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FIBA U16 Asian Championship: India beats Lebanon 76-69
After leading at one point by 26 points, India holds on for the win - its first over Lebanon at the U16 level, and closes in on a spot in the pre-quarterfinals.
Following a disappointing drubbing at the hands of defending champions Australia in its opening game, India’s U16 boys basketball team turned it around with a morale-boosting win over Lebanon.
The FIBA U16 Asian Championship is underway at the Al Gharafa Indoor Stadium in Doha, Qatar.
Facing Lebanon last night (i.e. September 18), which was coming off an easy win over Sri Lanka, India pressed all the right buttons from the start.
India comes out firing
India’s energy on both ends of the floor, especially defensively, was palpable. The side, hungry for its first win and perhaps still stinging from the blowout loss to the Aussies, played with superb intensity in the first half.
India led 27-16 at the end of the first quarter, 46-28 at halftime, and by the 5:54 mark in the third quarter, enjoyed what appeared to be an unassailable 26-point lead.
Turnovers aid Lebanon's 2nd half comeback
India dominated the defensive boards (38-21) and shot way better from beyond the arc (36.4% to just 8.7% for Lebanon) to compensate for its perennial turnover problem. India conceded a whopping 37 turnovers, which led to 40 points for Lebanon. As a result, Lebanon also naturally led in terms of steals, with Ramy Hachem alone registering 10 of them, an all-time record at the U16 level.
For India, shooting guard Mohit Jogchand in the first half, and forward Lokesh Kumar Sharma in the second starred offensively.
While Jogchand connected on three of his four outside attempts, Sharma was money down the stretch, keeping Lebanon’s inspired comeback rally at bay. (The duo though, was guilty of conceding 20 turnovers just between them.)
Not to be outdone, 6’ 6” centre Kailash Bishnoi showcased his credentials as a durable two-way talent, playing all 40 minutes to register an impressive double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds - including five on the offensive glass.
First-ever win over Lebanon
Significantly, this is India’s first-ever win over Lebanon at the U16 boys' level, in three head-to-head games.
Even more interestingly, this win cannot technically be considered an upset, as the Indian boys’ world ranking (which is a combined ranking for U16 and U18 levels) is 34, compared to 39 for Lebanon.
India next faces Sri Lanka in its final group phase game later today at 5pm IST. Another win will guarantee India the second seed in Group A behind Australia, and a spot in the pre-quarterfinals.
India (Lokesh Kumar Sharma 24 pts 10 reb, Mohit Jogchand 20 pts, Kailash Bishnoi 13 pts 10 reb) bt Lebanon (Jason El Dekss 22 pts 15 reb, Ramy Hachem 10 stl) 76-69 [27-16, 19-12, 16-21, 14-20]