FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers: India go down to Lebanon in final group game

Lebanon ended their FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers campaign with an all-win record. India will now head to the Final Qualifying Tournament.

By Naveen Peter

Lebanon recorded a 99-71 win over the Indian basketball team in the final Group D game of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers at the Khalifa Sports City in Manama, Bahrain on Monday.

The win helped Lebanon finish the qualifying round with an all-win record. While they have already sealed their place at the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup, India -- who finished third -- will head to the Final Qualifying Tournament next.

The Final Qualifying Tournament for the FIBA Asia Cup will see the six third-placed sides divided into two groups of three each, with the top two making it to the main event in Indonesia later this year.

With nothing to lose for both the teams, India and Lebanon chose to test their bench strength in their final group game.

Riding high on momentum following a thrilling win over Iraq on Saturday, the Indian hoopsters went toe-to-toe with Lebanon, a team ranked 15 places above them on the FIBA Rankings charts. India is ranked 73.

The experienced Aravind Annadurai continued from where he left off against Iraq, scoring baskets and feeding his team-mates with delightful lay-ups at will. The youngsters Muin Bek Hafeez, Amaan Sandhu and Prashant Singh Rawat made the most of the opportunities.

Joseph Chartouny top-scored for Lebanon with 24 points. Photo: FIBA Media

Though it was a back and forth affair for large parts of the opening half, Lebanon asserted their supremacy as the match panned out and opened a 10-point lead midway through the opening half.  

Youngsters Joseph Chartouny, Raphael Ezzeddine and Gerard Hadidian led the Lebanese attack with purpose and some top-notch drives to the paint that surprised the Indian head coach Veselin Matic

Though the Indian basketball team regrouped well soon after and mixed their defence to have the opponents in a tight spot, the Lebanese showed their class and found a way through by often double-teaming to ease their way to the basket. 

While Lebanon went into the half-time break with a seven-point advantage, they switched gears soon after to extend the lead to 21 points by the end of the third quarter. 

The Indian basketball team couldn’t keep up with Lebanon’s high tempo with the west Asian side dominating the proceedings for the remainder of the match.