The Opals went down to Japan in the FIBA Women's Asia Cup Semi-Final overnight. Photo: FIBA Women's Asia Cup - Website

The Opals fell in the Semi-Final of the FIBA Women's Asia Cup against Japan overnight losing 67-65.

The Opals will have to battle it out for third against South Korea after losing to Japan 67-65 in the Semi-Final of the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup.

In a tight clash, Japan was able to keep Australia from scoring in the final minute and a half to secure victory and reach the final chasing its fifth consecutive Asia Cup Championship, however, China still looms after reaching the final relatively unchallenged in the tournament this year.

Japan got out to an early lead, taking control with five minutes to go in the first quarter, quickly piling on a 20-12 lead.

The Japanese’s three-point shooting was their strength in the first quarter scoring shooting at 50 per cent, meanwhile, only Lauren Nicholson could get one three-point attempt off for the Opals but failed to score.

However, the Australians were quickly back into the match scoring eight points to Japan’s three in the first three minutes of the second term.

Japan was able to settle, putting on a few more points but the Opals continued to eat into the lead hitting the front with four minutes to go thanks to an offensive rebound and layup from Keely Jane Froling.

The Australian’s continued to extend that lead in the final minutes of the half going into the break ahead, 36-31, outscoring Japan by 13 points in the quarter.

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That lead didn’t last too long with Japan scoring 12 unanswered points in the opening minutes of the third term to get a seven-point lead.

But with seven minutes to go in the quarter the Australians were able to claw their way back into the quarter evening up the tussle due to Lauren Marie Scherf’s rebounding at both ends.

The Opals went into the final quarter two points ahead, 53-55, but ill-discipline had started to show in the third quarter with the Australian’s fouling eight times, sending the Japanese to the free-throw line four times.

Nicholson opened the scoring in the fourth quarter with a three-point shot following a steal from Samantha Witcomb. The Opals managed to get out to a seven-point lead with eight minutes to go but were unable to contain Japan’s fast break and all too soon surrendered the lead.

Saki Hayashi was Japan’s standout in the fourth quarter, scoring six points, making two steals and successfully rebounding at both ends to put Japan in the position to hit the front once again with 3:33 left on the clock.

Australia was unable to hit the front again, overwhelmed by Japan’s full-court defence only scoring once in the remaining time with the Japanese quickly returning fire to stay ahead, with Japan winning 67-65.

Scherf was Australia’s best on producing a double-double, scoring 12 points and taking 15 rebounds, 11 of which were defensive from her 22 minutes on court.


The Opals will play South Korea tomorrow night at 7:50 pm, while Japan targets its fifth consecutive FIBA Women’s Asia Cup against China later in the evening at 10:50 pm.

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