Asian Basketball Championship: Narrow win for India U-18 girls

For India, captain Pushpa Senthil Kumar didn’t take the field as her injured ankle hadn’t sufficiently healed.

India will take on Guam on Monday.   -  Sampath Kumar G.P.

India huffed and puffed its way to a 73-65 victory over Iran on the opening day of FIBA U-18 Women’s Asian Championship at the Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium here on Sunday.

Led by Captain and forward Fatemah Ghazvini, who was easily the best player on display scoring 22 points, Iran came agonisingly close. With under two minutes left, India could only boast of a two-point lead at 64-62. But local girl Harshitha Bopaiah’s timely basket eased nerves before the host held on for the win.

For India, captain Pushpa Senthil Kumar didn’t take the field as her injured ankle hadn’t sufficiently healed. At the start, India didn’t seem to miss her too, as it was off to a brisk start going up 23-13 in the first quarter.

However, little did anyone expect things to unfold the way they did in the second. With a combination of fast breaks and rapid turnovers, Iran staged a stirring comeback with Ghazvini heavily involved, scoring 12 points in that 10-minute period.

Iran even went ahead 35-33 but a string of baskets by forwards Ishwarya Janardhanan and Sreekala Rani ensured India would be ahead at halftime (40-35).

Iran kept up with India in the third quarter as Zeinab Ghaffari and Negin Khameneh won 11 rebounds between them. Though it lacked the drive when Ghazvini was off the court, Iran reigned India in. In the final quarter, Khameneh put on a fine show of her offensive game (15 points) to run India close before being pipped at the end.

India will take on Guam on Monday.

Australia

Earlier, in Division A, while Australia ran out an easy victor beating Indonesia 96-28, Korea and Japan faced stiff competition from Chinese Taipei and New Zealand respectively.

The Japan-New Zealand contest, at one point, was on a knife’s edge after a spirited third-quarter comeback by the Tall Ferns turned a daunting 29-41 deficit to a wafer-thin 50-52. But Japan, led by small forward Nanko Todo’s nine points, was irrepressible in the final period, winning 77-62.   

The results:

Division A: Group A: Australia 96 (Isobel Anne Anstey 20, Ashley Hannan 12, Nnenna Agnes 12, Emma Clarke 11, Mela Goodchild 10) bt Indonesia 28; Korea 64 (Sohee Lee 16, Leeseul Shin 13, Haeran Lee 12) bt Chinese Taipei 56 (Pei Yi Lo 13, Yu-Chieh Chen 11)

Group B: China 102 (Chen Mingling 19, Yutong Liu 17, Yuyan Li 17, Zhu Dandan 11) bt Malaysia 28 (Sin Jie Tan 12); Japan 77 (Layla Takehara 15, Norika Konno 16, Nanako Todo 11) bt New Zealand 62 (Charlisse Leger-Walker 14, Charlotte Whittaker 23).

Division B: Group A: India 73 (Harshitha Bopaiah 15, Ishwarya Janardhanan 13, Sreekala Rani 17, Anumaria 11) bt Iran 65 (Fatemah Ghazvini 22, Negin Khameneh 15); Singapore 83 (Amanda Jia 18, Shuting Valentia 18, Tori Chua 10) bt Guam 35 (Mia San Nicolas 14);

Group B: Hong Kong 78 (Wing Nga Poon 22, Pui Ying Ho 13, Man Nga Shek 12) bt Samoa 50; Syria 56 (Anna Aghnanian 25, Noura Bshara 15) bt Kazakhstan 40 (Valeriya Motovilova 11).