Siddarth Sharma - sidbreakball

India defeat Syria 85-74 - 5 Takeaways | FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament

Published on
August 13, 2023

India defeated Syria 85-74 in Syria in their opening game at the FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament. India were led by the all-round play of Pranav Prince who had 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists.

Here are 5 Takeaways from this game -

1 - Strong start for India

Indian basketball team

After traveling all the way to Syria, India stormed out of the gate with a 31-point 1st quarter as they led 31-16 after the opening 10 minutes. India was led by Pranav Prince channeling his inner Tayshaun Prince with one steal and one block to go with his 11 points on 5 of 5 shooting. Big man Palpreet Singh was a terror inside with 3 blocks to go with his 4 points.

India had two blocks, two steals and made 4 of 5 shots in the first four and a half minutes. Employing a full-court press helped India force 9 turnovers while committing 4. India shot 19 of 32 in the 1st half, including 4 of 9 from downtown, led by a pair of 3s from Aravind Annadurai.

India led 48-35 at the half as Pranav Prince closed the 1st half by flying to the rim for a putback dunk. Amaan Sandhu had a putback highlight of his own in this game.

2 - Balanced attack

Coach Matic deserves credit for balancing the rotations. Eight players played 8 minutes or more in the 1st half for India, with no one player playing more than 13 minutes and nine players were on the scoreboard in the 1st half for India.

Seven players scored 8 or more points for India. Pranav Prince led the way with 21 points, Amjyot Singh Gill added 12, Sahaij Sekhon dropped 10, and four more players had 8 points each (Aravind Annadurai, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, Palpreet Brar, and Harsh Dagar)

3 - Ball movement

India's attack was predicated on selfless ball movement as the team had 12 assists at the half and finished with 20 assists for the game. The fourth quarter saw India lose the ball often as the team finished with 17 turnovers. An assist-to-turnover ratio should not be worse than 2:1.

Six players had 2 or more assists for India, led by Pranav Prince's 7 dimes and Sekhon's 3 assists.

4 - Defense leading to offense

Pranav Prince
Pranav Prince was a dominant and efficient force for India

India's strong start was fueled by a fast-paced attack in the open court off of forced turnovers. India finished the game with 15 steals and 5 blocks. Eight players had at least one steal, with Sekhon's 4 swipes leading the way.

After years of watching opponents force India with a full-court press, it's gratifying to see our team turn the table with the strong pressure of our own. Vivek Ranadive would be proud, even if we can't have one player cherry-pick!

5 - Never trail

India took the lead in the 1st quarter and never looked back. At one point, India led by as many as 23 points. Syria fought back with heart and forced India into numerous consecutive turnovers in the 4th quarter, cutting the lead to 7 with 3:37 left in the game.

Robert Horry is one of the most clutch players the NBA has ever seen. When he came to Mumbai for NBA's Saturday Morning Live show, I got to ask him something I've wondered for years - What do you enjoy more, the roar of your home crowd when you hit a big shot or the feeling of silencing a raucous away crowd with a dagger? Big Shot Bob told me that while he loves making the home crowd happy, there's nothing like the feeling of going on the road and hushing an away crowd.

Pranav Prince got to experience that today as he silenced the crowd in Syria for a while, before the home team stormed back and gave them new life. A pair of free throws from Palpreet and a technical free throw from Amjyot pushed the lead to double digits again.

Each of the lower-ranked teams won their games in Group A in the 1st day's games. The next five days look to be full of exciting drama.

Fun fact - The nets hanging on the rims reminded me of the National Championship at Udaipur, both nets were tied into knots at the end.

Here's a full preview of India's upcoming games in this contest. India will face Indonesia on Sunday. Stay tuned for the recap here and on my Instagram page - Sidbreakball.

Siddarth Sharma - sidbreakball

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