The Indians began with a crushing defeat in their tournament opener on Monday.

The Indian women’s basketball team started their FIBA Women’s Asia Cup 2021 campaign on a rocky note as they were defeated by Japan. The Japanese women are also the defending champions who completely dominated the match, winning by a 46-136 scoreline. In their second game, India will face Asian powerhouse South Korea and hope for a positive outcome.

India face South Korea on September 28, 2021 at the Prince Hamza Hall in Amman, Jordan. The Young Cagers will be hoping to display an improved performance when they meet the South Korean women’s team. They need to find a way to finish among the top two places in Group A to have any chance to qualify into the semi-finals of the Asia Cup. Apart from Japan and South Korea, India will also be facing New Zealand later in the group stages.

There will be a lot at stake as the tournament is also a qualifier for the upcoming 2022 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup in Australia. Only the top-four teams will make it through, therefore qualifying for the semi-finals is imperative. 

India

Indian women’s basketball team’s best performance at the Asia Cup was a fifth place finish in 2013. They finished at the top of Division B in the 2017 edition and played against superior opposition during the Asia Cup 2019 edition, both held in India.

To be fair to the Young Cagers, Japan were heavy favourites to win in the previous game. They are the defending champions and recently won the silver medal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The 90-point differential would certainly be a cause for concern for the Indian camp though. 

Zoran Visic needs to motivate the players to put the defeat in the past and focus on the upcoming challenges. The tactician will be relying on Pushpa Senthil Kumar, who was the best performer for India against Japan. She scored 11 points in the game. 

South Korea

The South Korean women’s basketball team is ranked 19th in the world. The outfit finished third at the 2015 FIBA Asia Women’s Championship and have gradually improved in the last couple of years. They won the 2020 FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournaments in Belgrade, Serbia. 

They will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing outing during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The outfit lost all three of their Group A matches against teams like Spain, Serbia and Canada.

However, unlike their next opponents, South Korea have started their FIBA Asia Cup campaign brightly as they defeated New Zealand 85-69 on Monday.

Head to Head

South Korea has managed to defeat India in each of their last five meetings. The first one was at the 2009 FIBA Asia Championships for Women where Koreans won by a 102-46 scoreline. The second, third and fourth meetings came during 2011, 2013 and 2015 editions of the aforementioned tournament, where the Koreans won by 83-47, 109-62 and 121-44 points respectively.

The last meeting between India and South Korea came in 2019 FIBA Women’s Asia Cup Division A where the Koreans won by a 97-62 scoreline. 

Venue

West Asia is playing hosts to the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup for the first time. This is a big occasion for Jordan, who are working to develop women’s basketball in the country. The region needs more basketball exposure and the successful organisation of the tournament will go a long way in helping.

Matches will be played at the Prince Hamza Hall and the first few fixtures went smoothly with state of the art facilities available.  

Player to Watch

Park Hye-jin (South Korea)

Park Hye-jin is one of the players to watch out from the South Korean roster. The 31-year-old plays as a guard and is an experienced figure in the team. Coach Lee Moon-kyu will be relying on the veteran to lead by example in the match against India.

Park Hye-jin plays for Asan Woori bank Wibee, a team that plays in the Women’s Korean Basketball League in South Korea. She will be an obvious source of threat for the Indian women who will need to come up with a strategy to contain her. 

Squads

India

Vaishnavi Yadav, Sruthi Arvind, Stephy Nixon, Sathiya Senthil, Navaneetha Pattemane, Sreekala Rani, Anumaria Chenganamatthathil, Shireen Limaye, Sahana Shivamogga, Pushpa Senthil, Madhu Kamari, Nishanthi Masumamani

South Korea

Shin Jihyun, Yoon Yebin, An Heji, Choi Isaem, Park Hyejin, Park Jihyun, Kang Leeseul, Yang Inyoung, Bae Hyeyoon, Kim Danbi, Jin An

Where to watch

The India Vs South Korea FIBA Women’s Asia Cup will be streamed on the official FIBA Youtube Channel on September 28, 2021 at 3:30 pm IST.

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