Australia’s Opals are poised to rely on their squad depth in the World Cup bronze-medal match, which tips off only 16 hours after their semi-final loss to China.
Australia’s next opponents Canada rested their entire starting five for the final quarter of their semi-final against the USA, who had built up an unassailable lead by the final change.
But Australia had no such luxury – the Opals were in the game against China until the final seconds of the 61-59 loss, prompting coach Sandy Brondello to keep her stars on the court.
On average, Australia’s starting five played nine more minutes than their Canadian counterparts on Friday night.
The Opals defeated Canada in the group stage in what Brondello described as “a really tough game” but the coach said the quick turnaround could challenge Australia in their bid to make it two from two.
“Tonight, obviously, they didn’t play their (star) players that much and we did,” she told reporters.
“That’s going to be another thing that weighs into that.
Make or break
“We’re going to have to rely on our depth and we’re going to have to dig deep.”
Darcee Garbin, Anneli Maley and Lauren Jackson will be the freshest heading into Saturday’s bronze-medal tie, having played the least minutes of the Australians in the semi-final.
Jackson made it on court for under three minutes as Brondello favoured Marianna Tolo and Ezi Magbegor as match-ups for destructive Chinese centre Xu Han.
Brondello confirmed Jackson was in no doubt for Saturday despite her limited minutes.
“She was fine, I suppose it was just a match-up. Han was a handful,” Brondello said.
“I was going to put (Jackson) back in if Yueru Li came back in and she didn’t.
“Loz will be ready for tomorrow.”
Another player with a chance to see more game time, Garbin said she was ready to readjust her focus from the last-gasp loss.
“It’s hard,” she said.
“As an athlete, you’re always going to dwell on things. We’re super competitive.
“But we’re moving on to Canada. We’re getting ready to get a bronze medal.”