FIBA U18 Asian Championship: India Get First Win of the Tournament, Advance to the Playoffs
The Indian U18 squad is headed to the knockout rounds of the FIBA Asian Championship after they sealed a dominant 100-59 victory over their Syrian counterparts.
The squad played three games in three days, all teams from their group, and finished with a record of 1-2, losing their two games against Chinese Taipei (World Rank - 31) and Korea (World Rank - 16). The Indians, ranked 48th in the world, now advance to the Quarterfinals as the third seed in Group D are all set to face the second-seed in Group C, which will most likely be New Zealand.
Here's a short recap of the tournament so far for the young lads:
Game 1 Vs Chinese Taipei
This one was a heartbreaker. After three-quarters of the game, the Indian lads led by 8 points but couldn't continue the effort in the fourth and final quarter. A late run by the Chinese Taipei saw the Indians getting outscored 27-16 in the final period, enough to lose the game by a painful margin of just 3 points.
Princepal Singh was the best player in the game with his box score reading 17 points, 15 rebounds and 5 blocks. Rajeev Kumar, the highest scorer from the SABA Qualifiers, put up only 12 on 5-of-19 shooting (26.3%). The other starting guard - Arvind Kumar Muthu Krishnan - did a little bit of everything shown by his 13 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals but he had as many as 15 turnovers - almost equal to as many committed by the entire Chinese Taipei team (16).
Game 2 Vs Korea
Going up against the 16th ranked team in the World wasn't going to be easy and that showed in the team's margin of defeat - 39 points. Despite the margin, it was easily one of the best games the team played.
Rajeev Kumar, who had exploded for 26 points per game in the SABA Championships, went off against Korea for 40 points and 7 assists on 53.6% shooting from the field. In the process, he knocked all of the team's 9 3s at a 45% clip. Princepal Singh provided good support with his 24 points and 7 rebounds on 62.5% shooting.
Alas, the Koreans were just too good. They assisted on 41 of their 57 field goals while shooting at an efficient clip of 55.9%. As many as seven players scored in double digits for the Koreans, led by Hyunjung Lee - 30 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals.
Game 3 Vs Syria
This was a do-or-die game for both teams. With both Syria and India, both losing their first two games of the tournament, it was winner takes all in the final group fixture between the two teams. Given their world ranks, there was an obvious dip in talent that India was facing.
Syria is ranked 62nd in the world, 14 spots behind India. Right from tip-off, it didn't seem like a contest and India ran away with the game in the first quarter itself, when they outscored Syria 27-13. Guard Rajeev Kumar was the star for a second consecutive game, erupting for 32 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 7 steals on 57.1% shooting from the field.