Playing without a point-guard once again proved costly for Indian cagers. A defensive lapse in the second quarter also played its part in India’s quarterfinal exit from the 24th Fiba Asia U-18 Basketball Championship in Tehran, Iran, on Friday.World No 54 Lebanon reeled in 13 unanswered points in the second period as India failed to defend to lose their quarterfinal game 67-98.The group-B toppers and inform cagers from Lebanon though were forced into a cat-mouse situation by the furious play of their 52nd ranked rivals before scraping through to a 31-point victory and seal the semi-final spot in style.Making most of their taller frame and an average height of 6-foot-4, Lebanon hoopsters out rebounded India 53-28 and also had a 34-10 ratio of second chance points for a facile victory in the end.For starters, Indian cagers got off to a positive start and were trailing by just two points (21-23) at the end of first quarter. Surprised by the aggressive man-to-man marking of their lower ranked opponents in the second quarter, Indian cagers threw in the towel at crucial stage as Lebanon coasted along for a 26-9 win. With a handy 19-point (49-30) lead at the breather, Lebanon virtually sealed the fate of the game.After the change of ends, Indian players fought well but failed to bring the lead down as the lanky guards from Lebanon came up with timely conversion to win the third and fourth period 21-20 and 28-17 respectively for a facile 31-point triumph.Drive With Care- A Road Safety Initiative By Chevrolet IndiaChevrolet IndiaFor the winners, experienced S Ghandour played a pivotal role with 15 points and eight rebounds as M Alkhoury and N Ozeir had a respective double-double. Alkhoury scored a team-high 18 points, Ozeir added 17 points as both pulled identical 10 rebounds for Lebanon.While India’s shooting guards failed to score baskets at will, Lanky Kerala guard Gineeb Benny fired a game-high 19 points to go with his seven rebounds. Skipper P Baladaneshwar contributed 17 points and Vishal Kumar Gupta added nine points with as many rebounds.
Having failed to clear their quarterfinal hurdle, Indian cagers will now play the 5-8 place classification game against Chinese Taipei on Saturday.