FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers: India posts morale-boosting win over Iraq

Vishesh Bhriguvanshi against Iraq in the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers. (Image credit:
Vishesh Bhriguvanshi against Iraq in the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers. (Image credit:

Baghdad, Iraq: After a heartbreaking one-point loss to Bahrain in the opening game of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers, India beat Iraq 94-75 to end the first window with a 1-1 record.

This was arguably the Indian men's national team's first win at the FIBA Asian continental level in almost three-and-a-half years. Its previous victory had come against Chinese Taipei at the 2016 FIBA Asia Challenge way back on 18th September 2016!

Facing Iraq away in Baghdad, India could seemingly do no wrong. It built up an early 11-3 lead on the back of some sloppy defense by the Iraqis. Thereafter, the hosts brought it back to 21-26 at the end of the first quarter.

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India's offense was on song, as the entire team shot collectively over 50% from the field, including nearly 60% (10/17) from the three-point line. India's frontline of center Amritpal Singh and power forward Aravind Annadurai dominated in the paint, combining for 43 points and 18 rebounds between them.

Not to be left behind, India's three guards Muin Bek Hafeez, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi and Joginder Singh also scored in double digits.

The 23-year-old Muin Bek impressed yet again, leading all scorers with 24 points, 8 assists, and 8 rebounds, to finish with a whopping +32 efficiency.

India led by 13 midway through the second quarter, before Iraq rediscovered their mojo to trail 41-47 at halftime. With 6:44 minutes left in the third period, Iraq brought it within four points, 48-52, before India went on another 22-12 run to enter the final frame with a decisive 75-60 lead.

At this point, India Head Coach Veselin Matic finally felt confident enough to rest his two starters Amritpal Singh and Vishesh Bhriguvanshi to give bench players Princepal Singh and Prasanna Venkatesh some much needed minutes.

The final quarter proved to be a mere formality, as India outscored Iraq 19-14 to seal the emphatic win.

The second window of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers will be held in November, with India playing against Lebanon (on 26th) and Bahrain (on 29th).

You can watch the full India vs Iraq game here:


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