|Thursday – January 23rd, 2014|
Play by Play
(*note that all four teams below have already qualified to Level 1 and these matches are being held for the sole purpose of granting the two winning teams the right to choose their pre-quarter final opponent from level 1)
Girls: Kerala 60 (Nivya Raj 20, Anusha 19) bt Maharashtra 53 (Shruti 21, Neha 12) [21-11, 13-17, 13-11, 13-14]
Team India. Photo courtesy: Basketball Federation of India
The Indian men’s team has begun its 2014 Lusofonia campaign on a winning note, comfortably brushing aside the challenge posed by relative minnows Guinea Bissou. All 12 Indian players took to the floor, with nine of them getting onto the scoreboard. India led for most of the match mainly due to its highly effective 2-3 zone defense. Guinea could score only 14 points in the restricted area. India’s size advantage also meant that it dominated the paint, scoring 34 easy points. Guards Narender Grewal and Pratham Singh top scored for India with 14 points each. Forwards Yadwinder Singh and Riken Pethani had identical all-round performances with 9 rebounds and 7 points each.
India, ranked 61st in the world, will now play against powerhouse Angola (ranked 15th) on Saturday, 25th January at 6:00 pm.
Blockathon! Defensive mastermind Yadwinder Singh and Amjyot Singh made it to our highlight reel tonight with their two thunderous blocks. Yadwinder showed great agility in rejecting a Guinea Bissou player at the three point line, which in turn led to a 24 second shot clock violation on Guinea Bissou’s part. Amjyot’s block was in transition, where he timed his jump perfectly to deny what looked like a near certain fast break opportunity for Guinea Bissou.
Barring the first five minutes of the match, it was all India’s way in this opening encounter against a team which is not even listed in the top 85 teams in the FIBA World rankings. India took the lead after trading a few baskets early on and kept building on it in each quarter.
HE SAID SHE SAID- I
“I think our 2-3 zone worked perfectly today and we managed to keep them out of the paint. I also thought that we hurt them in transition. We are a team that likes to run.”
– India’s Head Coach Scott Flemming, on the main reasons for the win.
“It’s fine. I think Goa deserves it. Goa is hosting this tournament. These are two great guys who fit in with us well. They haven’t worked out with us much but have been good for our team.”
– Coach Flemming, on why he played all 12 players on the team, especially the two local Goan players
“In the morning, in our pregame strategies we had anticipated that we’ll be playing against a quick team, but when the match started we realized that they seemed to prefer driving in. So we focused on our defense so that we limit their points in the paint.”
– India Captain Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, on his team’s main focus going into this game
HE SAID SHE SAID- II
On India’s next match against powerhouse Angola
“We are playing one of the best teams in the world. Angola is ranked 15th in the world so we just wanted to get this first win. Tomorrow is a rest day, so we’ll watch Angola play and try our very best to beat them. Our goal is to get the gold medal. We have to beat some very good teams to do it. Whether that happens on not, we’ll see.”
– Coach Flemming
“We will give it our best, more so since we are playing at home. I don’t know about their line up yet. We’ll see tomorrow.”
India’s substitutions & ball movement: Barring Sambhaji Kadam and Daley Fernandes, all other Indian players (all 10 of them in fact!) got onto the score board. Coach Scott Flemming’s revolving door substitution strategy meant that except for Sambhaji Kadam and the two local Goan players, every Indian player was on the floor for at least 10 mins or more. This is a great sign as the Indian bench is now tested and warmed up for the formidable challenge of playing against Angola, ranked 15th in the world.
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS
Spotted! The Indian women’s team led by Head Coach Francisco Garcia and Assistant Coach Divya Singh. Undoubtedly, they were keen on sizing up the Macau China team that they will play against tomorrow. They must be pleased by what they saw, considering that Macau China fell tamely to African side Mozambique.
Also Spotted! Railways’ veteran coach and one of Indian women basketball’s legends, the Dhyan Chand Awardee Aparna Ghosh! She was seen watching the match with great interest from high up in the stands.