Basketball fans have inundated social media with messages of support for Bec Allen after the Opals star went down in awful scenes at the FIBA Women's World Cup.
The Aussies defeated Serbia 69-54 for their second win over the tournament, but the victory was soured by a frightening incident involving one of their biggest stars.
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Allen first left the court with an ankle injury in the fourth quarter on Sunday but things went from bad to worse for the player after she returned to the court.
The 29-year-old reeled away from a brutal contest clutching at her side, before being assisted off the court in obvious distress.
The Opals star appeared to be struggling for breath and was in considerable pain as team officials tried to console her.
Allen then left Qudos Bank Arena in a wheelchair after walking proved too painful, with the scenes leaving Aussie basketball fans rocked.
Bec Allen looks to be in a lot of pain as she’s helped off the court. She’s easily been Australia’s best player throughout the #FIBAWWC so far, really hope it’s not serious. pic.twitter.com/KL8H3gEY11
— Amanda Shalala (@amandashalala) September 25, 2022
Man hoping Bec Allen is okay. A bigger hip and shoulder than what we saw at the footy #FIBAWWC
— Dylan Trickey (@Dylan_Trickey) September 25, 2022
I can't believe this again Bec Allen just recovered an injury from the New York Liberty not to long ago now this. Hope you're going to be okay Bec and have a fast recovery.@PickandRollAU @becallen8 @BasketballAus @FIBAWWC
— Kaeley Smith (@KaeleySmith52) September 25, 2022
Massive win Opals. Super impressive performance. Fingers crossed that Bec Allen is okay.
— Daniel Rouse (@Daniel_Rouse) September 25, 2022
Solid win Opals. That looked like ribs for Bec Allen. OUCH! Hope she's okay #FIBAWWC
— Sean O'Sullivan (@SPiercePatrick) September 25, 2022
Goddamnit man, not Bec Allen 😭🤦🏽♀️
— Derik Rows 🌹 (@moneymike9) September 25, 2022
Australia's training staff and some medics helped Bec Allen into a wheelchair and are wheeling her off the floor in the closing seconds of the match.
Opals will come out with a win over Serbia but all thoughts are with Bec Allen as she leaves the floor
— Alexa Philippou (@alexaphilippou) September 25, 2022
Opals coach Sandy Brondello said the Aussies were prepared for the possibility of Allen missing game time after she was treated by paramedics for a suspected rib injury.
Allen led her teammates with 16 points against Serbia and was one of the Opals' best against France on the first night of the tournament.
"It's the next person up if she has to miss a game here or there," Brondello told reporters.
"It would be really unfortunate because she's played really well for us. She's a key member of our team."
Brondello said the Opals were unsure as to the extent of Allen's injury but suspected she had hurt her ribs.
"We'll just have to wait for the doctor," she said.
"I think she got crushed when she went for the ball, in her ribs. She doesn't have a lot of beef on her."
Aussies get one over rivals Serbia
Australia and Serbia have developed an unlikely rivalry in recent years, but the Opals' victory on Sunday night could prove crucial for their chances of going deep in the World Cup.
The Serbs denied the Opals a shot at a sixth straight Olympic medal with a quarter-final win at the Rio Games.
They also defeated the Opals on the road to the World Cup after Australia's Steph Talbot was ejected for elbowing Jovona Nogic.
There was plenty of feeling in Sunday's rematch at Qudos Bank Arena, not least when guard Sami Whitcomb was hit by an arm to the face in the third quarter and left the court claiming her nose had been broken.
The Australians were determined to gain an edge over their rivals this time, lest they slip behind in the race to advance from the highly competitive Group B.
Bec Allen was a problem at both ends of the floor 😤
Top-scoring with 16 points, she was also part of a ferocious Australian defensive unit that pressured Serbia all night long.#FIBAWWC x @TCL_Global pic.twitter.com/4FMUSUnyKB
— FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup (@FIBAWWC) September 25, 2022
Their early dominance came down to physical defence as Australia forced Serbia into five shot-clock violations in the first quarter and kept them to 10 points.
Serbia began to fight back in the second quarter when Yvonne Anderson had her minutes increased and finished the half with 14 points.
Fittingly, Talbot played a significant role in the Australian atonement, restricting Anderson to two second-half points and sinking a three-pointer in the second quarter that gave Australia what was then a game-high lead.
Serbia found another strike weapon in Sasa Cado (12 points) but the Opals had their own avenues to the basket in Allen, Marianna Tolo and Whitcomb, who hit a three-pointer less than 30 seconds after coming back on from her blow to the nose.
"I was happy with our execution," Brondello said after the win over Serbia.
"We did what we needed to do today and we have to focus now to Canada and know that it's going to be another battle for us."
The Opals are now 2-1 and if they win their final two games of the group stage, against Canada and Japan, are all but certain to dodge a quarter-final meeting with red-hot tournament favourites the USA.
Earlier, France posted an unconvincing 74-59 defeat of Mali, while Canada kept their unbeaten start to the tournament alive with a 70-56 win over Japan to remain a game clear atop Group B.
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