The Indian U16 boys’ team had its task cut out facing three-time defending champions China at the 4th FIBA Asia U16 Championship that tipped off in Jakarta, Indonesia earlier today. India started off neck and neck, trailing China 9-10 midway through the first period, but couldn’t sustain the momentum; as its consistent opponents went on to clinch the game 116-57.
While the Chinese lads got the opening win, their Asian neighbours had key positives of their own. Keeping the larger picture of qualifying to the next round in mind, Head Coach MS Rathore sensibly rotated the bench to give playing time to all 12 members of the squad. Three Indian players ended up with double digit scores, led by captain P Baladhaneshwar’s 18 points.
Point guard Manoj Sisodia showcased his defensive anticipation with 6 steals, which was the main reason behind India outperforming China in this statistical category (14-10). Sisodia, who is also the youngest player on the Indian team at 14 years of age, ended as India’s most efficient performer.
India next faces another strong team, when it takes on Democratic People’s Republic of Korea tomorrow afternoon at 4:30pm IST, followed by the final preliminary league match against Iraq.
India (P Baladhaneshwar 18 pts, Manoj Singh Sisodia 11 pts & 6 steals, Harshwardhan Tomar 11 pts) vs China (Rongqi Huang 22 pts, Rongzhen Zhu 14 pts, Yufeng Han 13 pts) 57-116 [21-33, 12-33, 12-
33, 12-27, 12-23]