Australian basketball great Lauren Jackson has dismissed any injury worries after she was benched for the entire third quarter of the Opals' 70-57 loss to France on opening night at the FIBA Women's World Cup.
In her comeback to competitive international basketball, Jackson started from the bench at Qudos Bank Arena and sank an important three-pointer in the first quarter to go with some solid defensive efforts.
But as France threatened to run away with Thursday's contest after halftime, Jackson found herself stuck on the bench until the final minutes of the game.
Jackson's retired from basketball in 2016 after suffering chronic knee injuries but the 41-year-old said staying on the bench was more to do with her personal foul count than soreness or fatigue.
"Physically, I'm fine," she told reporters.
"I had two early fouls in that second quarter.
"I'm just doing whatever I'm told to do. I'll get out there and I'll play hard. That's what I've got to do."
Despite the 13-point loss, Jackson said it had been "incredibly special" to run out in Opals colours for the first time since announcing her international retirement in 2013.
"It's pretty crazy to even be here. It's so surreal," she said.
"We've got a bit of soul-searching to do tonight and it's game on tomorrow."
Coach Sandy Brondello said she benched Jackson to try to reignite the Opals' defence and kept her off when fellow centre Marianna Tolo began to fire.
"Defensively they were putting (Jackson) in a lot of pick-and-rolls," Brondello said.
"Lauren doesn't have the same mobility but I put her back in. I was trying to get some offence going at the end.
"I thought Tolo had some really good minutes. That was what was working at the time.
"Lauren will get other opportunities as we move forward."
Brondello said she had been impressed by her former WNBA teammate's journey back to the international stage.
"I'm proud of Lauren for what she's achieved," she said.
"A year ago she probably wasn't in great shape but she had determination and discipline and she get back onto the court.
"We've got to try and get her some open looks.
"I think Lauren is going to get better and better with more games we play."
Australian Associated Press
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