NEW DELHI, India (27th FIBA Asia Championship): India became the 14th team to book their place for the 27th FIBA Asia Championship exactly 48 hours before the draw for the Preliminary Round is set to take place for the biggest event in FIBA Asia calendar at the host city of Manila (Philippines).
India scored the first 7 points of the needle game in the South Asian Basketball Association (SABA) qualifying round against Afghanistan and only grew in strength and confidence as the game progressed to post a surprisingly facile 64-46 victory at the Tyagraj Stadium on Tuesday to book their ticket to Manila.
Youngsters Joginder Singh and Amjyot Singh led the Indian barrage with 13 points each with seasoned campaigner Vishesh Bhriguvanshi adding 10 points.
Nafi Mashriqi was the most conspicuous Afghan on court and had a game-high 15 points.
“Well, we have qualified. That was the first target,” said India coach Scott Flemming at the helm of affairs for the team for the first in an international competition.
“We certainly can get a lot better, but this is a start,” the American said adding that rebounding was a key area of concern for the team.
“We are way off the mark as far as our defensive rebounding concerned. But I’m glad the defense is coming together,” he said.
“This was our first international competition in more than eight months,” Bhriguvanshi said.
“We lost to a better team. There’s no doubt in that,” reflected Afghanistan coach Mamo Rafiq after leading the team in their first ever international competition.
India had beaten Nepal 109-26 and Afghanistan had carried a 78-20 win over Nepal on the first two days of the competition.
India will join 13 more teams from various FIBA Asia Sub Zones in the pot for the draw which is scheduled for 1330 Hrs Manila time on Thursday. Two more teams from South East Asia will join the fray at the end of the 10th SEABA Championship to be played in Medan (Indonesia) from Jun 20-23.
The teams qualified so far
Hosts: Philippines. East Asia: China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea. South Asia: India. Central Asia: Kazakhstan. Gulf: Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar. West: Iran, Jordan, Lebanon.