USA coach Sheryl Reeve pays tribute to the WNBA stars after her first win. Opals lose to France. Lauren Jackson

“We have to be able to shoot, we have to be able to get into the basket. Defensively, we have to be able to silence people and that is what this game will achieve in this tournament.

“I think we have some soul-searching to do tonight.”

Opals coach Sandy Brundillo said her team had not dealt with France’s physical defense and they needed more scoring options than just Allen while the 13-point margin could cost them if the final standings approached.

“I didn’t think we moved the ball or sped up to the next move and I’m not sure why,” Brundello said.

“But they are all manageable. We have to respond in the right way. Be frustrated now but what are we going to do about it.”

Jackson, who finished with three points in 10 minutes, entered four minutes before the end of the quarter and was quietly greeted by the crowd, missed her first shot but quickly came out with a steal.

With a minute past the season’s end, Jackson had made her first three and became only the third woman to reach 600 World Cup points.

Meanwhile, Team USA manager Sheryl Reeve wants her players to get a little extra recognition for how they handled the rapid transition from the WNBA season to defending the FIBA ​​Women’s World Cup title.

The United States opened their eleventh World Cup attempt with an 87-72 victory over top-ranked Belgium at Sydney’s Qudus Bank Arena on Thursday despite only nine players available, two of whom arrived in Sydney on Wednesday morning.

American star Brianna Stewart (right) faces Belgian Julie Allmand.

American star Brianna Stewart (right) faces Belgian Julie Allmand.attributed to him:Getty Images

Three of USA’s biggest WNBA stars MVP A’Ja Wilson, Kelsey Plum and Chelsea Gray are still completing their celebrations after leading the Las Vegas Aces to their first WNBA title on Tuesday. They may arrive in Australia in time for Friday’s showdown with Puerto Rico.

Reeve is happy despite the sporadic preparations as players were knocked out of the WNBA playoffs with their heads down.


American star Brian Stewart led with 22 points, Joel Lloyd added 14 and so did Alyssa Thomas, who joined the team only Wednesday morning after the Connecticut Suns lost to aces in the tie-breaking season.

Reeve said her team’s performance demonstrated the resilience of the world’s elite players who swing between two seasons each year, playing in the WNBA during the US summer and in Europe or China for the other half of the year, as well as in major international tournaments.


“I would say that professional players, WNBA players, don’t get enough credit for how far they go from playing overseas to playing WNBA and then playing international with very little time to understand things,” Reeve said. “I’m always so impressed.”

Stewart said it was often emotionally difficult to end your WNBA season in defeat and then adapt almost immediately to the different rules and international style of play.

She also praised Thomas and Breonna Jones Center who played important minutes without any training time.

“It’s like switching from your WNBA team to Team USA and doing it in a matter of seconds,” Stewart said. “You don’t get that feeling after your season is over, so I really appreciate AT and Bri getting here as soon as possible and what they did today. They were productive.

“That’s what we’re used to. For our teams abroad, for the WNBA and for the USA – that’s our schedule and our career, it’s a constant grinding process, but we just put on the next jersey and keep going.”

Reeve hopes to get her full side as soon as possible.

“We have a group, similar to Alyssa and Brianna in that they’ll get here in the morning and find out what kind of shape they are in,” Rive said of her potty players.

“When they get here, we will integrate them. Otherwise, we are happy with what we are doing.”

Sabrina Ionescu of Team USA puts pressure on Belgium's Maxwella Lisa Mbaka.

Sabrina Ionescu of Team USA puts pressure on Belgium’s Maxwella Lisa Mbaka.attributed to him:Getty Images

Puerto Rico received advice from several referees to struggle to win a match at this year’s event, but the island nation caused a major shock on Thursday by crushing Bosnia and Herzegovina 82-58.

Canada showed they would be a team to beat in the Australian group with a 67-60 victory over Serbia, the fourth-placed team at the Tokyo Olympics.

Opal will play France at 8:30 pm on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Melbourne United have pledged to support NBA draft hopeful Ariel Hockporty as he recovers from a ruptured Achilles tendon.

The Germany international had been dreaming of getting into the 2023 NBA draft and forming as a potential first-round pick with several NBA teams tracking his progress at United, where he was expected to start in the center this season.

Instead, Hokborty awkwardly fell to his foot and fell injured in the club’s NBL Blitz game against Perth on Wednesday night and it soon became apparent how severe his injury was.

United have some experience with this injury as striker Jack White completed his recovery from a ruptured Achilles tendon and reached the NBA during a slump after a solid season with the team.

“We are pained as a club because of our love for Ariel and how much he means to us, not just as an athlete, but as a great person,” said United coach Dean Fickerman.

“We will be here for him at every step of the recovery process and will fully support Ariel with whatever he needs during rehab.”

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