FIBA Women’s Asia Cup 2017: India defeat Kazakhstan to win Division B final, cash prize announced
The Division B final was a clash between two undefeated Division B teams, India and Kazakhstan. The two teams were meeting for the first time in the tournament. With the winner getting promoted to Division A for the next edition of the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup, both teams came out hungry for the victory.
Kazakhstan held the size advantage over the Indian team and this was punctuated by the play of Kazakh centre Nadezhda Kondrakova. She was able to score from inside and outside to begin the game. For India, the scoring came from a balanced team effort. Shireen was aggressive on her drives to the basket, while guards Paul Durai and Raspreet created space to knock down their jumpers.
Kazakhstan held a slim 3-point lead entering the second quarter and the built on it immediately. Tamara Yagodkina hit a couple of big triples in the second period to build on the Kazakh lead. Centre Kondrakova and forward Kurazova were attacking the boards for Kazakhstan, leading to multiple second chance opportunities. Kazakhstan ended the first half with another buzzer-beating triple and extended their lead to 8 points (39 to 31).
In the third quarter, the Kazakh offense continued to flow from bigs Kondrakova and Kurazova. But India slowly started to find their offensive rhythm. Shireen and Raspreet hit a couple of jumpers to give India some momentum. Debutante Grima Merlin came off the bench to provide an offensive spark with her strong drives to the basket. Shireen punched in a triple to end the third quarter, holding the Kazakh lead to 8 points again.
In the fourth, India began with a 6-0 run, with Paul Durai and Raspreet hitting a triple each. Grima followed it up with another shot from beyond the arc and the Kazakhs were thrown off their game. With the lead finally down to just one point, Jeena stepped up to give India the lead with a nifty move in the post. But Kazakh centre Kondrakova continued to fire, playing to her strengths in the post against the smaller Indian defenders. It all came down to the final minutes, when Kazakhstan arrested a 5-point lead, with a bucket from Kondrakova followed by a huge triple from forward Oxana Ossipenko.
But the Kazakh lead was soon cut down by a Shireen layup followed by a Jeena and-1 drive to the hoop. With the game tied at 71 apiece, both teams exchange buckets – Shireen from India and Oxana from Kazakhstan. There was 19 seconds left in the game and possession belonged to India with the ball in the hands of India’s MVP in the game, Shireen Limaye. Despite being a scambled play, Shireen managed to create space and hit a deep stepback jumper, putting India up with under a second left.
“All the hard work over the past 5 months paid off!” said India star Limaye after the thrilling victory. The Indian women’s basketball team has been elevated to Division A after winning the final. BFI President K Govindaraj has announced a cash prize of INR 15,00,000/- to the Indian squad.
India (Jeena Skaria 20 pts, Shireen Limaye 17 pts 10 rbs 6 asts, Grima Merlin Verghese 14 pts) bt Kazakhstan (Nadezhda Kondrakova 30 pts 18 rbs, Zalina Kurazova 17 pts, Oxana Ossipenko 8) 75-73 [16-19, 15-20, 19-19, 25-15]