India pip Palestine 79-77 in Asia Cup basketball qualifiers

A brilliant performance in the fourth quarter helped India prevail over Palestine 79-77 in a thrilling do-or-die encounter and maintain their chances of qualifying for next year’s FIBA Asia Cup in Indonesia.

India came up with a brilliant performance in the fourth quarter to secure a superb come-from-behind win. India went into the final quarter, trailing 52-61 but not only did they manage to shut down Palestine defensively but also scored big to secure a memorable win. India outscored Palestine 27-16 to win the match 79-77.

Having lost to hosts Saudi Arabia in their first match of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers, India had to beat Palestine in the three-team group to keep alive their chances of booking a berth to Indonesia.

India will keep an eye on Sunday’s final league clash between Saudi Arabia and Palestine to know their fate. If Saudi Arabia win, India will qualify along with them and join the 13 teams that have already booked their place in the tournament that was scheduled for this year but was postponed to February, 2022 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

If Palestine beat Saudi Arabia on Sunday, all three teams will have one win each and the issue will be resolved through points difference.

Though India did well to fight back and beat Palestine, they looked down and out as they had conceded lead in the first half.

They made a poor start, struggled to collect rebounds both at the defensive and offensive ends and allowed Palestine’s two main players — shooting guard Kyndall Dykes and forward Sani Sakakini — time, space and opportunity to score at will. The result was Palestine led 25-13 at the end of the first quarter.

The Indians tightened their game in the second quarter and won it 23-21 and were trailing 46-36 at half-time.

India’s recovery started from the third quarter as they won it 16-15, tightening their defence and denying their rivals very few chances.

They exploded into action in the fourth quarter, marked Dykes and Sakakini well and did not allow them to pour in the three pointers. They also picked up their game at the offensive end and scored steadily to tie the score at 67-67 and then opened up a seven-point lead with both Joginder

Singh and Amjyot Singh scoring vital three-pointers. Palestine scored a couple of baskets in the final minute but that was not enough to deny India.

For India, centre Amritpal Singh scored 30 points and pulled down 12 rebounds while Amjyot scored 23 points. For Palestine, Kyndall scored 32 points and Sakakini added 22 points.