FIBA Asia women's cup: India off to a winning start

India beat Uzbekistan 92-76, with captain Anitha Durai putting up 28 points, and converting an incredible six out of seven attempts from beyond the three-point line.

India next faces Sri Lanka on Tuesday.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Captain Anitha Paul Durai turned in a splendid performance to power India to a 92-76 victory over Uzbekistan, on the opening day of the FIBA Asia women's cup here on Sunday.

Anitha put up 28 points, and converted an incredible six out of seven attempts from beyond the three-point line. The 32-year-old created space to take her shots by employing the jab step to fake her marker. When the seasoned campaigner took a breather on the bench, P.S. Jeena (12 points) and Grima Merlin (17 points) took charge.

Point guard Kavita Akula, the first Indian-born female basketball player to receive a full scholarship from a U.S. Division 1 college, spread the ball well. The home side’s every move was cheered on by an enthusiastic Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium crowd.

Uzbekistan, while the physically stronger of the two units, lacked fluency in attack. India next faces Sri Lanka on Tuesday.

Defending champion Japan, backed by a small but passionate group of fans,whipped Philippines 106-55. The supporters, many of whom were Japanese expats who work in the city, lined up near the team bus and congratulated the players after a stupendous victory. Evelyn Mawuli, whose parents immigrated to Japan from their home country of Ghana more than two decades ago, hogged the limelight by scoring 21 points.

"It is tough to make it to the national team, but there is no bias,” Evelyn said, when asked if she faced any racial discrimination in her fledgling basketball career.

Favourite Australia outclassed South Korea 78-54. Kelsey Griffin – an American-born player who gained Australian citizenship in 2015 - starred with 18 points Griffin, who is making her debut for her adopted nation, received good support from rookie Alanna Smith (13 points) and three-time Olympic medallist Belinda Snell (11 points).

Chinese Taipei edged out North Korea 77-76, in an encounter which went down to the wire. With four seconds to go, and the score level at 76-76, North Korea erred by fouling Huang Pin-Jeng. The Taipei forward converted one of two free-throws, which left North Korea with no time to mount a comeback.

The results:

Division A: Australia 78 (Kelsey Griffin 18, Alanna Smith 13, Belinda Snell 11) bt South Korea 54 (Sim Sungyong 11, Park Jisu 10); Japan 106 (Evelyn Mawuli 21, Miyuki Kawamura 14, Sakura Akaho 12, Yuka Osaki 11, Moeko Nagaoka 11) bt Philippines 55 (Gemma Miranda 10); Chinese Taipei 77 (Bao Hsi-Le 17, Lan Hao-Yu 14, Huang Ping-Jen 11, Cheng Hsiu 11) bt North Korea 76 (Ro Suk Yong 36, Kim Hyang 23); China 77 (Li Meng 15, Shen Yi 14, Zhao Shuang 14) bt New Zealand 48 (Jillian Harmon 14).

Division B: Singapore 103 (Sarah Tan 21, Jacqueline Chu 17, Cheryl Poon 17, Ariel Loiter 11, Amanda Lim 10) bt  Fiji 38 (Bitilia Tawake 8); Kazakhstan 62 (Zalina Kurazova 14, Tamara Yagodkina 22, Nadezhda Kondrakova 11) bt Lebanon 54 (Lama Moukaddem 10, Rebecca Akl 18); India 92 (Anitha Paul Durai 28, P.S. Jeena 12, Grima Merlin 17) bt Uzbekistan 76 (Elvira Salavatova 15, Natalya Koneva 13, Elina Kushnitdinova 14).

On Monday:

Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium:

Division A: Australia vs Philippines (11am); North Korea vs New Zealand (1.15pm); Japan vs South Korea (3.30pm); China vs Chinese Taipei (5.45pm).

Division B: Koramangala Indoor Stadium:Lebanon vs Fiji (3pm); Singapore vs Kazakhstan (6pm); Sri Lanka vs Uzbekistan (8pm)

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