Changsha (China), Sep 24 (IANS) The Indian basketball team produced a superb fight-back before going down 66-88 to defending champions Iran in their second Group A match at the 28th FIBA Asia Championship here on Thursday.
India and Iran were coming into this match after winning their opening matches against Malaysia and Japan, respectively.
The Iranians enjoyed the better start, taking a 27-11 lead by the end of the first quarter which forced India to play catch up for the rest of the game.
But the Indians took the fight to their opponents in the second period, outscoring the 17th ranked side in the world 19-12.
The third and fourth quarters too were closely fought, with Iran outscoring India by single digits in each of these 10-minute sessions.
The Indian team suffered a setback just before half-time when their primary centre Amritpal Singh was fouled out.
Hassanzadeh was the top scorer for Iran with 18 points with four other Iranians scoring in double digits.
Despite the loss, India outperformed Iran in key statistical categories. They had a better conversion rate from long range attempts, (31.2 percent as against Iran’s 20.8 percent), had fewer turnovers and committed fewer fouls.
Indian forward Amjyot Singh admitted that Amritpal’s absence affected India’s performance. Amritpal and Amjyot had together contributed 21 of the 30 points scored by the Indians in the first half.
“Definitely if Amritpal could have stayed in the second half we would have given them a good fight,” Amjyot said after the game.
India will play their final Group A match against Japan on Friday.