Screen, Batkovic believe defeat helped Opals focus

OPALS veteran Jenni Screen believes Australia’s shock loss to France at the London Olympics could prove a blessing in disguise.

Australia were beaten 74-70 in an overtime boilover in their round-two clash but bounced back on Wednesday with a solid but unspectacular 67-61 win against Brazil.

Screen said her teammates were shattered after the French game, but it was better to suffer such a setback early in the tournament than in the money games.

‘‘I’m just happy we got the win,’’ Screen told the Newcastle Herald.

‘‘After the defeat two days ago, that really crushed us.

‘‘But we regrouped and refocused and as someone said, it’s a marathon not a 100-metre sprint.

‘‘That’s what we’ve got to focus on, getting the job done, day in, day out.’’

The 30-year-old, appearing at her second Olympics, said the unexpected loss might help in the long run.

‘‘You never know, a wake-up call may be what we needed,’’ she said.

‘‘We’d rather it happened now than in the quarter-finals. We just take it, sorry for the cliche, but one game at a time.

‘‘We’ve got a tough game coming up now against Russia [on Saturday 12.30pm AEST].’’

Asked how long the soul-searching process had continued, Screen replied: ‘‘I’d say until the game started today. Yesterday was pretty tough on us but we just held our ground.

‘‘We have a lot of history and we have a lot of pride. Every time we pull on the uniform we know we’re playing for the history we’ve got behind us and the youth and the grassroots that is to come.

‘‘We’ve got our families out here and we know we’ve got massive support back home. We’re just trying to do our country proud.’’

Screen was used sparingly against Brazil, receiving only 13.14minutes of game time, but her game is based on quality more than quantity.

‘‘I know my role and know what my job is,’’ she said. ‘‘I try to give high energy out there and get the ball to the girls who need the ball, and lock down defence. I think we all contributed well.’’

Screen’s fellow Novocastrian, Suzy Batkovic, continued her stellar form at her third Olympics.

The 31-year-old scored a team-high 17 points against France and had 11 points and six rebounds against the Brazilians.

‘‘I probably started off a bit slow but I’m getting there,’’ Batkovic said. ‘‘The old duck’s getting there. I’m just focusing on defence and the rest of the game just happened.’’

Like Screen, Batkovic said it was important to rebound from the disappointment of Monday.

‘‘We were definitely better today than we were two days ago,’’ she said. ‘‘I think it’s going to be a big boost for us because we were definitely down a bit after our last game.’’

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