Four pillars crucial for Opals
Four pillars crucial for Opals

It won't be up to Lauren Jackson and Liz Cambage to lead Australia to their biggest success in women's basketball.

If the Opals are to produce an upset they will need forwards Suzy Batkovic and Abby Bishop to stand tall.

The Australians face the all- conquering US in a semifinal at North Greenwich Arena today.

No other country has been able to overcome the Americans in world championship or Olympic competition since 2006. The Opals haven't triumphed in 15 meetings at the premier levels of the game.

So why have they got a chance in London? Leading into the series it was believed the rise of WNBA ace Cambage as support to Jackson, arguably the world's greatest player, would give Australia more potency. The duo have been dubbed the Opals' twin towers.

But the green and gold team will need more than just their best two players. They'll need to run deeper to trouble the defending gold medallists.

That is where Bishop and Bat-kovic, who coach Carrie Graf believes has turned the twin towers into four pillars of strength, come into the battle plan.

Jackson has seen the Americans first hand either on the WNBA courts or in international competition for 12 years. The 31-year-old knows she and Cambage can't do the job on their own.

"America are a very special team. They have a lot of talent. They go right down to the 12th player," Jackson said.

"Going in with Lizzy isn't just going to be enough for us. Everyone has to step up. We'll just have to have the game of our life."

Graf has been impressed by the efforts of Bishop to give Cambage and Jackson relief while Batkovic has again been a physical force at both ends of the court.

And the Australian coach believes if Bishop and Batkovic can continue to fulfil their roles there is a chance, borrowing the buzz line in the team, the Opals could do something special.

Graf has told the world she hasn't been prepared to look at the US until the match was booked, but after beating China 75-60 in a quarterfinal she now knows the Opals face a massive hurdle. .

The 45-year-old, at her first Olympics as the boss, joked: "Would you like us to give you our game plan?

"I think you have to do a lot of things to stop the US. Clearly they're the favourites.

"They've had many blow-out games, they're athletic, they're deep. They've got great talent, they can score inside or out, they're great at possession. The list goes on. They're a hell of a team."

The West Australian

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