Marianna Tolo of Australia (left) and Natalie Burton leave the court dejected following the defeat in the quarter-finals to Serbia.
Marianna Tolo of Australia (left) and Natalie Burton leave the court dejected following the defeat in the quarter-finals to Serbia. Phil Walter

RIO 2016: Opals in shock exit from Games

BASKETBALL: The Opals' Olympic golden dream has been shattered by underdogs Serbia in a shock 73-71 quarter-final victory at Carioca Stadium.

The Australian women needed a basket in the last 10 seconds to send the match in overtime.

But they couldn't get the ball inside to Liz Cambage to tie the game up in the dying seconds.

It marks sixth quarter-final loss at these Games for Australian teams, including beach volleyball, women's football, women's water polo, women's hockey and men's hockey. 



Cambage had made a basket a few seconds earlier and after crashing heavily to the floor screamed out: "how was that not a foul".

With Ana Dabovic leading the way, Serbia pressured the Opals into a game-killing 29 turnovers, the difference in the end as the lead changed hands with almost every shot during the final quarter.

Serbia will now play either Spain or Turkey in the semi-final, while Australia will miss out on an Olympic medal for the first time in 20 years after its first Rio loss.

It was a sad ending to skipper Penny Taylor's international career at her third Olympics which unfortunately was not one of her more memorable games.

"This sucks but I am always proud to play for my country," an emotional and slightly distressed Taylor told former Boomers star Andrew Gaze on Channel Seven straight after the gut-wrenching loss.

"Credit to them, they spread us out well. They contained us. That was not the way we wanted to play."

Taylor, who did not register her first point until connecting with two free throws in the third quarter, said the loss was disappointing adding: "I could have contributed more," she added.

"Liz (Cambage) dominated inside when we could get her the ball.

"We talked about having fight and coming back hard but we should never have been in that position."

Australia had staged stirring comebacks to win most of their qualification games.

But with the Serbians sensing an upset and playing well above their world ranking, they simply out-hustled their more-fancied rivals who surprisingly did not have the composure to build a decent lead at any stage.


The game was evenly poised at 20-all at quarter-time before the Opals edged ahead 37-35 at half-time.

Taylor looked out of sorts, failing to get on the scoresheet in the first half, taking just one shot.

Rachel Garry's outside shooting (3/5) kept Australian in the fight in the first half as Serbia took it up to the Opals from the tip-off.

Serbian star Sonya Petrovic injured her shoulder just before half-time but came out for the third quarter with black tape down her left arm.

Cambage had three fouls just after the start of the third quarter but Opals coach Brendan Joyce left her on the court.

Two open threes to livewire guard Leilani Mitchell kicked the Opals out to a 48-39 lead as Serbia's points began to dry up.

But when Laura Hodges put her foot on the baseline while in-bounding the ball Serbia was back in front 51-50 late in the quarter before the Opals took a slender 52-51 lead into the final term.

A Cambage foul with three minutes 44 seconds left allowed Serbia the go-ahead basket from the line to lead 66-65.

They snuck out to a 70-67 with one minute of game time left before Cambage made a basket working inside the paint made 70-69 and they hung for a huge upset.