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Aussies set up Serbia showdown

14 August 2016

BASKETBALL: The Australian women's basketball team needed another second half comeback to prevail, overcoming a 13-point deficit to beat Belarus 74-66.

The win sees Australia close out the group stage of the competition undefeated and sets up a knockout quarter-final against Serbia.

Strong performances off the bench from Cayla George (nine points and seven rebounds), Rachel Jarry (eight points and four steals), Katie Rae Ebzery (nine points) and Tessa Lavey (six assists and six rebounds) inspired the comeback.

Australia's bench contributed 38 points in the win while Liz Cambage led the scoring with 17 points and added nine rebounds.

Australian coach Brendan Joyce said his side’s depth was crucial today after a poor start defensively against Belarus.

“Our bench did a real good job and that was the difference,” Joyce said.

“I really wasn’t happy with our defensive intensity and I thought Rachel Jarry and in particular Katie Rae Ebzery and Tessa Lavey, they really locked in defensively and created some opportunities for us.”

Belarus was playing for its Olympic life, knowing a loss would see them eliminated.

They led for most of the contest before the will of the Aussies prevailed.

Over the course of the game Australia led for only four minutes and 44 seconds, but it was enough to improve to a perfect 5-0 record in Rio. Australia enjoyed an advantage on the boards, out rebounding Belarus 46-35, including 15 offensive rebounds.

“We’ve just achieved one goal. Our goal was to finish first in the pool,” Joyce said.

“The next goal now is to win the next game.

“We’ve finished first and put ourselves in the best position possible to play against the fourth placed team and if we go out and do what we’ve got to do we’ll be OK.

“We know Serbia is a good team but we’ve done the work to be where we are so if we out with a focus and high effort levels we’ll be OK and then we’ll move on to the next opponent.”

Joyce said that despite a lack of cohesion at stages today, he feels his side is building towards its best form at the right time of the competition.

“I think we’re getting better each game,” Joyce said.

 “Everyone forgets that we just picked up Penny (Taylor) and Erin (Phillips) 10 days out, so we’ve now had nine games together

“I just feel we’ve getting better and more cohesive each game we play.”

The quarter-finals begin on Tuesday. 

Kevin Diggerson


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