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FIBA U-18 3x3 World Cup 2023: India finish third, fail to make quarterfinals

Published at :September 3, 2023 at 2:00 AM
Modified at :February 23, 2024 at 8:10 PM
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(Courtesy : #IndiaBasketball Twitter)

Kevin Somani

The young Cagers registered two wins in the competition.

The Indian men’s basketball team finished third in Pool D at the FIBA U-18 3×3 World Cup 2023. The young Cagers made history by winning two matches overall in the tournament but eventually missed out on securing a place in the quarterfinals.

Starting with the first two matches, India lost to Ukraine and Latvia by 18-16 and 21-13 respectively but made an exceptional comeback to win the next two matches against pool toppers Israel (21-19) and Kyrgyzstan (21-7). India concluded their second-ever appearance on the world stage with a commendable third-place finish, amassing a total of 71 points.

India’s performance at FIBA U-18 3×3 World Cup 2023

Ukraine 18-16 India

In the first game against Ukraine, India showed aggressiveness since the start and opened the scoring through a dunk from Kushal Singh. The game was a constant back-and-forth for both teams, with neither gaining significant momentum. It was a physical affair, with both teams recording more than six fouls.

Similar to the U-16 boys, this Indian U-18 team showed the preference for driving to the basket fearlessly. The initial part of this strategy was executed effectively, but they struggled with the second part. The game remained tied at 10-10 until Ukraine gained a quick three-point advantage, courtesy of Bohdan Malich.

Ukraine: Bohdan Malich (10 points), Nazar Korol (7 points)

India: Kushal Singh (7 points), Harsh Dagar (6 points), Lokendra Singh (3 points)

Latvia 21-13 India

India next faced the fourth-seeded Latvia, whose senior team had already made waves at the FIBA World Cup. They gave a hard time to India as well. In the first three possessions, India nearly committed the cardinal sins of turnovers – poor ball handling, a missed shot, and a block. Without intending to be overly critical, India clearly failed to set the tone from the beginning.

Lokendra Singh (Courtesy: FIBA)

Kushal Singh’s dunk was a highlight, an absolute showstopper! Following Lokendra’s elegant finger roll, the score was levelled at 4-4. Shortly after, Latvia initiated a 9-1 run, with Edvards Egle accounting for six of those crucial points. The interesting point came when Latvia were a point away from winning, and India went from 20-7 to 20-13 and could’ve been up by 20-15 if Kushal’s perimeter shot went in.

Latvia: Jānis Censonis (7 points), Edvards Egle (5 points), Toms Salnājs (5 points), Kristians Pastors (4 points)

India: Harsh Dagar (5 points), Lokendra Singh (4 points), Kushal Singh (3 points)

India 21-19 Israel

India had lost two consecutive matches prior to facing Israel, who were on a two-match winning streak – with victories over Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine. Lokendra started the proceedings with an under-basket shot, and then India threw a barrage of long shots till the Cagers reached 11-4, all happening in just two minutes.

Israel swiftly closed the gap as Roe Avneri contributed six crucial points, narrowing the margin to just one point, resulting in a score of 12-11. It was an exhilarating start, and no one thought India’s pent-up frustration would lead to such a turnaround. Kushal Singh continued his great game, taking some good shots from both inside and outside.

The table leaders did tie the game for a brief period before India ensured a triumphant finish with Harsh Dagar and Lokendra Singh sealing the victory with impressive tough lay-ups.

India: Kushal Singh (9 points), Lokendra Singh (7 points), Harsh Dagar (5 points)

Israel: Roe Avneri (10 points), Shachar Doron (6 points)

India 21-7 Kyrgyzstan

In the decisive final game, India secured an effortless win, ultimately determining their position as the third best team in the pool table. This was Kyrgyzstan’s second defeat, where they scored in single digits — certainly not good performance for a team that entered the tournament as the fifth seed.

Harsh Dagar and Jaideep Rathore were the standout performers for India, with Harsh contributing eight points and Jaideep adding six to the score. India had a couple of scoring streaks and once they had established an early lead, it was a mere formality to reach the 21 points mark.

India: Harsh Dagar (8 points), Jaideep Rathore (6 points), Kushal Singh (4 points), Lokendra Singh (3 points)

Kyrgyzstan: Amir Rustamov (4 points), Adil Zheenaliev (3 points)

The ‘Band of Brothers’ (Courtesy: FIBA)

Final thoughts

India displayed an exceptional level of unity. The camaraderie among the players was evident during timeouts, as they not only understood their own strengths and weaknesses but also those of their teammates. As Coach Matic emphasized, his focus was on incorporating more younger players into the team. It wouldn’t be surprising to see these four individuals leading the way for India in the future.

Upcoming Indian basketball action

The Indian basketball team will next be in action at the upcoming U-16 Asian Championship in Qatar, which will take place from September 17 to 24. The Indian U-16 boys were among the two teams that qualified from the SABA region.

India will also play in the upcoming Asian games, where the senior women’s team will compete in 5×5 while both men and women teams will represent the country in 3×3. Lokendra Singh will be part of the 3×3 men’s team.