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7 June 2001

More silver for Opals in lead up to Ridge visit

The Australian womenís basketball team has won the silver medal at the 2001 East Asian Games in Osaka, Japan - the Opalsí fourth consecutive major tournament (along with two Olympics and a World Championship) amongst the medals.

The team has returned to Australia and is looking forward to visiting Lightning Ridge in July.

The Opals lost the first of their EAG preliminary games 79-74 against China, then hit a winning streak, defeating Chinese Taipei (90-58), Japan (82-77), Korea (76-68) and Kazakhstan (112-66).

In the semi final they posted an impressive win over Korea, in an 89-87 nail-biter.

After holding a half-time lead of 47-36 in the final, the Opals were outscored by a fired-up Chinese team, losing 80-75.

Head coach Jan Stirling was disappointed with the final loss, but said the teamís achievements stand them in good stead for the future.

"The girls have done an exceptional job throughout the tournament, and I was proud of their efforts again today," Stirling said after the final.

"To beat Korea twice was an outstanding effort."

Team captain Michelle Brogan was the only player returning from the Sydney Olympics silver medal lineup. Eight of the 12 players in the Opalsí East Asian Games team were on international debut, making their second placing all the more impressive, and showing the depth of talent in the Opalsí 20001 squad.

Five of the East Asian Games medallists, together with Opals centre Allie Douglas and head coach Jan Stirling, will visit Lightning Ridge on July 28 this year to participate in the Gala Awards Night of the Lightning Ridge Federation 2001 Opal Jewellery Design Awards and Exhibition.

The Opals will also conduct a training clinic for young basketball players in Lightning Ridge.

This visit has been organised by the Opal Jewellery Design Awards Association and funded by local sponsors - stay tuned for details.

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