United States coach Sheryl Reeve praised the WNBA stars after opening victory; Opals lost to France; Lauren Jackson

United States coach Sheryl Reeve praised the WNBA stars after opening victory;  Opals lost to France;  Lauren Jackson

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“We’ve got to be able to shoot, we’ve got to be able to get to the basket. We have to be able to shut people down defensively and that’s where this game will come down to in this tournament.

I think we have some soul searching to do tonight.

Opals coach Sandy Brondello, for his part, has not dealt with France’s physical defense and said they need more scoring options than Allen, and a 13-point difference could cost them if the final stage is close.

“I didn’t think we moved the ball or were quick to the next move and I’m not sure why,” Brondello said.

But they are all controllable. We have to give the right response. Now let’s get upset but what are we going to do about it.

Jackson, who finished with three points in 10 minutes, made her entrance with four minutes left in the quarter and was greeted by cheers from the crowd, missing her first shot but coming up with a steal soon after.

With a minute left in the contest, Jackson nailed her first three and became the third woman to reach 600 points at the World Cup.

Meanwhile, Team USA coach Sheryl Reeve wants to give her players a little more credit for how they’re handling the quick transition from the WNBA season to the reigning FIBA ​​Women’s World Cup champions.

The USA made its 11th World Cup appearance with an 87-72 victory over top-ranked Belgium on Thursday at Sydney’s Kudos Bank Arena, despite only having nine players, two of whom arrived in Sydney on Wednesday morning.

American superstar Brenna Stewart (right) is challenged by Belgium's Julie Allmand.

American superstar Brenna Stewart (right) is challenged by Belgium’s Julie Allmand.Credit:Getty Images

The trio of WNBA MVPs Aja Wilson, Kelsey Plum and Chelsea Gray are still celebrating after the Las Vegas Aces captured their first WNBA title on Tuesday. They could arrive in Australia in time for Friday’s clash with Puerto Rico.

Reeve is happy despite the interruption of preparations as the players head Down Under from the WNBA playoffs.

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All-American Breanna Stewart had a game-high 22 points, Jewell Lloyd added 14, and Alyssa Thomas, who only joined the team Wednesday morning after the Connecticut Sun’s season-clinching loss to the Aces.

Reeve, for her part, said her side’s prowess reflects the resilience of those who oscillate between two seasons each year, playing in the WNBA in the US winter and in Europe or China, as well as playing in major international tournaments.

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“I mean professional players, WNBA players, they don’t get enough credit for how well they transition from playing overseas to the WNBA game and the international game and they have so little time to figure things out,” Reeve said. “This always amazes me.”

Stewart: Having your WNBA season end with a loss and then adjusting to the different rules and international style of play was often emotionally difficult.

She praised Thomas and center Brian Jones, who played significant minutes without getting any practice time.

“It’s like going from your WNBA team to Team USA and doing it in a matter of seconds,” Stewart said. “You shouldn’t have those feelings after your season is over, so I really appreciate AT and Bri coming here as soon as possible and what they did today. They were fruitful.

“This is what we are used to. For our overseas teams, for the NBA and the USA – that’s our schedule and our job, it’s a constant grind, but we put on the next jersey and we keep going.

Rev hoped they would find her full sides as soon as possible.

“We have a team like Alyssa and Brianna,” Reve said of her Aces players.

“When they get here, we include them. Otherwise, we’re happy with what we’re doing.

Team USA's Sabrina Ionescu pressures Belgium's Maxwell Lissoa Mbaka.

Team USA’s Sabrina Ionescu pressures Belgium’s Maxwell Lissoa Mbaka.Credit:Getty Images

Puerto Rico was tipped by multiple referees to struggle to win a game at this year’s event, but the island nation pulled off a huge upset with an 82-58 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina on Thursday.

Canada proved to be the team to beat in the Australian division with a 67-60 win over fourth-ranked Serbia at the Tokyo Olympics.

The Opals play France on Thursday night at 8:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, Melbourne United has pledged to support NBA draft hopeful Ariel Huckporty as he recovers from a ruptured Achilles tendon.

The German international has dreams of entering the 2023 NBA draft and projects as a potential first-round pick, with several NBA teams tracking his progress at United, who is expected to start at center this season.

Instead, Huckporty landed awkwardly on his leg and went down injured in the club’s NBL Blitz game against Perth on Wednesday night, and the extent of the injury soon became apparent.

United have some experience with this injury as forward Jack White finished his recovery from a torn Achilles and qualified for the NBA last season with the team.

United coach Dean Vickerman said: “As a club we are being hurt by our love for Ariel and how much he means to us not just as an athlete but as a person.

“We will be there for him every step of the way through his recovery and fully support Ariel with anything he needs during his recovery.”

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