Tearful basketball great Jackson bows out with World Cup bronze



An emotional Lauren Jackson produced a vintage performance to head into retirement on a high, 25 years after her debut, as Australia swept past Canada 95-65 to claim women’s basketball World Cup bronze on Saturday.

The 2006 champions and hosts, who narrowly lost to China in the semi-finals, took a 51-43 lead into half-time on the back of 11 points from Steph Talbot in Sydney.

They stretched out a 17-point advantage heading into the final quarter, with the 41-year-old Jackson pivotal, and there was no way back for Canada.

Widely regarded as Australia’s — and one of the world’s — greatest players, Jackson turned back the clock with a huge all-round effort, ending with a game-high 30 points, seven rebounds and one assist.

It drew the curtain on her international career after she came out of retirement this year, having called it quits in 2016 with a persistent knee injury.

“I said to (coach) Sandy (Brondello) after the game, ‘Thank you for selecting me because you’ve given me another opportunity to play the sport I love in front of the Australian people,’” she said as tears flowed.

“This has been a magnificent experience. This has been the most humbling but incredible 10 months of my life.”

The four-time Olympic medallist, seven-time WNBA all-star and a key member of the 2006 winning team became the face of the tournament and performed a significant role for Australia, featuring in every game.

She ended her fifth World Cup, and first in 12 years, tied as all-time leader in games played on 43 with Brazil’s Janeth Arcain.

Now a mother of two, long-time Seattle Storm star Jackson became only the third player in women’s World Cup history to net 600 competition points, behind Brazilian pair Hortencia Marcari and Arcain, ending with 670.

Uncertainty around her injury situation meant Jackson, who first played for Australia aged 16, was not given an international swansong on her retirement in 2016. She was keen to bow out on her own terms in Sydney.

“It just dawned on me that this will be (my) last game ever in the green and gold and how lucky I am to have had this opportunity to represent Australia and also say goodbye, I didn’t get that chance all those years ago,” she said pre-match.—AFP


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