Team England’s Women go into their final Pool A game against Australia tomorrow after a morale boosting win against Mozambique. Coach Buceta’s side beat the African outfit 78-51 in the early hours of Sunday morning to make it all but certain that they’ll avoid finishing bottom of the group, ensuring a potentially easier route into the tournament's latter stages.
Australia have been the standout at this year’s tournament and are looking good value for their tag as gold medal favourites. A 60-point win over Mozambique was followed by a 39-point victory against Canada, showing the quality that the host nation has at their disposal. Liz Cambage headlines a roster that contains other notable names in Belinda Snell and Stephanie Talbot, big time players that have helped the Opals to #4 in the current FIBA World Rankings.
Whilst achieving a victory tomorrow may be a tall order, finishing 3rd is still England’s most likely outcome even if they do fall to defeat. Finishing lower would require Mozambique to not only beat Canada, but do so by a sizable margin. That’s an unlikely scenario for the side currently bottom of Pool A. If England do finish 3rd, they would avoid Pool B’s unbeaten leaders New Zealand in the qualifying round, instead facing 2nd placed Jamaica.
“We have to think of this as a marathon rather than a sprint,” said Team England’s Siobhan Prior. “Regardless of the result against Australia we’ll need to be ready to play that qualifying round game. We’ll focus on Australia and take this one game at a time, but it’s in the back of our minds that there is a bigger picture to the competition.”
In the build up to tomorrow’s game, Prior was also quick to praise the incredible support the side has received since the Games began, “It’s so nice to see everybody and hear everybody, they’re all so loud! It’s really lovely to look into the crowd and see all the flags and hats and supporters cheering us on. Also, there were so many people following at home who got up to watch us in the middle of the night against Mozambique, that means so much to me and the rest of the team.”
If England do finish 3rd in Pool A, their qualifying round game would be against Jamaica in Townsville on Tuesday morning, tipping at 9:30am UK time. Winning that tie would put England into the Semi-Finals with a shot at bringing home a medal.
Date: Monday 9 April
Stage: Pool A – Group Play
How to follow: We’ll have coverage and commentary throughout the game on our Twitter feed, @bballengland. If the game is chosen for live streaming, we'll advertise the link on our social media channels.