India tumbled once again and poignantly for the fifth time in as many encounters even as Japan produced a spectacular show to overpower the host team by 108 points to 58 in the FIBA-Asia women’s basketball championship here on Tuesday. This was India’s third reverse conceding more than 100 points in a match.

What little resistance that the Indians offered in the early part fizzled out when Japan began pressing the accelerator, especially in the third quarter.

The lead at the end of the first quarter was only a solitary point for Japan (21-20), but it was increased to 55-32 by halftime; then by the end of the third quarter it was 83-44, clearly mirroring the difference between class, calibre and competence.

Simply outplayed

The Indians were simply outplayed and smothered once Japan slipped into its wonted form, fluency and fervour. Ironically, it was India that was off the mark with an accurate three-pointer by Anitha Pauldurai with Prasanti Singh following with another beauty. But progressively, Japan picked up the threads, thanks to some superb basketing by Yuko Oga.

An icon back home, Oga was more than utilitarian. She was the soul and spirit of the team, figuring in almost every move and leading the squad from the front literally. It was Oga’s irresistible shooting that pulled Japan out of trouble in the early part. Once this was accomplished she allowed the rest to take over. As in the early matches, India relied heavily on Geethu Anna Jose and she did not disappoint as her individual tally of 30 point testifies.

But beyond a point Geethu was unable to break through which Prasanti Singh managed on a few occasions.

Japan’s pressure tactics eventually got the better of India, with the home team slipping to its fifth defeat in a row.

Crucial match

Everything now hinges on the qualifying encounter on Wednesday against Malaysia, the Group ‘B’ leader. If India wins, its position in the Elite zone is assured as the sixth team. Malaysia, it must be noted has won four of the five matches in the other division. Thailand, which finished fifth in the pool, ahead of India, will take on Lebanon, the No. 2 of Group B.

Overcoming a stiff challenge from Thailand — the teams were 31-31 at half-time, Chinese Taipei tightened its defence and shooting in the next two quarters to pick the fourth semifinal spot, along with Japan.

Narrow win

Later, China edged out defending champion, Korea, 75-72 to take the top spot in Group A in the last match of the league phase. The teams were 34-all at half-time.

In the semifinals, China will meet Chinese Taipei while Korea takes on Japan.

The results:

Group ‘A’: Japan 108 (Noriko Koiso 13, Ai Mitani 20, Yoshie Sakurda 26, Kumiko Yamada 15, Maki Takada 15) bt India 58 (Geethu Anna Jose 30, Raspreet Sidhu 10).

Chinese Taipei 76 (Jui-yu Lan 11, Ning Chang 16) bt Thailand 66 (Penphan Yothanan 13, Juthamas Jantakan 22, Suksomwong 12).

China 75 ( Lan Bian 11, Miao Lijie 14, Chen Xiali 17, Nan Chen 17) bt Korea 72 ( Yeon Ha Beon 23, Sun Min Jung 12, Jung Eun Park 10, Jung Eun Kim 17).

Positions: 1. China (Played 5, won 5), 2. Korea (5, 4) 3. Japan (5, 3) 4. Chinese Taipei (5, 2); 5. Thailand (5, 1), 6. India (5,0).

Group ‘B’: Malaysia 78 (Yong Shin Min 13, Yann Yann Pee 11, Suik May Kew 18) bt Uzbekistan 77 (Yuliya Tatarinova 14, Nadejda Dmitriyeva 12, Khusnitdinova 18, Inina Polunina 19).

Philippines 70 (Chovi Borja 10, Merenciana Arayi 23) bt Sri Lanka 55 (Premila Beruwalage 12, Erabdi Gallage 11, Pedige Inoka Juwan 11).

Lebanon 83 (Chinine El Charif 12, Chantelle Anderson 23, Chada Nasr 13, Sandra Najem 13) bt Kazakhstan 58 (Alishauskaite 12, Kondrakova 14, Natalya Kuzmicheva 15).

Positions: 1. Malaysia (played 5, won 4), 2. Lebanon (5, 4); 3. Kazakhstan (5, 3); 4. Philippines (5, 2); 5. Uzbekistan (5, 1); Sri Lanka (5, 0). (Malaysia takes the top place by virtue of its victory over Lebanon).

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