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Opals thrash New Zealand to remain unbeaten in Asia Cup basketball tournament

Led by veteran Michaela Cocks and with Melbourne Boomers coach Guy Molloy at the helm, New Zealand forced the Opals into six first-quarter turnovers and threatened to steal the lead early in the second term.

But after holding a narrow 21-19 advantage, the Opals shifted gears on offence to seize control of the contest, going on to hold the Tall Ferns under 25 per cent shooting for the match.

Promoted to the starting line-up following her team-high 18 points against the Philippines, Ezi Magbegor again led the Opals with 14 points, with support from Darcee Garbin (13) and Abby Bishop (10).

Toni Farnsworth top-scored for New Zealand with 12 points while Cocks (10) was the only other Tall Fern to reach double figures.

Points were hard to come by for the Opals in the opening quarter but New Zealand could not capitalise on their defensive work, Sara Blicavs grabbing a late basket to build a 17-11 edge.

A pair of three-pointers from Cocks early in the second stanza moved New Zealand within a basket of the lead, but following a time out from coach Sandy Brondello, Australia came out firing with Katie Ebzery, Jenna O’Hea and Cayla George all connecting from long range.

George then capped a 22-6 run with an off-balance three-pointer on the buzzer to send Australia into halftime with a 43-25 advantage.

Any hopes of a New Zealand fightback were dashed once Rebecca Allen opened the second half with a three-pointer, the Opals holding their opponents to six third-quarter points to take an unassailable 63-31 lead into the fourth quarter.

AAP

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