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Olympics Basketball Pre-Qualifiers: India hands Kazakhstan a lifeline
The third straight basketball clash at the 2024 Olympics Pre-Qualifying Tournament saw India's winning streak come to an end with a tight 70-73 loss.
Damascus, 14th August 2023: The third straight basketball clash at the 2024 Olympics Pre-Qualifying Tournament saw India's winning streak come to an end as they fell short against Kazakhstan with a close score of 70-73. The battle unfolded at the Al Fayhaa Stadium in Syria.
India, riding high on two consecutive victories, encountered their first setback against a determined Kazakhstan squad. Fatigue from three games in as many days seemed to weigh heavier on the Indian players, allowing Kazakhstan to capitalize on their weariness.
Kazakhstan, facing a must-win situation, displayed sheer aggression on both offense and defense. The physicality of their game was evident from the start, as they swiftly built a commanding 9-0 lead within the opening five minutes. It took a layup by the resilient backup point guard, Arvind Kumar Muthu Krishnan, to finally put India on the scoreboard.
Muthu Krishnan's Notable Contribution in Vain
In a valiant effort, Muthu Krishnan and center Palpreet Singh Brar emerged as standout performers for India. Despite his stature, Muthu Krishnan's unexpected production included 4 offensive rebounds and a team-high 18 points. Meanwhile, Brar's presence was felt at both ends of the court, as he secured a double-double with 13 points, 10 rebounds, and an impressive 3 blocked shots.
The game witnessed a series of 16 lead changes, with India making huge comebacks from significant deficits. Twice during the match, Muthu Krishnan played a pivotal role in India's resurgence. Especially in the third quarter, he spearheaded a game-changing 16-0 run that granted India a narrow 54-50 advantage heading into the final frame.
Kazakhstan's Surge in the Fourth Quarter
In a riveting fourth quarter, Kazakhstan managed to outscore India 23-16, primarily led by the towering 6ft 10'' center, Vladamir Ivanov. Ivanov's dominance was highlighted by his astounding eight offensive rebounds, complemented by a substantial contribution of 19 points.
However, India's final tally was marred by missed field goals, collectively shooting at a mere 39% with a 23/59 score. On the other hand, Kazakhstan, now sporting a 1-2 record in the tournament, lives to fight another day.
Veteran Players Struggle to Find Form
India's veteran trio consisting of Amjyot Singh Gill, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, and Muin Bek Hafeez faced a challenging outing, each managing only 2 points despite considerable court time spanning nearly 60 minutes. Notably, Aravind Annadurai, a seasoned power forward, saw limited playtime and remained scoreless in the match, contributing to India's woes.
Talented young small forward, Pranav Prince, also encountered difficulties in finding his rhythm, concluding the game with 11 points from a 4-of-10 shooting performance.
Anticipating a Crucial Matchup
With a much-needed rest day scheduled for tomorrow, coinciding with India's Independence Day, the team has an opportunity to rejuvenate and recalibrate their strategy before facing Saudi Arabia. A victory in this impending clash secures India's place in the semifinals, whereas another loss would intensify pressure in the final group stage confrontation against a formidable Bahrain team.
Final Score: India (Arvind Kumar Muthu Krishnan 18 pts, 6 reb; Palpreet Singh Brar 13 pts, 10 reb, 3 blk, Pranav Prince 11 pts) lose to Kazakhstan (Vladimir Ivanov 19 pts, 12 reb; Konstantin Neff 12 pts, Anton Bykov 10 pts) 70-73 [16-19, 20-18, 18-13, 16-23].