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FIBA Asia Cup 2025 Qualifiers

FIBA Asia Cup 2025 Qualifiers: Kazakhstan fend off India’s spirited performance

Published at :February 24, 2024 at 12:30 AM
Modified at :February 24, 2024 at 12:30 AM
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(Courtesy : FIBA)

Kevin Somani

Arvind Kumar Muthu Krishnan dished out 17 points for the visitors.

The first window of the FIBA Asia Cup 2025 Qualifiers is in full swing: India’s first game against Kazakhstan did not end well with a score of 63-50. Rustam Murzagaliyev scored 18 points, the team’s only player to score double-digit points, while the rest of the players contributed from the three-point line. Arvind Kumar Muthu Krishnan’s late surge got him to score 17 points, five steals, and eight rebounds for India.

Last time out, when the Indian basketball team played Kazakhstan in the FIBA Pre-Olympic qualifiers, the game ended with a score of 70-73, with Kazakhs edging out in the final moments. This game had a different story, though.

India started out strong by showing their intent on defense. They shut down their opponents with the Kazakhs shooting 12% of their field goals. Meanwhile, India, thanks to Palpreet Singh Brar’s dominant start, got a lead of 13-16 in the first quarter.

The first quarter shot chart of India (blue) vs Kazakhstan (yellow). India relied on their interior scoring, while the Kazakhs did not shoot from either side. (Courtesy: FIBA)

In the second quarter, the momentum slowly tilted towards Kazakhstan as India went on a cold shooting run, making only one of the first five shots. Their opponents weren’t good either but were slowly crawling back and taking the game away from the visitors. India’s shooting plateaued, and Kazakhs gradually built up on their mid-range shooting to end the first half with a 31-26 lead.

Kazakhstan scored 18 points in the second quarter to get a lead of 31-26. (Courtesy: FIBA)

India’s third quarter has always been strong usually, but in this game, the Cagers’ third-quarter magic vanished as they managed to score only seven points. The team only scored two baskets in that quarter.

The game was characterized more by poor shooting from both teams than tough defense. Kazakhstan committed 17 turnovers, while India lost possession 20 times. Interestingly, out of Kazakhstan’s 17 turnovers, only nine were steals. Additionally, India’s bench contributed seven points, whereas Kazakhstan’s bench scored 31 points.

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Aravind Kumar Muthu Krishnan scored eight of his 17 points in the fourth quarter. (Courtesy: FIBA)

There were moments when players showed off their skill by playing one-on-one, which coach Veselin Matic even agreed to during a time-out in the third quarter when he told the team, “We can finish it on one-on-one.” Aravind’s euro step, Pranav Prince’s posterizing dunks, and Palpreet’s physicality gave hope that India were still in the game in the latter stages.

The fourth quarter witnessed it, as players made it clear they were not going out without a hard fight, especially Aravind Kumar Muthu Krishnan. He scored eight of his 17 points and dished out two assists in the fourth quarter. But Kazakhstan by then had already distanced themselves and dropped the daggers closer to the end of the game to kill any hopes of India coming back.

India now heads home to welcome Iran, a tough opponent, on Monday (February 26). A defeat seems evident after today’s performance, but with the home advantage, the Cagers won’t let Iran go away with an easy victory.

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