Basketball: India lose to China in U-16 Asian meet

Jakarta: The India U-16 basketball team went down 57-116 to former champions China on the opening day of the 4th FIBA Asia U-16 Championship here on Thursday.

The Indians started off well, giving a stiff fight to the three-time champions in the early stages. They were trailing their opponents 9-10 midway through the first period, but the superior skills and consistency of the Chinese players began to take their toll as the match progressed.

While the Chinese lads got the opening win, the Indians also took away key positives from the game. Keeping the larger picture of qualifying for the next round in mind, India coach M.S. Rathore sensibly rotated the bench to give playing time to all 12 members of the squad.

Three Indian players ended up with double digit scores, led by captain P. Baladhaneshwar’s 18 points. Harshwardhan Tomar was the team’s second best scorer with 11 points.

Point guard Manoj Sisodia showcased his defensive anticipation with six steals, which was the main reason behind India outperforming China in this statistical category (14-10). The 14-year-old Sisodia, who is also the youngest player in the Indian team, was India’s most efficient performer of the day.

For China, Rongqi Huang was the highest scorer with 22 points while Rongzhen Zhu (14 points) and Yufeng Han (13 points) also did well.

India will next face another strong team in North Korea on Friday. They will play strong contenders Iraq in the final preliminary league match on Saturday.