India outclass Lanka to seal finals berth

India outclass Lanka to seal finals berth

Hosts raise their play at the right time to post 84-44 victory in the last match

India outclass Lanka to seal finals berth

A 40-point win against Sri Lanka on the final day was just what the Indian basketballers needed to round off their campaign successfuly in the Middle Asia Zone qualifying tournament for the Asian under-18 championships.

India, who had defeated Nepal by 30 points in their first match and Bangladesh by 47 points in their second match, were impeccable in their 84-44 victory against the Lankans at the Sree Kanteerava stadium on Saturday.

With the win, India qualified for the final rounds of the Asian championships to be held in Yemen from September 22 to October 1. Sri Lanka, by virtue of an additional slot available in the Middle Asia Zone, also made it through. India and Sri Lanka will join Kazakhstan as qualifiers from the region.

The Kazakhs qualified following their second place finish in 2008 edition of the tournament.In the first match of the day, Bangladesh pulled off a 62-33 win over Nepal to finish third. The most highly anticipated match of the tournament, though, held no surprises.

Keeping in mind Sri Lanka’s distinctive disadvantage in height, coach Ram Kumar started with centre Amjyot Singh, lanky shooting guards-cum-power forwards Shadab Khan and Ajay Pratap Singh and worked the play around twin point guards Arjun Singh and Berdinent Carmel Joseph. The results were instantaneous. The fluid offensive formation helped India to end the first quarter with a 28-11 lead but it was their trap defence that made the difference.

With two defenders relentlessly pursuing the ball-handler Udayanga Perera and forcing the other four to one corner of the court, Sri Lanka’s ball movement, which is the base of their offence, took a hit. India made six turnovers in a span of six minutes in the second quarter. Turnovers were one thing but what really mattered, unlike in their previous matches where they converted very little, was that they made all of them count. With a couple of fast breaks from Arjun, skipper Dishant Singh and Amjyot, India ended the second quarter with a 56-20 lead.

Returning from a ten-minute break, the Lankan squad looked more compact. Banking on speed, Lanka scored a couple of baskets through power forward Madushanka Rathnayake and Udayanga Perera but India continued to score at the other end to extend their lead to 67-29. Lanka fought to the very last minute but the Indian boys were way too good.

After a month-long camp in Ludhiana, India will leave for Yemen on September 20.

Results: India: 84 (Arjun Singh 19, Dishant Singh 17, Ajay Pratap Singh 9) bt Sri Lanka: 44 (Madushanka Rathnayake 11, Clinton Stallone 9). HT: 56-20.
Bangladesh: 62 (Md Tareq Aziz 18, Md Shamsuzzaman Khan Soyab 17, Md Insun Mamum Khan 12, Md Mahmudul Hasan Shawn 10) bt Nepal: 33 (Ravi Giri 8). HT: 30-15.

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