 and 2014.
The US nullified the lethalness of star Liz Cambage who left the Game with 14 rebounds but just seven points.
Until the gold medal decider, Cambage had been averaging around 28 points a game.
A favourite for the MVP prior the game, the honour instead went to American Breanna Stewart.
Cambage was named in the FIBA World Cup All-Star Five after an outstanding tournament.
"She's my MVP. She was great," O'Hea said.
Lauren Jackson, a member of the winning 2006 team was one of the first to congratulate the Opals on their silver medal.
"Ahh Opals, you have had a wonderful campaign and you can hold your heads high," she wrote.
"Way to get back to that top two position.
"The USA are just THAT good, right now."