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Lauren Jackson into fifth Olympics as Australia’s Opals thrash Germany in Paris 2024 qualifier

The Opals have qualified for the Olympics for the 10th time after thumping Germany 85-52 in Belem, Brazil.

Australia punched their ticket to the Paris Games with a commanding 54-24 first half on Saturday (Sunday AEDT), crushing Germany 24-10 and 30-14 in the opening two quarters.

“Very happy with that performance,” said Opals coach Sandy Brondello. “We have a lot of work to do but this was a really important test for us and we stood up. A great effort from all the team but now it’s 100% focus on the Olympics.”

In a more authoritative performance than Friday’s nervy five-point escape against hosts Brazil, all 12 Opals got on the scoreboard against Germany, led by captain Tess Madgen’s 15 points, including 13 without a miss in her side’s commanding first half.

Fellow veteran Bec Allen added 10 points, as did 19-year-old Isobel Borlase in an impressive debut in the green and gold.

Leonie Fiebich, who starred in world No 25 Germany’s tournament-opening upset of Serbia, led her country’s scoring again with 11 points, albeit at just 27 per cent.

Germany were dealt a lethal pre-match blow with the injury-enforced absence of the Sabally sisters, their two best players.

Two-time WNBA All-Star Satou Sabally suffered a separated left shoulder against Serbia, and power forward Nyara Sabally, who plays for Brondello at New York Liberty, was out with a knee injury.

“The biggest thing for me with the Sabally sisters being out was to not be complacent, because that can happen,” Brondello said. “Our first half wasn’t perfect, but we were locked in. We knew we’d be qualifying for Paris if we won tonight. Happy to get that behind us.”

The depleted Germans missed their first nine shots en route to a 26 per cent shooting night as Australia jumped ahead 8-0.

The great Lauren Jackson, sparingly used against Brazil, came in midway through the opening term and had an immediate impact, dishing a sizzling assist to Ezi Magbegor, then knocking down a three-pointer.

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Jackson’s seven-point opening term off the bench helped the Opals seize total control.

Borlase subbed in for her first international minutes with two minutes 28 seconds remaining in the second term and nailed a corner trey with her opening shot and poured in seven quick points, combining superbly in transition with Madgen, who buried three first-half treys without a miss.

Third-ranked Australia’s sterling defence dipped fractionally in a 21-21 third term, before the offences of both teams spluttered in a scrappy fourth quarter, but by then the Opals’ job was already done.

Australia’s last match in the Olympic qualifying tournament is against world No 10 Serbia on Monday AEDT.

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