Australia will have to find a way past nemesis the United States if they are to become the dominant women's basketball nation in the world.
The US deprived the Opals of World Cup gold on Monday with a 73-56 defeat in Tenerife.
It was the Americans' 18-straight World Cup win over Australia, who eased through the group phase before defeating China in the quarter-finals and eliminating Spain to reach the tournament final.
"I'm very proud of the team to win a silver medal," Opals coach Sandy Brondello said.
"I'm disappointed with the game and how it went but very proud of this team."
Powerhouse centre Liz Cambage led the World Cup in points per game and blocks and was second in rebounding - on her way to selection in the FIBA World Cup All-Star Five - but was held to just seven points by the star-studded US on two of 10 shooting.
Brondello felt the dramatic semi-final win over the tournament hosts took its toll on the squad.
"We were probably a little spent to be honest, especially Liz after the emotional game last night against Spain," she said.
"We just weren't at the best of our game but maybe that's because of the opponent as well."
Australia's run to the gold medal game sparked hopes of claiming a second world title to add to their victory in 2006.
However, the talent and experience of the US was overwhelming as the tournament favourites claimed their third consecutive World Cup and qualification for the 2020 Olympics.
The US jumped out of the blocks in the final with 10 unanswered points before outscoring Australia 26-11 in the decisive third quarter.
"We were only down by eight at half-time ... we knew the first five minutes of the third quarter were critical but we just didn't have it in us and they did," Brondello said.
The Opals were without experienced campaigners Marianna Tolo and Leilani Mitchell in Spain due to injuries with Brondello confident that the squad's younger player would benefit benefit from the exposure to elite competition.
"Sometimes things happen for a reason because we gave great experiences to a lot of players here," she said.
"The future of Australian basketball is in good hands because we are quite a young team."
Alanna Smith top-scored for the Opals in the final with 10 points while Alex Bunton and teenager Ezi Magbegor also made an impact.
Australian Associated Press