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Olympics Pre-Qualifying Basketball: India lose 75-92 to Saudi Arabia
The Indian basketball team faced another setback in the 2024 Olympics Pre-Qualifying Tournament, succumbing to a 75-92 defeat at the hands of Saudi Arabia.
Damascus, 16th August 2023: The Indian basketball team faced another setback in the 2024 Olympics Pre-Qualifying Tournament, succumbing to a 75-92 defeat at the hands of Saudi Arabia. This marked India's second consecutive loss, putting its prospects of securing the sole berth in next year's final Olympic Qualifying Tournament in jeopardy.
The intense battles of the pre-qualifiers are currently unfolding at the Al Fayhaa Stadium in Syria.
Lack of competitive match-practice
Deprived of competitive matches both domestically and internationally for several months, the Indian men's national team struggled to find their rhythm. With their fourth game in five days, the team appeared lackluster from the outset, trailing 14-27 in the opening quarter.
The situation deteriorated leading into halftime as India grappled to contain Saudi Arabia's offensive prowess while struggling to convert their own opportunities. The absence of key center Amritpal Singh was palpably felt as the undersized Palpreet Singh Brar and young Amaan Sandhu found it challenging to match up against the dominant presence of Saudi's big man, Mohammed Alsuwailem, who effortlessly scored around the rim.
By halftime, Saudi Arabia had built an imposing 52-30 lead, making the task ahead for India seemingly insurmountable.
Glimmers of Hope
Amidst the struggle, backup point guard Arvind Kumar Muthu Krishnan emerged as one of India's standout performers, continuing his confident play from the previous match against Kazakhstan.
However, despite his efforts, Saudi Arabia maintained control, securing a commanding 92-75 victory.
In the grand scheme of the tournament, if current table-toppers Bahrain secure a victory against Indonesia later today, they will secure the coveted spot in next year's final Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Yet, India's hopes remain alive, hinging on Bahrain's loss in today's match and India's triumph against Bahrain in their final pre-qualifying encounter tomorrow.
India (Amaan Sandhu 14 pts, 9 reb; Arvind Kumar Muthu Krishnan 12 pts; Pranav Prince 10 pts) lose to Saudi Arabia (Khalid M Abdel Gabar 15 pts, 9 ast; Musab Tariq M Kadi 15 pts, 9 reb; Mohammed Alsuwailem 11 pts, 9 reb; Fahad Belal 12 pts) 75-92 [14-27, 16-25, 20-18, 25-22]
India’s Remaining Group Phase Schedule (all times IST)
Thursday, 17th August: vs Bahrain 5:30pm
All games are being live streamed for free on the Courtside 1891 website/app.