SPORTS

Jackson turns back the clock to put Opals back on track

The Opals found themselves trailing 10-2 in the opening minutes of their World Cup clash against Mali on Friday night at the Sydney Superdome.

It was a worrying start, but that all changed in the blink of an eye when Lauren Jackson and Marianna Tolo were inserted into the game.

The two Opal veterans showed their teammates how to compete and be absolutely relentless, and it all started when Jackson was fouled under the basket and displayed that legendary spark in her eyes as she stood up for herself.

From that moment on, you just knew Jackson meant business.

That look on Jackson’s face – one of a total commitment to getting a win for the Opals – has been seen for decades as she previously led Australia to medals on the world stage, but seeing it in 2022 was something extra special given her forced retirement six years ago due to debilitating knee issues.

Marianna Tolo proved a dominant force with Lauren Jackson as the Opals came from behind to win.(Getty Images: Kelly Defina)

The presence of Jackson and Tolo in the post changed everything for the Opals and once the team saw success by moving the ball inside and outside, they never looked back and played beautiful basketball for much of the game, leading to a rampaging 60-point win, 118-58.

After being down by eight points early, Australia went on a game-changing 19-point run and it was Jackson, Tolo and Steph Talbot who led the charge as they pumped up the defensive pressure and crucially got to the free throw line.

Tolo is the perfect no nonsense player that gets on with the job at hand and together with Jackson, they calmed things down for the Opals when it could’ve got out of hand quickly.

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