FIBA World Cup player ratings: How each of the Australian Opals rated – Code

What does the future look like for the Opals post-Lauren Jackson? We analyse where Australia goes next and what it learned from the FIBA World Cup.
How big should the Opals be dreaming for the Paris Olympics?
Retiring great Lauren Jackson won’t be there, but the core of the team which finished with a bronze medal at the FIBA World Cup will.
We assess what that means for Australia’s medal hopes and what we learned from a home World Cup where many sports fans found a new team to love.
FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED FROM THE FIBA WORLD CUP
ALL-IN OPALS
The Opals have rediscovered their identity.
On court, it’s playing tough, physical, defensive-minded basketball like the history-making teams of the 1990’s and mid-2000s, and off it it’s setting high standards everyone meets.
There’s no one superstar on this team like there has been in previous campaigns, the Opals need every player to contribute and that’s what they did, earning them a spot on the podium.
This is a likeable team on and off the floor which won many new fans during the home tournament.
STEPHED UP
Steph Talbot has come of age in Sydney and took her game to another level after Bec Allen went down.
There’s shades of Australian legend Penny Taylor, who was this year inducted into both the Australian and Women’s basketball hall of fames, in Talbot who exudes toughness and class.
Her passing, shooting and relentless pursuit of the ball has been first class.
TOLO THE TERRIFIC
Marianna Tolo confirmed what many already knew, she is the best performed Opal at FIBA level.
Oozing national experience, Tolo has played extensively throughout Europe and knows the contrasting styles of play better than most.
Dating back to 2016 when Nat Burton started ahead of her, Tolo would come into the game and instantly add energy, grit, and a presence at both ends of the floor.
It was déjà vu in Sydney, where she forced her way into the line up and was amongst the Opals best in every game.
PARIS AND BEYOND
Kristy Wallace and Anneli Maley are now World Cup medallists and add in the next generation of Opals in Jade Melbourne, Shyla Heal and Maddy Rocci and the future looks pretty bright.
Ezi Magbegor now has two World Cups, and medals, under her belt at just 23 and will have young bigs like Nyadiew Puoch coming through the program over the next few years as Australia chases an elusive Olympic gold medal.
GOAT THINGS
We already knew Lauren Jackson was the greatest basketballer this country has ever produced but her comeback at age 41 in a major tournament on home soil was truly remarkable.
Her journey back to the international stage captured the world’s attention and imagination.
Jackson helped restore the culture and rebuild of the Opals after the Tokyo Olympic disaster, contributed valuable minutes, scored some big shots and her No.25 guernsey sold out the merchandise stands.
Hours after announcing her international retirement, for a second time, in fairy tale fashion she top scored with 30 points helping her Aussies to a bronze medal.
The Opals finished with bronze at the FIBA World Cup after bouncing back from their last-gasp loss to China with a dominant win over Canada.
While it wasn’t the final against the USA many home fans were dreaming of, the Opals had several standouts on their way to a podium finish.
We rate every Opals player and how they performed in Sydney.
KRISTY WALLACE: 7.5
Wallace showed that with needed speed and her high IQ and ability to get to the basket that she will be a key piece of the Opals team for years to come.
DARCEE GARBIN: 5
14 points in 19 minutes against Mali showed what Garbin’s capable of on the offensive end. Didn’t look out of place in her first major international tournament.
STEPH TALBOT: 10
Talbot’s greatest games to date in the green and gold came in Sydney. Growing in stature every game, her dominant campaign was Penny Taylor-esque.
TESS MADGEN: 5
Didn’t make a huge impact on the stat sheet but the captain played solid minutes and was a calm head every time she checked in.
BEC ALLEN: 6
Top scored in two of the Opals first three games (16 against France and Serbia) before sitting out three games with injury. Played 13 minutes in the semi-final loss but didn’t play in the bronze medal game.
EZI MAGBEGOR: 8
Slow start but flourished, gaining confidence and form from a game-changing performance against Canada in the pool rounds. Glimpses at both ends highlighting why Magbegor is the Opals most exciting prospect.
MARIANNA TOLO: 9
Tolo’s impact off the bench was so significant that by game three, she’d forced her way into the starting line-up and stayed there.
Smart, experienced, tough and a constant at both ends in the Opals bronze-medal winning campaign.
CAYLA GEORGE: 6.5
Packed an almighty punch off the bench against Japan then beyond. Can always rely on Cayla for a big shot or a big stop.
SARA BLICAVS: 6.5
Came into the starting five for the injured Bec Allen and added energy particularly in the first term of the quarter final against Belgium, setting the tone.
ANNELI MALEY: 3
The youngest Opal only hit the court in three games, totalling 22 minutes, but averaged 1.5 rebounds making the most of limited opportunities.
LAUREN JACKSON: 7
From opening night when she subbed in and almost instantly sunk a three, something happened every time Jackson was on court. Like she’s done many times before, she took Australia on her experienced shoulders producing a sensational 30-point game against Canada to snare bronze.
SAMI WHITCOMB: 7.5
No pure point guard? No worries for Whitcomb who more than took it up to some of the best player makers in the world while also scoring in double figures in six games.
Originally published as FIBA World Cup player ratings: How each of the Australian Opals rated, what we learned
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