Saitama, Aug 2 (EFE) .- Australia, current world runner-up, got the ticket to the quarterfinals of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the last gasp, beating Puerto Rico by more than the 25 points it needed (96- 69) to be one of the two best thirds, in the farewell to the Puerto Rican Olympic dream.
The Australians, not without trouble, achieved their difficult task to be with the best eight: they had not only to win, but to do it by 25 points to offset their -17 balance between points scored and received and overcome Canada’s +7. For Puerto Rico, with a -77, being a better third was practically impossible.
The victory and the Australian uproar for the quarterfinal would not have come without the inside work of Marianna Tolo, who ruled the paint with 26 points and 17 rebounds, and the claw of Cayla George, who scored 19 points and grabbed 7 rebounds, but It was not a bed of roses, because Puerto Rico resisted, and well, until the third quarter.
The Puerto Rican team, which ended its pioneering experience in the Olympic Games, had a spectacular Jazmon Gwathmey, with 26 points and 6 rebounds, a good start from Jennifer O’Neill (12 and 4) and some contribution from Pamela Rosado (13) and Ali Gibson (10 points and 6 rebounds), but he lacked wardrobe funds and strength to keep up the fight. For them, an experience that they hope will not be unique has ended.
Australia achieved the goal, but suffered greatly. At the beginning, the pressure weighed like a slab on the ‘Opals’ and made them start with a shrinking hand, and Puerto Rico took the opportunity to make an 0-8 with O’Neill’s triples.
Lellani Mitchell stopped the bleeding with two triples and Sandy Brondello changed her four teammates. With Tolo, the ‘Opals’ found a reference in the paint to equalize the duel (19-19, min. 8), but the Puerto Ricans continued to win in desire, and even dominated the rebound (13-14), and with a triple on Gibson’s horn they closed the first quarter ahead (22-24).
With a Gibson on a roll, Puerto Rico separated again, but an Australian 10-0 run with Tolo as the executor turned the score over (37-33). Gerry Batista’s men continued to play their cards: fight on defense and shoot from afar, and that helped them to rebalance the duel, which reached a tight 45-44 at halftime.
The Puerto Rican aggressiveness, and the success of O’Neill and Gwathmey allowed them to continue behind, until the ‘Opals’ began to raise the defensive bar and run, which allowed them to hook an 8-0 partial that not even the Puerto Rican coach was able to stop with a time-out (57-48, min. 27).
Already taking the lead on the scoreboard, Australia went for the difference. He needed to get to 25 points, and with another 9-0 run with two triples from Cayla George and Bec Allen he already got to 16 at the end of the third set (68-52). The goal was closer.
Barely Gwathmey and Rosado put up any resistance to what seemed more like an Australian challenge in pursuit of the quarterfinals. At the halfway point of the last quarter they were five points behind the quarters (81-61, min. 35), but again Gwathmey and Rosado hit again from 6.75 meters and the future ‘Aussie’ was darkening again.
A triple by George and a basket under the ring by Tolo left the ‘Opals’ one step away from the goal with 24 points difference 1:24 from the end (93-64), and a very worked basket already put them above from the target, with 95-69 with 24 seconds remaining. Tolo won the last possession from Gwathmey, and the game ended there. Australia goes ahead in Tokyo 2020, and Puerto Rico says goodbye to the Games.
– Data sheet
96 – Australia (22 + 23 + 23 + 28): Mitchell (12), Erzery (4), Allen (5), George (19), Magbegor (10) -the starting five-, Lavey (4), Blicavs (2 ), Madgen, O’Hea (14) and Tolo (26).
69 – Puerto Rico (24 + 20 + 8 + 17): Rosado (13), O’Neill (12), Meléndez (3), Gwathmey (26), Quiñones (3) -initial quintet-, Gibson (10), Lozada-Cabbage, Pagán, Salaman (2) and González.
Referees: Aleksander Glisic (SRB), Luis Castillo (ESP), Viola Gyorgyi (NOR). Without eliminated.
Incidents: match of the third day of group C of the women’s basketball tournament of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, played at the Saitama Super Arena, without spectators due to the sanitary measures against the coronavirus pandemic.
Miguel Angel Moreno
(c) EFE Agency