India’s return to the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers turned out to be a disastrous one as Lebanon emphatically crushed the men in white. The Indian basketball team were crushed 60-115 by a swift Lebanese side at the Khalifa Sports City Stadium in Manama, Bahrain on Friday. With this comprehensive victory, the Lebanese basketball team strengthened their position atop Group D with their unbeaten run in the tournament so far.
Wael Arakji starred in Lebanon’s victory as the side’s top scorer went on to add 20 points to his name along with four rebounds and two assists. On the other hand, India clearly missed their experienced duo of Amritpal Singh and Aravind Annadurai as they struggled to match Lebanon’s fast-paced play. Amjyot Singh was the silver lining for India in the game as the Punjab player was the only Indian player to reach double digits. Singh managed five rebounds and two assists as he ramped up 25 points for his side.
A Herculean task awaits India
Indian basketball team captain Vishesh Bhriguvanshi and Muin Bek Hafeez, India’s star performer in the tournament failed to rise to the occasion. Bhriguvanshi seemed rusty as he struggled during the game and was often missing in transitions. On the other hand, power forward Hafeez, who averaged 18.5 points in the competition before the game failed to score a single point against Lebanon on Friday.
This dismal performance by the Young Cagers means they hold on to the thrid spot in the group with four points. India has only one win in their three games so far which came against last placed Iraq.
The lose puts India in a difficult situation as they gear up to face Bahrain up next in a must-win game. A win against the hosts on Sunday will guarantee Indian basketball team’s direct qualification for the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup.