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Sport Opals slump to shock defeat in Tokyo opener

15:15  27 july  2021
15:15  27 july  2021 Source:   wwos.nine.com.au

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The Opals have slumped to a shock 85-70 loss to Belgium in their opening match of the Tokyo Olympics.

The Australians held a one-point lead at three-quarter time but were overpowered in the final term, with Belgium outscoring the Opals 29-13 in the last quarter of the match.

Australia are ranked second in the world, and had been expected to account for Belgium reasonably comfortably, leaving a big dent in the Opals' medal chances.

The positive for Australia was Ezi Magbegor, who stamped herself as the Opals' best following the Tokyo Olympics withdrawal of Liz Cambage - but her brilliance wasn't enough to inspire victory.

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Magbegor posted 20 points and eight rebounds.

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Australia's Cayla George was also strong for the losing outfit, tallying 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Katie Ebzery finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.

And veteran guard Leilani Mitchell was influential in her playmaking, registering seven assists.

a woman smiling for the ball: Opal Ezi Magbegor dribbles the ball in Australia's match against Belgium. © Getty Opal Ezi Magbegor dribbles the ball in Australia's match against Belgium.

Roy Ward of The Age posted on Twitter: "Hope everyone is loving the play of Ezi Magbegor. We are watching our next superstar come into her own."

Australian basketball content producer Benyam Kidane wrote: "Ezi Magbegor (is) unstoppable in the paint tonight. Sheesh."

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And Fox Footy editor Ben Waterworth wrote: "The 21-year-old is playing with a maturity beyond her years."

a person holding a basketball: Opal Ezi Magbegor performs a pivot in the Opals' first match of the Tokyo Games. © Getty Opal Ezi Magbegor performs a pivot in the Opals' first match of the Tokyo Games.

Belgium's best was Emma Meesseman, who racked up 32 points, nine rebounds and five assists as the Cats sprung an upset on the Opals.

The women's basketball tournament at Tokyo consists of three groups of four teams, with Australia bunched in with Belgium, China and Puerto Rico.

The top-two teams in each group will advance to the quarter-finals, along with the two best third-placed teams.

Australia's Leilani Mitchell tries to beat Julie Allemand of Belgium in their Group C match in Tokyo. © Getty Australia's Leilani Mitchell tries to beat Julie Allemand of Belgium in their Group C match in Tokyo.

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