Saudi Arabia defeated Palestine 96-72 in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifying tournaments – Group H on Sunday, sending a wave of cheer in the Indian camp as that win paved the way for India to qualify for the finals scheduled in July 2022 at Jakarta.
India, who had lost 80-61 to the Saudis in their first match on Friday, had overcome Palestine 79-77 in a thriller on Saturday and needed the hosts to either beat Palestine or lose by a huge margin, to qualify for the finals.
The Saudis won Sunday’s match comfortably and finished with two wins while India ended second in the three-team group with one win and one defeat. Palestine lost both their matches and thus finished third.
India and Saudi Arabia thus qualified for the FIBA Asia Cup finals and joined 13 teams — hosts Indonesia, Australia, Bahrain, China, Iran, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Lebanon, New Zealand, Philippines, and Syria — that have already qualified for the 16-team competition. The 16th team will be decided via a two-match series between Chinese Taipei and Guam.
India had finished third in the first round of qualifiers in Group D behind Lebanon and Bahrain and made it to the second qualifying stage. India has qualified for every Asia Cup edition since 1976 except in 1993. The fourth place in 1975 is their best-ever performance in this competition.