An Afghanistan player stretching his hamstrings before the match against Nepal. Afghanistan went on to secure a facile 78-20 win. Copyright: Gopalakrishnan R

An Afghanistan player seen stretching his hamstrings before the match against Nepal. Afghanistan went on to secure a facile 78-20 win. Copyright: Gopalakrishnan R

Summary

Nepal took on Afghanistan earlier this evening in a must win encounter as part of the South Asian Basketball Association (SABA) qualifiers. Only three SABA teams have registered in this tournament, where the winner qualifies to the FIBA Asia Basketball Championships (popularly known as ‘ABC’) to be held in Manila later in August. Nepal had already been soundly thrashed by India in their first game, so they had to pull off an improbable win against a formidable Afghanistan squad to stay alive in this tournament.

As it turned out, Afghanistan could care less about Nepal’s problems and seemed eager to inflict wounds of their own. Nepal struggled with a lack of bigs in their earlier match against India. This game was no different. Afghanistan enjoyed the services of taller, stronger and more skilled players in the front court. This match had a noticeably slower pace than the Nepal-India game. In the end, Afghanistan still won by a huge 58 point margin. Final scores read 78-20.

Thumbs Down

Nepal stopped fighting. One trait that had endeared Nepal to all those watching their inaugural match against India was that they kept fighting right till the final buzzer. In this game, however, they visibly lost steam in the second half. Maybe back to back games on consecutive days against stronger and more physical opponents took a toll on the players. In the second half, they missed easy open layups and air balled multiple field goal attempts.

He said she said

“We played well today. This was a good opportunity for our players to get into rhythm.”

–          Mohammad Rafiq, Head Coach, Afghanistan

Momentum Shift

This was the second match in a row where one side dominated from beginning to end. Nepal even went scoreless in the entire  second quarter. Quarter wise break up was all in favour of Afghanistan: 20-11; 36-11; 60-16; 78-20.

Relive the exciting moments of the game with our blow by blow commentary here.

Predictions on the upcoming India-Afghanistan match

“Tomorrow’s game is going to be different. India has more size than us, but as far as skill level is concerned the two teams are on par. We expect it to be a competitive game. Both teams have been working hard. It comes down to whichever team is playing better tomorrow.”

–          Mohammad Rafiq, Head Coach, Afghanistan

From what we could see today, Afghanistan seemed to play within themselves to conserve energy for their game against India. Although they won against Nepal with ease, their outside shooting leaves quite a bit to be desired. They also need to increase their efficiency in transition. Our prediction is that India will win by a 10-15 point margin and qualify from the SABA region for the FIBA Asia Championships.

India v. Afghanistan, Tuesday, June 4, 2013, 6:00 PM onwards. Venue: Tyagaraj Stadium, New Delhi (near INA Metro station). Entry is FREE.

Republished with permission from sportskeeda.com. The original post can be found here

Gopalakrishnan R
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