The Young Cagers were defeated by Gulf nation 61-80 on Friday night.
A dominating affair on Friday night saw the Saudi Arabia basketball team defeating India 61-80 at the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers. The Indian basketball team failed to provide a solid answer to the Gulf nation’s prowess as they were far from their best. The 80 points scored by the Arab side could have been much worse as the subcontinent’s players failed to land their shots from inside the arc by the intense pressure put forth by the opposition.
The standard of the game was set within the first quarter itself. Saudi Arabia dominated the paint with Indian big man Amritpal Singh bullied with ease at the post. Mohammed Alsuwailem was spectacular for the Saudi squad, who notched a brilliant double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
He also put forth a memorable effort on the defensive end against Amritpal Singh, notching five blocks during the encounter. The Saudi Arabian star shot a brilliant 77.78% from the field while also draining both his free throws. India trailed at the end of the first quarter by 12 with the score tending to the Gulf nation 20-8.
The second quarter saw a revamped Indian side. Led by Joginder Singh and Sahaij Sekhon, the Indians fought hard using their outside shooting to combat the inside Saudi force. Joginder finished with 17 points with 50% shooting from behind the arc while Sekhon hit the bottom of the net with three of his four attempts.
The latter was particularly impressive and was the only Indian regular to notch a positive plus-minus rating for most of the duration of the game. The half-ended with a brilliant steal from Sekhon and the lead was cut to six.
The third quarter against Saudi Arabia proved to be harder for India. The Gulf players outrebounded India easily, on both sides of the court. Saudi Arabia finished with 48 rebounds which included a whopping 16 offensive rebounds.
The final nail in the coffin for India was their 2-point shooting. The Indians, as a group, only managed to hit 11 of their 38 two-point attempts, at a pathetic 28.95% accuracy. Amritpal Singh (2/10) and Amjyot Singh Gill (1/5) lead the charts in these wasted attempts. The former had a particularly forgettable evening with almost everything working against him.
The Saudis on the other hand, rode on their brilliant 2-point shooting (25 of 47 attempts at a 53.19 clip). That was the defining characteristic of their game in the second half as well with Khalid Abdel Gabar using his speed and flair to find the basket. His driving layups seemed unstoppable at times and he ended the game with 17 points on 7 of 16 shooting, with a 54.55% from inside the arc. His performance pushed the team’s lead further ahead, entering into double digit territory.
Saudi Arabia looked to be running away with the game with a 25-point lead late in the fourth quarter and their starters got their well-deserved rest. Meanwhile, India managed to salvage some lost points against Saudi Arabia, ending the game with a lopsided score of 61-80.
The Indian basketball team will be looking to give themselves a chance at qualification for the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 against Palestine on Saturday. A loss against Palestine will end of the campaign for the Indians. Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, will get a day’s rest as they get ready to face Palestine on Sunday.