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Jackson stars in Opals’ rout of China

Lauren Jackson impressed in Australia's win against China.

Lauren Jackson impressed in Australia's win against China. Photo: AAP

Australian basketball great Lauren Jackson has ticked another box in her preparation for a fifth Olympics as Amy Atwell made a last-ditch bid for a ticket to Paris in the Opals’ 91-63 thrashing of China.

Jackson, who has emerged from international retirement to chase Olympic gold, overcame early foul trouble in a solid showing at Melbourne’s John Cain Arena on Friday night.

The 43-year-old scored 11 of her 13 points in the third quarter when she found her shooting rhythm and added three rebounds and one steal.

Atwell top-scored with 17 points in the second of two matches that will help decide the make-up of the Opals’ 12-player Games roster, which will be announced on Sunday.

“It’s been a full-on week. There’s a lot of pressure knowing that last selections are going to be made tonight,” Jackson told ESPN after the game.

“It’s been hard – probably the hardest week of training I’ve ever been in.

“I feel good, I feel healthy, and I’m glad we beat China the way we did.

“I did not expect that to happen, but the girls have been playing awesome and it was fun.”

Steph Reid (10 points, five rebounds, five assists) also shone in front of 6042 fans as the Opals repeated Wednesday’s 28-point margin against the world No.2, having won 94-66 in the opener.

Isobel Borlase (six points, four assists), Marianna Tolo (10 points, three rebounds) and Cayla George (four assists, six rebounds) all put in strong shifts for an Opals line-up missing seven stars who are competing in the WNBA season.

Ezi Magbegor, Sami Whitcomb, Steph Talbot, Rebecca Allen, Alanna Smith, Kristy Wallace and Jade Melbourne are all in the Games roster mix.

Those selected will join their teammates in Spain for an invitational tournament this month – with clashes against the host nation and Canada – before the Opals’ Olympics opener against Nigeria on July 29. 

–AAP

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