'What a disgrace': Aussies rage over Olympics basketball 'travesty'

·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Cayla George, pictured here in disbelief after the controversial foul call.
Cayla George looks on in disbelief after the controversial foul call. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Australia was left seething on Friday night after the Opals suffered a highly controversial loss to China at the Olympics.

The Opals' Olympics campaign is on life support after Australia's women's basketball team stumbled to a heartbreaking 76-74 loss.

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A controversial foul call against Kayla George with just 0.6 seconds left on the clock and the scores tied sent Li Yeuru to the line for two free throws, the Chinese centre nailing both to consign the Aussies to a shock second-straight loss.

It was a bitter end to what had been a thrilling comeback in Friday's contest, the Opals somehow getting themselves back into the game when down by 11 with just over seven minutes remaining.

Opals captain Jenna O'Hea nailed two clutch three-pointers, the first with 10 seconds remaining to close the gap and another with just 2.1 left on the clock to tie things up.

But from an inbounds play, China sent the ball inside, and despite the referee closest to the action seeing no infringement, there was a late call from another official to award the foul.

"Not the result that we want, and especially that ending," Opals forward Sara Blicavs said.

"I'm still in shock right now why a ref would call that right at the end when it could have gone into overtime. So I don't really know what to say right now.

Cayla George, pictured here being called for a foul on Li Yueru.
Cayla George was called for a foul on Li Yueru. (Photo by ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images)

"China are a great team and credit to them.

"I think just silly mistakes and we weren't shooting the ball as well as we could tonight, especially in the last quarter, and it just shot us in the foot a bit."

John Casey said in commentary for Channel 7: “That was such a late call … I don’t know that I can see a foul there.

“And the referee, he had very good position. As you can see, he sees nothing and another referee has made the call inexplicably.

“That’s heartbreaking for Cayla George.”

Fans and commentators flocked to social media to condemn the call.

Opals' Olympic hopes hanging by a thread

The world's No.2 side are now winless after two matches and their finals fate is no longer in their own hands heading into the final round of matches.

With the top two teams from each of the three groups and the next two third-placed teams advancing to the quarter-finals, Australia now face a must-win clash with Puerto Rico on Monday.

But even that may not be enough with the possibility the third-ranked teams in other two groups could both finish with two wins.

Wang Siyu led all scorers with 20 points to go with five assists for China, while Ezi Magbegor had 15 and O'Hea finished with 11 for the Opals.

It didn't take long for Australia to realise they were in for a battle with blood spilled by both sides after a nasty head clash between Katie Ebzery and Wang Siyu.

Both players required stitches but it did little to slow Wang who was driving the Chinese attack as she poured in 12 first-half points.

But as good as Wang was on the perimeter, it was the tall timber inside that was giving Australia fits, the absence of Liz Cambage telling for the Opals who had no-one to match up with the 200cm Li and 208cm Han Xu.

with AAP

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