India outplayed Bangladesh 120-26 after leading 63-17 at halftime to storm into the final of the Middle Asia qualifying basketball tournament at the Thyagaraj Indoor Stadium here on Thursday.
In the other semifinal, Sri Lanka literally ran Nepal to the ground, in recording a 65-44 victory.
India had beaten Sri Lanka comprehensively in the only league match in Group ‘A' and would seek to enhance its reputation a lot further.
It was a high quality fare by the Indian team, with everyone contributing to the team's tally, though the American coach Kenny Natt did not hide his annoyance when the team went through the nervous 90s, perhaps forgetting the instructions. What caught the eye was the freedom with which the players operated, tightening the defence and at the same time asserting their strike power.
The team was quite dynamic through all the four quarters, and made it a point to execute a strong finish, much in contrast to the opening match, as India scored 34 points in the last quarter and conceded one point to Bangladesh.
Except Jagdeep Singh, who was quite aggressive in going for the baskets, the rest played at a regular pace, and everyone got into the scoring act. Vishesh Bhriguvanshi and Amritpal Singh ended up as the top scorers with 18 points each.
Sambhaji Kadam was once again quite entertaining with his imaginative passes that were accurate in finding his teammates, but caught the opposition rooted to the ground.
The coach made it a point to rotate the players, and in fact had two sets of players to start the alternate quarters. Kadam, Bhriguvanshi, Trideep Rai, Yadwinder Singh and Jagdeep Singh started the match, while Amjyot Singh, Hareesh Koroth, Prakash Mishra, Amritpal Singh and Riyaz-ud-din were the main players to initiate action in the second and fourth quarters. The young and huge-built Satnam Singh was quite confident whenever he got a chance to stride on the court, and managed to collect nine points during his short stay.
It was indeed hard on the Bangladesh team that had already played two league matches in less than 24 hours, including one in the morning, to put up a fight against the best team in the tournament. The players were unable to push themselves much, and could bulge the score thanks to three three-pointers.
Mithun Kumar Biswas (9), Md. Mahmudul Hasan Shawn (6), Shre Mithun Sarker (5), Md. Shamsuzzaman Khan (2), Md. Khaled Mahmud Akash (2) and Md. Rasheduzzaman (2) were successful in finding the basket for Bangladesh.
The results: Semifinals: India 120 (Amritpal Singh 18, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi 18, Jagdeep Singh 14, Trideep Rai 14, Eudrick Pereira 10) bt Bangladesh 26; Sri Lanka 65 (Praneeth 22, Chamthgokula Danawansa 15, Prageeth Pushpa Kumara 11) bt Nepal 44 (Binod Maharjan 17).
Group B: Nepal 64 (Sadish Pradhan 24, Bipendra Maharjan 16, Sanjay Byanjankar 11) bt Bangladesh 61 (Shre Mithun Sarker 19, Mithun Kumar Biswas 17).
Keywords: Middle Asia basketball