The Indian men’s Basketball team put all doubts of their 91-83 win over the Philippines as a one-off fluke to rest, by shocking China 70-64 in the FIBA Asia Challenge in Tehran on Tuesday. Amritpal Singh was the star for the 53rd ranked team, scoring 23 points to help India beat Asia’s top-ranked team in the sport.
After the high of upsetting Gilas Pilipinas, the Indian team saw the low of losing to Chinese Taipei in the final match of the first round and then losing heavily to Jordan in the second round. They needed to upset the World No.14 team to give themselves a chance at making the last eight of the FIBA Asia Challenge.
The first quarter showed no signs of this, though, with India trailing 17-14 at its conclusion. But a strong comeback in the second quarter saw them score 17 points in 10 minutes and take a slender 31-29 lead when it ended. A six-point lead in the third quarter and a tight final quarter meant India edged past the same team that crushed them 104-58 in October 2015 in the Asian Championships quarter-final playoffs.
A second upset over China in two years ( India beat China in the FIBA Asia Cup in 2014) means that India has six points from four matches and sits third out of six teams in Group E. They now have a realistic chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals if they beat Kazakhstan in the final league match on Wednesday.
According to Espn.in, The top five nations at the FIBA Asia Challenge will earn an extra berth for their respective sub-confederations for the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup — a tournament that will host teams from both Asia and Oceania for the first time, and also serve as a qualifier for the FIBA World Cup to be hosted by China in 2019.