Batkovic heroic in Opals' Olympic defeat

SOME heroics from Newcastle's Suzy Batkovic could not save the Australian women's basketball team from suffering a shock 74-70 over-time loss to France at the London Olympics on Monday.

Having beaten hosts Great Britain on Saturday night, the Opals crashed to earth with a thud.

Batkovic, however, kept her side in the game with a team-high 17 points and 10 rebounds in 26.43 minutes of game time.

Fellow Novocastrian veteran Jenni Screen played 29.15 minutes, producing six rebounds and four assists.

Batkovic is appearing in her third Olympics after helping Australia clinch silver medals at Athens and Beijing.

Screen is at her second Olympics after competing at Beijing four years ago, and was a member of Australia’s gold medal-winning team at the FIBA world championships in Brazil in 2006.

Australia will be desperate to bounce back against Brazil on Wednesday.

“We would have been the favourites to win that,” Batkovic said after the loss.

“I don’t think anyone would take France lightly, but it’s still a shock to the system to lose. But we still have a long way to go, and we’re going to have to learn from what happened today and improve.

“If it turns out to be the kick in the butt that we needed, this result might end up being a positive.

"We hurt ourselves at the defensive end, and we paid the price for that.”

Meanwhile, Merewether's Angie Bainbridge, a gold medallist at Beijing four years ago, will contest the 4x200m relay heats on Wednesday 8.26pm (AEST).

Read Robert Dillon's exclusive interview with Maitland hockey ace Simon Orchard after his emotional Olympic debut in tomorrow's Newcastle Herald. 

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