October 3, 2010

China win FIBA Asia U18 Championship; India finish 13th

The talented squad of Chinese players put the final stamp on a dominating performance after beating Korea 103-80 in the gold-medal game of the 21st FIBA Asia U18 Championship, in Sana'a, Yemen, on October 1st to win their ninth title in 18 appearances at this competition.

Chinese Taipei finished in third place, Iran fourth, and Philippines in fifth.

Heading for this competition, India had assembled a team of talented youngsters who had experience playing together and had generated some positive results before the tournament, leading to heightened pre-championship expectations. Unfortunately, the team wasn't prepared to deal with the onslaught faced in a tough group, as three of their group games to Japan, Yemen, and Iraq.

The youngsters redeemed themselves slightly in the 13-16th place playoffs, rolling by Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka with considerable ease to end the tournament at 13th place. India failed to improve in their last two showings at the competition (2006 and 2008) where they had also finished 13th.

India started brightly against their toughest competitors Japan in the first game, but lost focus in the second half to go down 89-72. They suffered heavy defeats at the hands of their next two rivals, going down 95-58 to hosts Yemen and 87-58 to Iraq. As the Young Cagers had finished bottom of Group D, they were placed in the 13-16th place playoffs, where they finally showed some good play. India beat Saudi Arabia 89-75 and stomped over Middle Asia Zone rivals Sri Lanka 68-34 in the last game to retain the 13th spot.

The poor overall performance of the team goes on to show how far we still need to go to become serious threats in Asian basketball. India seem to have an easy time against teams we are supposed to beat, but regularly buck down early against any tougher competition. I'm still waiting for the day when we start making waves by in a competition like this one by causing an upset or two over some stronger teams.

There were a few silver linings to the performance, thought - India fielded a talented U18 squad that is sure to benefit from the experience. They were led by brilliant performances by Arjun Singh, who played four of the five games and averaged 22.3 ppg per contest. Other youngsters like Dishant Shah and Rakesh Kumar Yadav also showed some potential with their performances.

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