The India men’s basketball team began their FIBA Asia Cup campaign with a 54-101 loss to continental powerhouse Iran.
India started off on a bad note during Wednesday evening’s match and trailed 8-29 in the first quarter. From there on, the deficit continued to grow as Iran outscored India in every quarter.
Iran, placed 25th in the FIBA world rankings, showcased their offensive abilities in a clinical performance. They were shooting the ball at an impressive 51 per cent and had five players finish the game scoring in double figures.
Iran’s centre Hamed Hadadi, who has played in the NBA, was at his imposing best against India, top scoring with 20 points and dishing out 8 assists.
For India, Amjyot Singh Gill was the only player who broke double figures with 10 points. India will hope to tighten up its game on both ends of the floor if it has to qualify for the second phase of the tournament.
The Indian hoopsters will now take on 28th ranked Jordan on Friday before ending the group stages against Syria on August 13.
Meanwhile, strong contenders Philippines defeated China 96-87. It was the first game of their campaign for China, the most successful team in this tournament with 16 titles.
China head coach Du Feng fielded a line-up which included Guo Ailun, Liu Xiaoyu, Zhou Peng, Ren Junfei and Han Dejun during the match on Wednesday evening.
In the beginning, China tipped off and got possession, getting two points in as many minutes. But five fouls in less than three minutes meant that China trailed after the first quarter 16-26.
China did no better in the second quarter. At the end of the first half, China were 14 points behind the Philippines. In the second half, Du Feng managed an oppressive defence.
China caught up and nearly levelled the score at the end of the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, China continued to stay on the offensive, and took a one-point lead. However, their lead did not last long as the Philippines equalised again before winning it by nine points.
For China, Guo Ailun got 18 points, Zhou Peng scored 17 and Hu Jinqiu added 13.
“We got well prepared before the games. We also predicted the result. As it’s known to all, we have only four players who had joined the Asian Men’s Championship. The rest of the players played in this kind of competition for the first time, and lacked the psychological qualities needed,” Du Feng said.
“We lost the best time at the beginning. At the second half our players’ attitude improved. We were hopeful that we could win the game, but made too many fouls.”
In other matches, Iraq and Jordan won their respective matches. Iraq won their game against Qatar 75-66. Syria fell narrowly to Jordan 66-68.
The FIBA Asia Cup will be held from August 8-20 with 16 teams participating. China will next play their group games against Qatar on August 11 and Iraq on August 13.