Jeddah, Aug 20 (IANS) India suffered a setback in their dream to qualify for next year’s FIBA Asia Cup in Jakarta when the men’s basketball team went down fighting to Saudi Arabia 61-80 on Friday night.
After falling 8-20 behind at the end of the first quarter, India fought back gamely against a strong Saudi Arabia team as they closed the gap to within three points. Joginder Singh and Sahaij Pratap Singh Sekhon were the two sharpshooters that helped India claw their way back into the game.
They both combined for seven three-pointers on 12 attempts as India cut down the gap.
However, India could not maintain the momentum as Saudi Arabia, egged on by a vociferous home crowd at the King Abdullah Sports City, came back strongly with a 13-0 run in the fourth quarter that helped them seal the victory.
For India, Joginder Singh top-scored with 17 points while Sekhon had 15.
For Saudi Arabia, young Mohammed Alsuwailem starred with 16 points, 12 rebounds, and five blocks. Khalid Abdel Gabar (17), Mathna Almarwanin (11), Nassir Abo Jalas (11), and Fahad Belal (11) were the other scorers for the hosts.
India will now have to regroup quickly as they play Palestine on Saturday. A victory will seal a place in the finals to be played in Indonesia in February 2022.