Once again, Team India proved to be in a class of their own at the South Asian level. With three convincing victories from July 6-8, India steamrolled through opponents from Nepal, Maldives, and Bangladesh to a perfect 3-0 record at the South Asian Basketball Association (SABA) qualifiers and clinched their qualification for the 2016 FIBA Asia Challenge. India hosted the qualifiers at Bengaluru's Sri Kantaveera Stadium this week.
India's campaign to qualify for the FIBA Asia Challenge got underway on Wednesday, July 6 against Nepal, who eventually staked their claim as the second-best team at the tournament. India started in the best way possible, on a 17-0 run and holding on to a 23-4 advantage at the end of the first quarter. While Nepal showed considerable improvement in the second period, India did just enough after halftime to post an insurmountable lead and notch a 81-53 victory.
India had a major size advantage in Game 2 against Maldives on Thursday, and despite some inconsistencies and unforced errors, they again started off on fire (23-5) and held a comfortable 37 point lead at halftime. India remained on cruise control in the second half and a fourth-quarter flurry saw them extend the lead to a huge, 96-40 win.
- 1. India [3-0]
- 2. Maldives [1-2] (+10)
- 3. Nepal [1-2](+6)
- 4. Bangladesh [1-2] (-16)
This was India's fourth win in the last five edition of the SABA Qualifiers. The 2016 FIBA Asia Challenge is set to be held in Tehran, Iran, from September 9-18. It is the second step in the qualification process for the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup, which will be the first continental cup that will see participants from both Asia and Oceania. The FIBA Asia Cup (starting in 2017) was previously known as the FIBA Asia Championship and the FIBA Asia Challenge (starting in 2016) was previously known as the FIBA Stankovic / Asia Cup.