Hapless hoopsters crash and burn

Hapless hoopsters crash and burn

Australia’s Ezi Magbegor (right) attempts to shoot past Pei Chen Tsai of Chinese Taipei during their FIBA Women’s Asia Cup Division A clash on Friday. DH PHOTO/ BH SHIVAKUMAR

India crashed out of Division A after falling to a 78-92 defeat to the Philippines in the 7th place playoff match of the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup basketball tournament at the Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium here on Friday.

The Zoran Visic coached side, who finished last in the competition, will compete in the lower Division B in the next edition of the biennial event. The Philippines will remain in the top tier and play in the FIBA Pre-Qualifying Olympic Tournament.

India, without a win in their previous three group games, needed to win to keep their place among Asia’s elite but defensive lapses coupled with lack of aggression on the floor led to their exit.

“In defence, we couldn’t stop their three-pointers, that was the main mistake,” admitted forward Shireen Limaye, India’s best performer in the event.

Since 2017, the Indian eves have participated in just three major international tournaments -- Williams Jones Cup (2018), Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. As part of their preparation, the women practiced against city school teams and men’s basketball clubs.

Devasted after the result, Limaye felt the lack of international competitions was the main cause of their downfall. “We haven’t had exposure trips before this tournament. We haven’t played any real matches. I say this because we’ve just played against the men’s, school and club teams but that was not really a match. That actually hurt us. The women’s league is coming up, let’s see,” lamented Limaye.

She revealed that the relegation battle against the Philippines was expected. “We knew who’s going to play and who is not. In the camp, we took into mind that we are going to play the Philippines and that’s how we planned it,” said Limaye.

The Philippines, however, had a different script in mind. They started brightly, going up 10-4 then 22-8. India did manage to add a few points through Navaneetha PU but the quarter ended with the Philippines on top of proceedings (28-16).

Determined to overturn the deficit the hosts came up with brilliant plays, which involved Limaye and Madhu Kumari, to cut the lead to just three points (38-41) at half-time.

Just when it appeared that India could snatch the advantage, with one point separating the sides (40-41), at the start of the third quarter, Philippines’ Ana Alicia Castillo and Ria Joy Nabalan came up with crucial three-pointers to take their team to safety (63-57).

The Philippines upped their ante in the last 10 minutes. Ana Alicia and Janine continued their scoring spree, much to the dismay to India, who seemed have given up as the game neared its end.

Janine finished with 18 points, including four three-pointers for the Philippines while Alicia contributed 15 -- all three-pointers. For India, Limaye scored a game-high 23 points while Navaneetha helped with 15.

Later, Australia powered past Chinese Taipei 90-51 to set-up a mouth-watering semifinal clash against Japan. South Korea, who defeated New Zealand 58-52, will take on China in the other last-four match.

Results: Quarterfinals: South Korea: 58 (Yuh An Youm 10, Leeseul Kang 13, Hyeyoon Bae 13) bt New Zealand: 52 (Penina Davidson 12); Australia: 90 (Bec Allen 15, Ezi Magbegor 13, Cayla George 12, Steph Talbot 11, Sara Blicavs 10) bt Chinese Taipei: 51 (W Chen 11, Ling Huang 11).   

7th place playoff match: Philippines: 92 (Ana Alicia Castillo 15, Janine Pontejos 18, Ria Joy Nabalan 13) bt India: 78 (Naveenatha PU 15, Shireen Limaye 23, Bhandavya HM 12, Jeena Skaria 10).

Semifinal line-up: Japan vs Australia (5:45 pm); China vs South Korea (8:00 pm).

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