The Indian Men's Basketball team finished third in the Asia pre-qualifiers in the Men's Basketball Paris Olympics 2024 qualifiers. India were grouped with Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, Indonesia and Syria. All the matches were played in Damascus, Syria.
Bahrain finished top of the group, and have entered the main qualifiers of the qualification tournament for the Paris 2024 Olympics. They will now play the stronger and bigger names in Asia to fight for a place in the Paris 2024 Olympics.
The Indian Men's Basketball side started with consecutive wins over Syria and Indonesia respectively, before going down to Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in the next three games.
Let's have a quick look at all the matches played by India in the pre-qualifiers.
Match 1: India 85-74 Syria
India started the qualiification campaign with a big win over hosts, Syria. The Indian Hoopsters took a quick 3-0 lead through Vishesh Bhriguvanshi against the Syrians, setting up the base for a splendid Indian victory. Kerala's Pranav Prince led the charge from the front for India and scored 21 points as the Men in Blue ran away winners against the hosts.
The win was particularly special since Syria are a much higher-ranked side when compared to India. Syria are ranked 72 in the world while the Indian side sit at the 82nd position.
Match 2: India 74-90 Indonesia
The Indian Basketball side continued their great initial run in the tournament as they comprehensively beat Indonesia in the second match. Indonesia took a quick 4-0 lead in the first quarter and India took eight minutes to register their first point of the match.
Pranav Prince opened the scoring for India with 2 points and the Blue Ballers steadily caught up with Indonesia and had a healthy 25-16 lead after the first quarter.
Former NBA center Marques Bolden from Cleveland Cavaliers was amongst the ranks in Indonesia, scoring a mammoth 23 points. Muin Bek Hafeez scored 15 points for India as the South Asians raced away as comfortable victors.
Match 3: India 70-73 Kazakhstan
India succumbed to their first defeat of the tournament to 65th ranked, Kazakhstan on Matchday three. Kazakhstan started on a fierce note, scoring 9 straight points in the first quarter.
The Men in Blue opened the scoring through Arvind Krishnan in the first quarter but never managed to catch up with the Central Asians throughout the game. India's Krishnan went on to score 18 points in the tie, but it was not enough as Kazakhstan ran away winners with a slender margin.
Match 4: India 75-92 Saudi Arabia
India lost their second game on the trot to 68th ranked Saudi Arabia in the fourth match. Saudi Arabia scored the first 2 points of the game before Aravind Annadurai scored 3 points to take India ahead.
Saudi Arabia showed promise and accuracy with their chances, and quickly raced on to a 52-30 lead at half-time. The Men in Blue scored more points than Saudi Arabia in the third and fourth quarter each but it was not enough to bridge the gap between the two teams on the scorecard. India's leading scorer was Amaan Sandhu with 14 points.
Match 5: India 66-79 Bahrain
Muin Bek Hafeez opened the scoring for the India Basketball side in the first quarter against Bahrain and a quick attacking approach resulted in a healthy 24-17 lead at the end of the first quarter for India.
However, Bahrain hit back hard and dominated all three remaining quarters to script a quality comeback victory against India. Sahaij Sekhon was the highest scorer for the Indian Basketball side against Bahrain. The win ensured Bahrain going through to the next round as group winners while India finish third.