Jackson ends career with bronze, Australia beats Canada

SYDNEY (AP) — Lauren Jackson has admitted she couldn’t have imagined a better end to her Hall of Fame career.

SYDNEY (AP) — Lauren Jackson has admitted she couldn’t have imagined a better end to her Hall of Fame career.

Jackson helped Australia win the bronze medal game at the Basketball World Cup, scoring 30 points to lead the Opals to a 95-65 win over Canada on Saturday.

“I could never have dreamed of this,” Jackson said. “I can’t imagine it. I can’t really express what I’m feeling right now. It’s a dream come true. The fact that it’s over, there’s nothing bittersweet. It’s so, so special and I have the pleasure of doing it here. It was perfect.”

It was a comeback performance for the 41-year-old mum, who returned to the Opals after retiring in 2016 due to injuries. jackson said on social media Saturday that it would be her last game for Australia and that she was “lucky to have this opportunity to represent Australia and also to say goodbye. I didn’t have this chance all those years ago.

“To say goodbye in this way is just beautiful,” Jackson said. “I couldn’t imagine that.”

She has played 43 World Cup games in her career, equaling Brazil’s Janeth Arcain for most all-time. Jackson won three bronze medals and led the Opals to their only gold in 2006.

Canada (4-3) was seeking its first medal since 1986 when the North American country won the bronze medal. Even with the loss, the Canadians advanced further than they had at any World Cup in 36 years.

Kia Nurse finished with 19 points to lead Canada. Nirra Fields added 12, while Natalie Achonwa scored 10 in the loss.

The two teams met in pool with Australia coming away with a 75-72 win that helped them earn the group seed.

Australia (6-2) had just suffered a disappointing last-minute loss to China in the medal round. After a slow start, Jackson kickstarted the team by scoring nine points in the opening 20 minutes as Australia led 51-43 at the break. Nurse kept Canada in the game with 17 first half points.

Jackson then took over by scoring 12 of his points in the third quarter as Australia extended the lead to 71-54. Jackson, who had been used sparingly for most of the tournament, sparked a series of post moves reminiscent of her dominant MVP seasons in the WNBA playing for Seattle.

His three-point play with 1:07 left in the third gave Australia a 17-point advantage – its biggest lead of the game to that point.

Australian coach Sandy Brondello, who played with Jackson on the national team, handed Jackson with just under 6 minutes left and took her to a cheering ovation with 2:22 remaining as she struck two free throws to end his evening. Jackson received hugs from her teammates, who then picked her up after the final buzzer.

“It was a fairy tale ending and I couldn’t be happier for her,” Brondello said.

TIPS :

It was the seventh time a host nation has played for a World Cup medal. The only other country to win a game was Spain in 2018 when they beat Belgium for the bronze medal. . . . Jackson became the all-time leading scorer in World Cup medal round games, surpassing her friend Diana Taurasi’s mark of 63. Jackson finished with 79.

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More AP women’s basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Doug Feinberg, Associated Press









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