Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], February 27 (ANI): The Indian men’s basketball side put up a valiant effort in their final Group E match, but lost to Saudi Arabia by 60-71 in their FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers at the Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium in Bengaluru on Monday.
As per Olympics.com, India has ended their campaign in the qualifiers without a win in their 14 games. India was placed in Group A with New Zealand, the Philippines and South Korea. India lost matches against NZ and the Philippines. They were awarded four points and moved to the next round after South Korea pulled out of the event due to COVID-19.
In the second round, India, part of Group E, lost two matches each to New Zealand, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Jordan.
New Zealand, Lebanon, Philippines and Jordan qualified for the World Cup as they were the top-four teams in Group E. Saudi Arabia and India missed out on a berth at World Cup.
On Monday, India, currently placed at 83 in FIBA Basketball Rankings, made a great start, leading Saudi by 19-16 in the first quarter. Arvind Kumar and Muin Bek Hafeez made the most scoring opportunities for India.
But India fumbled their lead in the second quarter, giving a 37-33 lead to Saudi, a side placed 12 places above India in the rankings.
The third quarter was well-contested among both sides and India took the lead once again with six minutes left for the final buzzer. Arvind Kumar gave Saudi Arabia two free throws after a foul, which swung the momentum in favour of the visitors, who eventually won by a comfortable 11-point margin.
Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Alsuwailem, with 27 points, emerged as the top-scorer in the match, Arvind Kumar top-scored for India with 24 points.
The rest of the qualification spots in the World Cup were clinched by Japan, Iran, Australia and China. The 32-team World Cup will be co-hosted by the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia and will go on from August 25-September 10.
India is yet to qualify for the main draw of the World Cup. (ANI)