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FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers: India go down fighting against hosts Philippines

India lost the match 88-64 but put up a much-improved display than they did against New Zealand in Wednesday’s match.

The Indian men’s basketball team put up a valiant fight but eventually lost 88-64 to hosts Philippines in its second FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers Group A match at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Friday.

Sahaij Pratap Singh Sekhon top-scored for India with 14 points followed by Prashant Singh Rawat with 13. Dwight Ramos was the standout player for the Philippines with 17 points and four rebounds.

Having been on the receiving end of a heavy 101-46  defeat against New Zealand in their opening match on Thursday, the Indian basketball team, captained by Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, put up a much-improved display in their second outing.

India, ranked 80th in the latest FIBA men’s basketball rankings, went toe-to-toe with world No. 33 Philippines up until the midway point of the first quarter, inspired by some excellent performances by Sahaij Pratap Singh Sekhon and Prashant Singh Rawat.

A late flurry by the hosts, however, saved them the blushes as the Philippines took an 18-13 lead into the second quarter.

The Philippines, clearly the stronger of the two sides kept increasing the deficit in the second quarter and took a 44-32 by the time the half-time hooter sounded.

The final two quarters also followed a similar trend, but the young Indian team gave a good account of themselves against their much-fancied opponents with occasional sparks of brilliance. Prashant Singh Rawat, in particular, impressed, finishing the game with a double double – 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Sekhon, meanwhile, emerged as India’s top scorer in the second successive match after netting 10 points against New Zealand.

The Indian basketball team was scheduled to face off against world No. 30 South Korea on Sunday next but the match is set to be cancelled. This is because the Korean team withdrew from the qualifying matches to be played in the Philippines after a player in their team tested positive for COVID-19.

India are currently third in Group A with two points from as many matches. The Philippines are top with four.

By Utathya Nag

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