SYDNEY (AFP) – Lauren Jackson admitted that she couldn’t have imagined a better end to her Hall of Fame career.
Jackson would have secured Australia’s victory in the FIBA World Cup bronze medal match, scoring 30 points to lead Opals to a 95-65 victory over Canada on Saturday.
“I couldn’t have dreamed of this,” Jackson said. “I can’t imagine it. I can’t actually express what I’m feeling right now. It’s a dream come true. The fact that it’s over, there’s nothing too bittersweet. It’s a very special thing and a pleasure to do here. It was perfect.”
It was a great performance for the 41-year-old mother Returned to Opal after retiring in 2016 due to injuries. Jackson He said on social media On Saturday, this will be her last match for Australia and she was “lucky to have this opportunity to represent Australia and also farewell. I haven’t had that opportunity all those years ago”.
“Saying goodbye like this is great,” Jackson said. “I couldn’t imagine it.”
She has played in 43 World Cup Finals in her career, matching Brazilian Janeth Arkin for the most times. Jackson won three bronze medals and led the opals to their only gold medal in 2006.
Canada (4-3) was looking for its first medal since 1986 when the North American country won the bronze. Even with the loss, the Canadians have progressed more than they have in any World Cup finals in 36 years.
The Kia Nurse finished with 19 points to lead Canada. Nera Fields added 12, while Natalie Ashunwa scored 10 in the loss.
The two pool teams met with Australia after winning 75-72 which helped them earn the top seed in the group.
Australia (6-2) had come off a disappointing last-minute loss to China in the medal round. After a slow start, Jackson made the team score nine points in the first 20 minutes as Australia led 51-43 at the break. The nurse kept Canada in the game with 17 points in the first half.
Jackson then took home 12 of her points in the third quarter when Australia widened the lead to 71-54. Used sparingly throughout most of the tournament, Jackson made a bunch of later moves reminiscent of her dominant season as a WNBA MVP playing Seattle.
Her three-point play with 1:07 left in third gave Australia a 17-point advantage – their biggest advance of the match to that point.
Australian coach Sandy Brundillo, who played with Jackson in the national team, put Jackson back less than 6 minutes before the end of the match and took her to a standing ovation with 2:22 remaining as she made two free throws to end her night. Jackson received hugs from her teammates, who then raised her at the last bell.
“It was a fictional ending and I wouldn’t be happier for it,” Brundello said.
This was the seventh time that a host country played a medal in a World Cup. The only other Spain to win the match was in 2018 when they beat Belgium for the bronze medal. . . . Jackson became the tournament’s all-time leading scorer on the World Cup Tour matches, surpassing her friend Diana Torassi’s mark of 63 goals. Jackson finished with 79 goals.
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