FIBA U-16 Asian C'ship: India enters Division B final

India sailed into the final of the FIBA U-16 Women's Asian Championship (Division B) with a comprehensive 77-40 victory over Kazakhstan. India will face Malaysia in the final

Point guard Neha Karwa in action against Kazakhstan at the FIBA U-16 Women's Asian Championship (Division B) at the Sree Kanteerava indoor stadium here on Friday.   -  Sudhakara Jain

India sailed into the final of the FIBA U-16 Women's Asian Championship (Division B) with a comprehensive 77-40 victory over Kazakhstan here on Friday.

Vaishnavi Yadav (21 points, 15 rebounds) and Pushpa Senthil Kumar (14 points, 16 rebounds) both registered 'double doubles' as Kazakhstan struggled to match the home team's superiority under the board. India will now meet Malaysia – which overcame Iran in the other semifinal – for the title, which will bring with it promotion to Division A.

Forward Vaishnavi was in the thick of things again. Already leading the scoring averages in Division-B, the 16-year-old forward was relentless all evening, driving to the basket with a speed and purpose that left a leaden-footed Kazakhstan side looking clueless.

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The Allahabad girl combined effectively with point guard Neha Karwa as India stepped on the pedal halfway after the first five minutes of the game, when the teams were tied 6-6. Neha eventually finished on 11 points herself, as did Sreekala Rani, making it four Indian players in double figures.

India ended the first quarter 18-11 ahead, before outscoring the opponent 27-9 in the second. There was no trouble thereafter as Vaishnavi, who was 8 out of 8 with her free throws and centre Pushpa casually strengthened their grip on the game. Captain Sanjana Ramesh, who is easing her way back from an ankle injury, spent 19 minutes on court, in which time she used her height to full effect, pulling off seven defensive rebounds.

India will expect to prevail over Malaysia on Saturday without much fuss.

Meanwhile, in a repeat of the FIBA Women's Asia Cup final, held at the same venue earlier this year, Japan and Australia will battle for the Division A title. Australia outclassed China in the first semifinal, registering a comfortable 86-46 victory. Captain and point guard Shyla Heal scored 15 points while power-forward Agnes Emma-Nnopu was equally dominant, scoring 17.

In the second semifinal, a fast, athletic Japanese side tore New Zealand to shreds with its attacking play. Trailing 10-15 after five minutes, Japan moved up a gear; at the end of the first quarter it had taken a 25-16 lead. New Zealand had no answer, and slumped to a 32-point defeat.

The results (semifinals):
Division A:
Australia 86 bt China 46; Japan 97 bt New Zealand 65.
Division B: Malaysia 85 bt Iran 68; India 77 (Vaishnavi Yadav 21, Pushpa Senthil Kumar 14, Sreekala Rani 11, Neha Karwa 11) bt Kazakhstan 40 (Alexandra Komarova 12, Xeniya Abdurashitova 10).