Lauren Jackson enters the record books with the 600th World Championship point. France defeats Opals in the Women’s Basketball World Cup

The return of Lauren Jackson couldn’t stop the Opals from losing 70-57 to Olympic bronze medalist France in their first game of the FIBA ​​Women’s World Championship.

Thursday night’s defeat at Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena was Australia’s first of six World Cup matches against France and broke a 19-game winning streak in World Cup qualifying rounds dating back to 1994.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Lauren Jackson goes into the record books with long-distance cracker.

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The loss leaves the Opals ahead to progress out of Group B, the more competitive of the two World Cup groups.

Australia’s most decorated basketball player, 41-year-old Jackson, made a cameo off the bench in her first competitive game for the Opals since announcing her retirement from the national team in 2013.

She made her presence felt early on in defense but saw less use in the second half as her centermate Marianna Tolo began to take over the competition and command more minutes.

Lauren Jackson made a positive impact on her return to Australia but spent the third quarter on the bench. Recognition: AAP

Jackson’s first and only points of the game came from deep in the first quarter with a minute left, restoring Australia’s lead.

The three-pointer made Jackson only the third woman to score 600 points at world championships.

After being forced to sit out the third quarter, Jackson came on and tried to calm her side’s nerves in the final four minutes, but the Opals failed to catch the French after separating in the second half.

“We’re obviously disappointed,” said Opals coach Sandy Brondello.

“We didn’t want to start like that.

“(France) played very physically. They kept us out of a lot of things we wanted to do and we didn’t react properly.”

The end result might not have lived up to a tight competition; The lead changed seven times in the first half.

Lauren Jackson celebrated her return to the Worlds, but the Opals went to France in their opener. (James Gourley/AAP PHOTOS) Recognition: AAP

Both sides were nervous on opening night, but Bec Allen got up early for the Opals and had 11 points to her tally by halftime.

France brought the better defensive pressure, pouncing on Australia’s mistakes to score more productively from turnovers and to pick up easy points through the paint and roll.

The Opals used their size to their advantage, preferring to score through rebounds but regretting some wayward shots.

The French upped their intensity after half-time, but Tolo kept the Opals in contention, fending off France as they tried to carve out a more comfortable lead in the third quarter.

But led by former WNBA first-round draft pick Gabby Williams, France held their lead into the second half by shooting more accurately and building up defense.

“We shot the ball really badly,” said Brondello.

“You can’t shoot at 26 percent (from the field) and expect to win.”

The Opals must finish in the top four in their six-team pool to advance to the next stage of the tournament.

“We need to recover, that’s the style of the tournament,” Allen said.

“We have Mali tomorrow and it will be a very different ball game than what we experienced today.”

Tournament favorites USA beat Belgium 87-72 in Group A before Canada’s 67-60 win over a speedy Serbia boosted their chances of a place in the hard-fought Group B.

After the first World Cup finals without a win, Puerto Rico defeated Bosnia and Herzegovina 82-58 and surpassed their previous tournament high of 62 points by three quarters.

China put on the most dominant performance of the day with a 107-44 win that extended South Korea’s losing streak to 10 games.

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AFL legends discuss grand finals predictions Lauren Jackson enters the record books with the 600th World Championship point. France defeats Opals in the Women’s Basketball World Cup

James Brien

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