|Tuesday – July 15th, 2014|
|FINAL. IRAN WINS.|
Video credits: FIBA
Venue: Wuhan Sports Centre Gymnasium, Wuhan (China). Entry is Paid.
Wuhan (China): For a while, it seemed like the Cinderella story would continue, that India’s group of determined young basketball players would shock another Asian giant. But despite a halftime lead, India couldn’t withstand the pressure by Asian champions Iran any longer, who bounced back in the physical contest to secure a 62-49 win on Tuesday, July 15.
This was India’s last game in the Preliminary Round stage of the 5th FIBA Asia Cup at the Wuhan Sports Center in Wuhan, China. The loss found India finishing their group games with a 2-2 record and heading to the Quarter-Finals still brimming with confidence.
On paper, Iran were perhaps the toughest competition that India would face all tournament. They featured the 7-foot-2 Hamed Haddadi, the best player in Asia at the moment, the first Iranian to play the NBA, and the MVP of last year’s FIBA Asia Championship. Iran have also been the holders of the last two major Asian tournaments, the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship and the 2012 FIBA Asia Cup.
Yet, India, buoyed by their strong performances against China and Indonesia in earlier days, showed no fear. India started off the game strong on the defensive end, holding a seven point lead in the first quarter, denying any space to Haddadi, and stretching their lead out to 12 midway through the second period.
But soon, the tables turned. India’s Vishesh Bhriguvanshi suffered an ankle injury, and although he returned to the game, he failed to be quite as effective. Haddadi began to heat up and started dominating India with inside scoring, timely passes, and on the offensive glass. Haddadi’s efforts were part of Iran’s overall dominance over India on the boards, where they had a 40-23 advantage.
Iran took the lead for good in the third quarter with stifling good defense on the Indians and they made no more mistakes en route to their 13 point victory.
As always, Haddadi was Iran’s difference-maker with 16 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists. Iran’s young up-and-coming star Arsalan Kazemi added 13 points and 8 rebounds to his team’s efforts. India’s star man was Amjyot Singh, who was the leading scorer in the game with 17.
“We played great 15 minutes of basketball in the first half, especially on the defensive end,” said India’s Head Coach Scott Flemming after the game, “But we never quite recovered from [Vishesh Bhriguvanshi’s injury]. They were real physical from us and we didn’t respond well with that. We gave the ball up, either that or we took bad shots.”
“We’ll probably face a top team [in the Quarter Finals,” Flemming added, looking ahead in the tournament, “But obviously, we’re improving. We beat China and this wasn’t an easy game for Iran by any means. I think we’ve proved we belong. I don’t think there’s anybody here that we feel we can’t beat. But on the other hand, there are plenty teams here that if we don’t play our top game, they’ll beat us. But… Now we’re going into every game knowing that we got an opportunity, and whether we do it nor… We know we’re a good team, we belong here, we’re going into the Quarter Finals… It’s a new day for India!”
India will finish either third or fourth in their group, depending on Japan’s finish against Indonesia. They will figure out their Quarter-Final rivals later tonight, after the last round of games from Group B.
Final Score: Iran (Hamed Haddadi 16, Arsalan Kazemi 13) bt. India (Amjyot Singh 17) 62-49 (13-20, 13-9, 18-7, 14-13). Box Score
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]