Bengaluru, 28 Oct 2018: Favourites Indian girls began with a hard-fought win over Iran, who played the zonal defence well to scare the fancied opponents before surrendering 65-73 in the FIBA under-18 women’s Asian Basketball Championship here at the Kanteerava Stadium on Sunday night.
After the Indian girls repeatedly erred under the basket with erratic shooting, it was Coorgi Harshita Kelttira Bopaiah, who came to the rescue of host team with some sensible baskets that helped the team recover and maintain their calm to move from a scary two-point lead to a comfortable win. It was Bopaiah, who began the scoring for India, and quickly hosts shot into a 10-point lead at the end of the first period. India is aiming to top the group and ultimately gain a promotion to A Division, are without the services of skipper Pushpa Senthil Kumar due to an injured ankle, but managed to cruise to a comfortable 31-13 lead with forwards Ishwarya Janardhanan and Sreekala Rani doing the bulk of scoring including two three-pointers by Tamil Nadu’s Aishwarya. However, after that, the quarter saw the Iranian girls come back scoring 17 points on the trot to close the gap at 31-30. India went into the half-time break at 40-35 and ended the third quarter at 56-47.
Iran, who entered the basketball fraternity last year after FIBA approved playing with the Hijab, all the Iranian players were action covering their heads and in their full with their forward Fatemah Ghazvini scoring 22 points. In the last period, Iran almost overthrew the hosts and appeared to turn the tables but the Indian coach took a time-out and the Indian girls came back to score some decisive baskets to win their first game. India after gaining a good lead failed to sort out the defensive strategy of the Iranians who indulged in quick breaks and successful turnovers.
For India Kerala forward Sreekala Rani top scored with 17 points and local lass Harshita basketed 15.
Japan overcomes NZ
Earlier, a strong and fast Japan defeated New Zealand who provided a stiff contest early after the half-time break but could not sustain it. Known as junior Tall Ferns, they managed to bridge the gap to 50-52 but Japan recovered to take a 77-62 victory with Norika Konno (16) and Layla Takehara (15) and forward Nanako Todo (11) coming good.
Division A: Group A: Australia 96 bt Indonesia 28; Korea 64 bt Chinese Taipei 56.
Group B: China 102 bt Malaysia 28; Japan 77 bt New Zealand 62.
Division B: Group A: India 73 (Harshitha Bopaiah 15, Ishwarya Janardhanan 13, Sreekala Rani 17, Anumaria 11) bt Iran 65 (Fatemah Ghazvini 22, Negin Khameneh 15); Singapore 83 bt Guam 35.
Group B: Hong Kong 78 bt Samoa 50; Syria 56 bt Kazakhstan 40.