Indian basketball team keeps FIBA Asia Cup ambitions alive with qualifiers win over Palestine

If Saudi Arabia beat Palestine in the qualifying match on Sunday, India will qualify for next year’s FIBA Asia Cup.

By Rahul Venkat
Picture by FIBA Media

The Indian basketball team beat Palestine 79-77 in the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Group H final round qualifiers match in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Saturday to keep their hopes of making it to next year’s main event alive.

India now have three points and sit top of Group H. They had lost to Saudi Arabia on Friday.

India’s qualification to the FIBA Asia Cup in Jakarta, Indonesia, next year now rests on the result of the Saudi Arabia vs Palestine match on Sunday. With the top two sides progressing to the main event, India will be hoping for a Saudi Arabia victory.

However, if Palestine beat Saudi Arabia, then all three teams will be level on points. In that case, the two teams who have scored the most aggregate number of baskets in their two games will then progress to the FIBA Asia Cup 2021.

It was an even start to the game as both teams traded early baskets, with Amjyot Singh Gill and Amritpal Singh scoring for India.

Palestine then responded with Kyndall Dykes and Sani Sakakini and took a 25-13 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Indian basketball team had more joy going forward in the second quarter.

Though Amritpal Singh failed to convert two free throws early in the quarter, captain Vishesh Bhriguvanshi and Joginder Singh were more involved as India slowly reduced the deficit and went into half-time trailing 36-46.

India continued to chip away in the third quarter but were unable to overhaul Palestine’s score and went into the final quarter down 52-61.

The fourth quarter saw India at its attacking best as they moved forward with purpose. Amjyot Singh Gill ran the offense and India finally drew level 67-67 with three and a half minutes left.

Palestine then called for a timeout to stem India’s momentum but Bhriguvanshi and Co. finally took the lead with two minutes to go after Amritpal Singh won a foul and scored both his free throws.

Amjyot Singh Gill’s three-pointer then gave India a seven-point lead at 76-69 and despite a late flurry by Palestine, they clung on to claim the win.