FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers | India's campaign over after defeat to Saudi Arabia
In their last Group E encounter in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers against Saudi Arabia, the Indian team gave it their all but fell short 71-60 in Bengaluru on Monday. India's qualification campaign came to an end after the loss with no victories in their previous 14 games.
Indian basketball players were grouped with New Zealand, the Philippines, and South Korea in Group A of the preliminary qualifiers. South Korea, the other team in the group, withdrew because to COVID-19 and was disqualified, hence the Indian men's basketball team won four points and advanced to the next stage despite losing two games each to New Zealand and the Philippines.
India, who was a member of Group E, lost two games against each of New Zealand, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Jordan in the second round. The top four teams in Group E—New Zealand, Lebanon, Philippines, and Jordan—made it to the World Cup, while Saudi Arabia and India were left out.
On Monday, India, which was ranked 83rd in the FIBA basketball rankings, got off to a good start and lead Saudi Arabia 19-16 at the half. Muin Bek Hafeez and Arvind Kumar made the most of India's chances. But, India's slim advantage vanished in the second quarter when Saudi Arabia, which is rated 12 places higher than India, increased the stakes to win 37-33.
In the third quarter, there was little difference between Saudi Arabia and India as they competed head-to-head and traded possession phases. With six minutes remained to the final horn, India did succeed in regaining the lead.
But, with Saudi Arabia up by two free throws and India leading 54-53, Arvind Kumar's foul handed the visitors a new lease on life. The result was Saudi Arabia winning easily by 11 points. Mohammed Alsuwailem of Saudi Arabia led all scorers with 27 points, but Arvind Kumar of India led all scorers with 24 points. On Friday, Arvind scored 19 points against Jordan.
Japan, Iran, Australia, and China won the remaining berths in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers. The Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia will co-host the 32-team FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 from August 25 to September 10.
India has never made it into the FIBA Basketball World Cup's main draw.