India outplayed Nepal 109-26 after leading 61-13 at half-time in the inaugural match of the South Asia basketball qualifying tournament at the Thyagaraj Indoor Stadium in New Delhi on Sunday.
In the three-team competition in which the winner will make it to the 27th FIBA Asian championship to be played in Manila, Philippines, in August, India will next play Afghanistan in the last league match on Tuesday.
Trained by coach Scott Flemming over the last few months, the 58th ranked Indian men’s team was superior and proved too strong for the inexperienced Nepal, which does not have a rank. The Nepalese lacked the basics and skill to make a meaningful challenge.
India played as if it was going through a training drill, with a sparse gathering in attendance. While Amritpal Singh top-scored with 17 points, Joginder Singh, Narender Kumar Grewal, Rikin Pethani, Basil Philip and Ranbir Singh Virdi scored in double figures.
In fact, everyone in the Indian squad got a chance to play and everyone scored at least three points except for Sambhaji Kadam who was busy feeding the rest of the team with his imaginative play in the short time that he got to be on the field.
When it scored two three-pointers at the start and was 8-13, it looked as if Nepal could stay at some distance if not catch up with the speed of Indian scoring. However, India scored 24 points on the trot at this stage to scotch any hopes or a semblance of a fight. The Nepal players, happy to be anonymous as they did not sport any name on the back of their shirts, converted five three-pointers, five two-pointers and one out of four free throws in the whole match, even as India scored at will.
The only jarring note in the Indian camp was the unimaginative naming of the players on the back of their t-shirts as six players were identified as Singh. That apart, the Indian team kept to a steady spell of scoring as it punched 24, 27, 27 and 21 points in the four quarters, as compared to 8, 5, 9 and 4 by Nepal.
The result: India 109 (Amritpal Singh 17, Narender Kumar Grewaal 14, Joginder Singh 14, Basil Philip 13, Rikin Pethani 12, Ranbir Singh Virdi 10) bt Nepal 26.