• India started its campaign on a strong footing by beating hosts Maldives 84-42. Centre Amritpal Singh top scored for India with 25 points and 8 rebounds.
  • India’s next match is against Sri Lanka.
  • The winners of the South Asian Basketball Association (SABA) Championship will qualify for the FIBA Asia Cup taking place in Lebanon in August this year.
  • The winner also ensures qualification for its country’s top club team in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup – a tournament where the premier club teams of Asian countries go head to head.
  • India are defending champions and favourites looking to complete a five-peat. Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are the biggest threats to India’s five-peat.

Male/Bengaluru, 20th May 2017: The 5th South Asian Basketball Association (SABA) Championship tipped off yesterday at 5:30 PM IST in Male, Maldives as Bangladesh took on Nepal in what was expected to be a close encounter. The second game of the night saw the hosts Maldives taking on title-favourites India at 9:30 PM IST.

India beat Maldives 84-42

India centre and star Amritpal Singh scored 25 points and dominated the paint against a much smaller Maldives front court. Image credits: Basketball Federation of India

India started its title defence against hosts Maldives and steamrolled to a 84-42 win on the back on centre Amritpal’s 25 points and 8 boards. India shot a quality 45.9% (34/74) from the field and shut down the Maldives offence who shot a mere 24.2% (16/66) from the field.

India got off to an early lead by using its size advantage against a rather small Maldives line up. “Feeding the big men and scoring from the paint was the team’s game plan,” said Amritpal Singh – the game’s leading scorer. India even displayed its defensive prowess by suffocating the Maldives offence with their 2-1-2 zone defence. The score at the end of the quarter was 22-3 in favour of India.

Once India established its lead, the game seemed to get on autopilot for the defending champs. India began shooting the ball from the outside and often beat Maldives by its ball movement. Coach S Baskar used the lead to rotate his entire squad and each man off the bench played as hard on defence. “The younger guys got quality minutes and played impressively,” said Singh. “Once we had the lead, it was easy for the guys coming in off the bench to get into the game and make shots.” Anil Kumar BK was India’s second leading scorer with 10 points. For the hosts, Zilaal Mohamed was their only player in double digits with 12 points.

India faces Sri Lanka next on 21st May while Maldives plays Nepal on 20th May.

India (Amritpal Singh 25, Anil Kumar BK 10) bt Maldives (Zilaal Mohamed 12, Haleem Hussain 7) 84-42 [22-3, 24-12, 22-13, 16-14]

Jason D’souza
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