London: Opals vs Brazil Preview
Read Marc Howard's exclusive preview of the Opals next London pool game against Brazil.
The Opals will look to get their London campaign back on track when they take on Brazil on Wednesday night Australian time following Monday’s heartbreaking overtime loss to France.
Despite some pundits tabbing the defeat as a national disaster for the Australian women, it is at worst merely a setback.
The Opals are still 1-1 and, whilst it makes their remaining Group B games against that much more important to win, it is certainly not impossible that they could still finish top of their pool.
The Australians struggled against France’s speed and, but for Belinda Snell’s successful prayer from beyond the centre line, probably would have lost the game in regulation.
Australia had 18 turnovers against the French, including a number at key moments of the game that helped swing momentum back to the Europeans.
Poor passing was also an issue in the Opals opening game against Great Britain, when Australia had 23 miscues, and will undoubtedly be a strong part of the coaching staff’s pre-game message to the players before they take on Brazil.
In the South Americans they will be facing an opponent that they will be very familiar with. They have played them no less than four times in their lead-up to London. They swept the Brazilians 3-0 in The Farewell Series in Australia and then scored a narrow fourth win over the South American champions in France recently.
Brazil are 0-2 thus far in London and still looking for their first win after losing 73-58 to France and then 69-59 to Russia.
Their best player so far in London has been Erika de Souza, who is averaging 16.0 points and 11.0 rebounds for the tournament. Shooting guard Karla Costa is the team’s second highest scorer at 12.0 points per game thus far.
That lack of a second true scoring option will no doubt be highlighted on the Opals scout sheet, as they will need to control WNBA star Souza while not giving open looks to any of her supporting players.
The good news for the Opals is that other than shooting guard Costa, none of the Brazilians have consistently shown the ability to take and make the three-ball. That should allow the Australians to help inside on de Souza, and still have time to recover out to the perimeter players.
Whilst pre-Olympic warm-up matches mean nothing once you’re actually at the Games, the Opals must have taken a great deal of confidence from their four wins this year over Brazil.
As long as that doesn’t transform into overconfidence, this match-up should provide the Australians with the perfect opportunity to get themselves back on track.
Opals Keys to Victory
- Minimise de Souza’s touches in the paint and double-team her if necessary;
- Make de Souza play defence and possibly pick up fouls by feeding the ball early and often to the Australian bigs with good entry passes;
- Run some plays early to give Australia’s three-point shooters like Belinda Snell, Kristi Harrower and Jenna O’Hea some open looks from the perimeter and hopefully get their confidence up;
- Avoid cheap fouls on our bigs so we don’t have to sit players with foul trouble;
- Take care of the ball;
- Do a better job on the defensive glass so we don’t give Brazil second shot opportunities.