India end FIBA Women’s Asia Cup on a winless note

The hosts are relegated to Division ‘B’ after their loss to the Philippines in the 7/8th place classification match.

A 78-92 loss at the hands of the Philippines saw India finish at the bottom of the 2019 FIBA Women’s Asia Cup Division ‘A’ at the Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium in Bengaluru on Friday.

The defeat in the 7/8th place classification tie also brought the curtains down on India’s brief stay in the division as they were relegated to Division ‘B’ following the loss.

Change in strategy

Coming into the do-or-die match, the Indian head coach Zoran Visic chose to go with an attacking strategy as the experienced centre Stephy Nixon was restricted to the bench while power forward Navaneetha Pattemane was included in the starting line up.

The strategy, however, backfired immediately as the Filipinas exposed the lack of quality in the Indian defence to score at will. Janine Pontejos and Afril Bernardino were all over the hosts as they drove into the paint for easy layups and were allowed too much time on the arch to pick their basket without much trouble.

However, the Indians, who for a change, found more breathing space in the opponents’ half, were guilty of their wayward passing as chances went begging in the opening quarter. The visitors made sure that the hosts were made to pay for the misses as they ended the quarter with a 28-16 lead.

Rejuvenated force

The second quarter, however, was a different story. The Indians showed more purpose and it was no surprise that they went on to outscore the Philippines 22-13 in the quarter to reduce the deficit to just three points.

Philippines’ Ana Alicia Katrina Castillo in action during the 7/8th place classification tie against India. (Image courtesy: FIBA)
Philippines’ Ana Alicia Katrina Castillo in action during the 7/8th place classification tie against India. (Image courtesy: FIBA)Philippines’ Ana Alicia Katrina Castillo in action during the 7/8th place classification tie against India. (Image courtesy: FIBA)

Forward Shireen Limaye (23 points, 6 assists) was once again the star for the Indians as she dominated the Filipino paint to not only score her baskets but also set her teammates for quality layups.

The quarter also saw Pattemane (15 points, 3 assists) share the scoring responsibilities as the opponents could barely get hold of her as she used her pace to good effect to make the most of the transitions.

Another poor show

While the Q2 performance raised hopes of an Indian upset, the hoopsters were not able to maintain the momentum and let the match slip in the second half.

Pontejos ended the match with 18 points and four assists while Katrina Castillo banked on her distance shooting, converting five of her six opportunities from outside the range, to rake up 15 points to pile more misery on the Indians.

Though the Indians tried their bit and were successful in extracting fouls from their opponents, they struggled to convert the following free throws - much to their coach's frustration.

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