The Indian women’s basketball team lost to the Philippines in the 7-8th classification match of the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup 2021 at Amman, Jordan on Thursday.
The result means India finish eighth, and bottom, in Division A and are now relegated to Division B – the lower tier of the continental event.
Earlier, India had lost all their Group A encounters against reigning champions Japan, South Korea and New Zealand to finish bottom of their group, which set up their 7-8th classification match against the Philippines who finished bottom of Group B.
India needed to win the match to stay up in Division A. Incidentally, India had also finished eighth in Division A in the last edition in 2019 but avoided the drop because of FIBA’s inability to organise a Division B event, the winner of which would have taken India’s spot in Division A.
Against the Philippines, the world No. 51 in the FIBA rankings, India, ranked 70th, started on the backfoot, going 5-0 behind early.
However, spurred on by sisters Pushpa Senthil Kumar and Sathiya Senthil Kumar, India hit back to end the first quarter with a 19-13 lead.
The second quarter saw the Philippines take the game to India but some fine display by Indian offensive players saw them claw back just a single point from the deficit.
But the Philippines only upped the tempo in the third quarter to outscore India by eight points and took back the reins of the match.
Trailing by three points going into the final quarter, the Indians threw the kitchen sink at their opponents but the experienced Philippines side held their ground to win the match 74-70.
Pushpa Senthil Kumar was the standout player for India with 15 points while her sister Sathiya chipped in with 12.
Philippines’ Ana Alicia Katrina Castillo and Janine Pontejos were joint top scorers of the match with 22 points each.