Opals one step closer to Olympics berth

Darren Snowdon

The Australian Opals have progressed to next year's Olympic qualifying tournament after demolishing India 114-29 in their pre-qualifying match in Malaysia on Saturday.

Needing a top-two finish in their group to advance to the final stage of qualification, the Opals followed up Thursday's 33-point win over Taiwan by making light work of India at the MABA Stadium in Kuala Lumpur.

Japan joined Australia with a 2-0 record after their 83-57 win over Taiwan with the two unbeaten teams playing off on Sunday to determine the winner of Group B.

While Japan are already guaranteed to take part in the Olympic tournament as the host nation, a win on Sunday would see the Opals earn a higher seeding for the final round of qualifiers.

Australia will also be aiming to get one over their fierce rivals following Japan's success against the Opals in the 2017 and 2019 Asia Cup finals.

Liz Cambage was rested from Saturday's clash with coach Sandy Brondello making sure her star centre would be fit and firing for their crucial match-up with Japan.

The final qualifying tournament is scheduled for February with China to host the event, provided they qualify from the Group A tournament currently being played in New Zealand.

Backing up from a 91-point hiding against Japan, India were never in the hunt against a powerful Australian team that scored 34 points in a row to start the match.

Bec Allen led the Opals in scoring with 20 points, including 5-of-7 from long range, while Ezi Magbegor compiled 16 points and nine rebounds.

Ranked 70th in the world, India missed their first 18 shots and committed nine turnovers before Shireen Vijay Limaye banked in a three-pointer for their first basket with 16 seconds left in the first quarter.

Allen nailed two triples on her way to an 11-point start while eight Opals hit the scoresheet to close the quarter up 36-3.

Australia reeled off the first 12 points of the second stanza before India scored again, Allen adding two more long-range bombs as the Opals shot 9-of-18 from long distance as a team for a 57-11 edge at halftime.

The third quarter opened with another long scoring streak for the Opals, this time it was 16 unanswered points, as Jenna O'Hea and Cayla George kept the score ticking over.

The Opals took an 88-17 advantage into the final quarter and outscored India 26-12 to complete the lopsided victory.