FIBA World Cup qualifiers: India goes down to Jordan

India put up a spirited display on Friday but as Amjyot Singh and Amritpal Singh watched helplessly from the stands, the home side lost 102-88 to Jordan in the Asian qualifiers for the 2019 World Cup.

Action during a FIBA World Cup qualifiers between India and Jordan in Bengaluru on Friday.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Even at full strength, it was always going to be difficult for India to overcome Jordan. But without two of its best players, it was going to need an extraordinary performance.

India put up a spirited display here on Friday but as Amjyot Singh and Amritpal Singh watched helplessly from the stands, the home side lost 102-88 to Jordan in the Asian qualifiers for the 2019 World Cup.

With a third defeat in three, Satnam Singh’s men find themselves at the bottom of Group C, their chances of progress virtually extinguished.

It emerged that Amjyot and Amritpal – the team’s only two members playing professionally overseas – could not take part because they were not among the 24 names the Basketball Federation of India initially sent to FIBA.

According to secretary general Chander Mukhi Sharma, the BFI did attempt to include them in the squad later on, but was told on match-eve by FIBA that it would not be possible.

The BFI is not pleased that Amjyot, who plays for Oklahoma City Blue in the NBA G-League, and Amritpal, who is fresh off a stint in Australia's NBL, missed games in the first qualifying window. In November, Amritpal played against Lebanon before leaving for home ahead of the Syria clash citing an illness in the family. Amjyot did not join the squad for either fixture.

“Because they didn't play for India in the past, the trust between the selectors and them was broken,” said Sharma.

“Our disciplinary committee was looking into it. So they were not on the list of 24 we initially sent to FIBA. We could not be sure that they were going to be available. By the time they confirmed, it was too late to add their names. We wrote to FIBA and were hopeful but they replied to us yesterday stating that they could not play.”

India will wonder what might have been for the team played with desire and intensity, only to be let down by some sloppy passing and conversion. Satnam Singh (20 points, 10 rebounds) and Aravind Annadurai (28, 11) were excellent, troubling Jordan all evening, while the guard Justin Joseph 16 points) was a lively presence too. Satnam was at the heart of India's early aggression. He treated the crowd to two double-handed dunks and linked up well with Yadwinder Singh and Annadurai as the host raced to an 18-10 lead in the first six minutes. Jordan quickly fought back, however, edging 26-20 ahead by the end of the first quarter. India converted less than 40% of its field goals as the visitor surged to a 51-38 lead by the end of the first half.

The Jordanian centre Mohammad Shaher Hussain was a constant threat under the board, having racked up 13 points and 15 rebounds at this stage. India was much the better side in the third quarter (outscoring Jordan 23-15), clawing its way back to 66-61 but it simply ran out of steam in the final period.

India will now meet Lebanon on Monday.

The result: India 88 (Aravind Annadurai 28, Satnam Singh 20, Justin Joseph 16) lost to Jordan 102 (Mohammad Shaher Hussein 19, Mahmoud Abdeen 18, Darquavis Tucker 18, Yousef Abu Wazaneh 15, Mousa Alawadi 12).