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Lauren Jackson Opals end career high as Lauren Jackson beats Canada to claim FIBA ​​World Cup bronze

 

Lauren Jackson saved the best game of her Opals comeback for last, starring for Australia in a 95-65 win over Canada in Sydney to win World Cup bronze.

Jackson confirmed hours before tip-off that her Opals comeback would end after the World Cup, where she made eight appearances for Australia after a nine-year absence from the national team.

The second-half destruction – which helped any player to score 30 points in a single game at this World Cup – left Jackson’s Australian fans wondering if she might reconsider her retirement.

Opals coach Sandy Brondello hinted that Australia’s bench would play a big role in the bronze medal game 16 hours after their semifinal loss to China.

But even Brondello couldn’t have predicted just how crucial his 41-year-old former teammate would be.

Her first points, a jump shot, sparked an 8-0 Australian run that helped the home team quash Canada’s early dominance.

Across the board, the Opals shook off the shooting woes that hampered them in a tight semifinal loss.

Australia’s best player at the World Cup, Steph Talbot, was the chief architect as they extended their lead over Canada in the second quarter.

Talbot had 11 points in the period – including a clutch three-pointer in the final seconds – with some trademark defensive efforts as the Australians took an eight-point lead into the main change.

Canada’s Kia Nurse made it easy to forget the World Cup with a versatile shooting performance that accounted for nearly half of Canada’s first-half points (19 of 43), returning from an 11-month lay-off from an ACL injury.

With Canada still very much in the game after half-time, Nurse left the court after two quick fouls and Australia had to take advantage of her absence.

The Opals celebrate achieving a podium finish in front of their home crowd.(AAP: James Gourley)

Friday night’s semifinal featured the majority of Australia’s best players, so the Opals found a hero in their all-time greatest player, who only made a cameo appearance against China.

Almost all of Jackson’s points in this tournament have come from beyond the arc.

But in the third quarter, she came alive in the paint and Australia finished the third quarter with 13 points, eventually taking the game-winning lead.

Her seven rebounds and two steals were personal bests for the tournament and as she continued her hot form in the final quarter, the Opals homered.

Jackson walked off the court in the final three minutes as the greatest basketball career Australia had ever seen was officially over.

AAP

Lauren Jackson Opals end career high as Lauren Jackson beats Canada to claim FIBA ​​World Cup bronze

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