WC Asian Qualifiers: India loses to Syria

India slipped to a second loss in as many qualification outings, and has four more group matches remaining to get on track. The national team next takes on Jordan in February next year.

India's Santnam Singh Bharma in action against Syria during FIBA Basketball World cup 2019 Asian qualifying match at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Sunday.   -  Sudhakara Jain

A sluggish India fell 57-74 to Syria in a FIBA Basketball World Cup Asian qualifier (first round) match here on Sunday.

India lacked offensive flow, and struggled to build any sort of momentum. The home side converted a mere 21 out of 58 field-goal attempts, in a thoroughly disappointing show in front of an enthusiastic Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium crowd. Skipper Satnam Singh (14 points) was the only player to reach double digits in the score column.

The team suffered a big blow even before it took the court. Key centre Amritpal Singh missed the action as he travelled to Amritsar (Punjab) to join his ill father. India, already affected by the absence of the indisposed Amjyot Singh and the injured Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, could not find its feet without the established trio.

READ: Syrian basketballer yearns to return home

"Amritpal had to leave Bengaluru on the morning of the match because of family reasons. It was not ideal for us, but I feel the real issue lies with our poor fitness. We played our previous match on Thursday away at Lebanon, and we could not recover in time for this match because our players are out of shape. The Syrians, on the other hand, are fitter than us. That was the difference between the two sides," India coach Zoran Visic stated.

India slipped to a second loss in as many qualification outings, and has four more group matches remaining to get on track. The national team next takes on Jordan in February next year.

For Syria, the shooting-guard duo of Michael Madanly (21 points) and Al-Jabi (11 points) stood out. The visitor more than made up for a humiliating 72-109 defeat suffered at the hands of Jordan a few days ago. "This is an emotional win, because the pressure was doubled after that big loss to Jordan. We had to prove to everyone that we are a good team," Syria coach Veselin Matic said.

The results:

Syria 74 (Michael Madanly 21, Al-Jabi 11) bt India 57 (Satnam Singh 14).