FIBA Asia Cup 2022: Indian basketball team qualifies for the 10th timeAugust 24, 2021
India are among the 16 teams to qualify for the FIBA Asia Cup finals next year, scheduled to take place in Jakarta, Indonesia in July, 2022.
In the qualifying tournament which concluded at the King Abdullah Sports City Hall in Jeddah, India finished second with one win and a defeat in the three-team Group H to make their 10th appearance.
India had edged Palestine 79-77 on Saturday after losing their first match against the Saudis on Friday. Egged by a boisterous crowd, hosts Saudi Arabia secured first place when they won 96-72 against Palestine, who returned home without a win.
In the opener, India with a FIBA world ranking of 78, began their return to competitive basketball disastrously as they were swarmed by Saudis ranked 87th. Joginder Singh was the top scorer for India with 17 points and gave four assists while Amritpal Singh had nine rebounds.
In the second match, Palestine, ranked 83, jumped to a 25-13 lead at the end of the first quarter with Kyndall Dykes who plays for the Polish pro league on a scoring free. India, still smarting from the defeat suffered at the hands of Saudis, regrouped and mounted attacks in the next two quarters to take 23-21 and 16-15 lead. In the final and fourth quarter of the game, they led 14 points at one point of the time but Dykes rallied Palestinians and were tied 67-all at one point. With time running out, Palestine tried to stay in the game with three-pointers from Ahmed Haroon and Dykes, but a missed layup in the final seconds by Sani Sakakini left them short of agonising two points.
A clutch three-pointers from Gill and Joginder saved India while Sahaij Pratap Singh Sekhon’s tight defence throughout the match kept Dykes under leash. Veteran sharpshooter Joginder Singh, 33, Amritpal Singh and Amjyot Singh shared 65 points for India coached by Veselin Matic from Serbia. Amrtipal also has 12 rebounds while captain Vishesh Bhriguvanshi has seven assists.
The FIBA Asia Cup was originally scheduled to take place last week but was deferred due to the Covid-19 pandemic. India’s best-ever finish was fourth in the 1975 Bangkok edition. In their last appearance in 2017, India lost in the group stage.
BFI chief announces Rs 10 lakh for Indian cagers
Meanwhile, K Govindaraj, president of the Basketball Federation of India has on Monday announced a cash award of Rs 10 lakh for the Indian team for booking a place in the 2022 FIBA Asia Cup.
Scores: Saudi Arabia 80 (Khalid Gabar 17, Mohammed Alsuwailem 16) bt India 61 (Joginder Singh 17, Sahaij Pratap Singh Sekhon 15, Amritpal Singh 9, Muin Bek Hafeez 8, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi 6) quarter breakup:(20-8, 16-22, 20-16, 24-15); India 79 (Amritpal 30, Amjyot Singh 23, Joginder 12, Sahaij Sekhon 7) bt Palestine 77 (Kyndall Dykes 32, Sani Sakakini 22) quarter break up: (13-25, 23-21, 16-15, 27-16); Saudi Arabia 96 (Md Almarwani 17, Nassir Abo Jalas 15, Md Alsuwailem 12, Fahad Bela 12, Mathna Almarwani 12) bt Palestine 72 (Dykes22, Sani 20) quarter break up (27-15,32-14,25-22,12-21)