Kazakhstan handed India their first loss in the FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament. In a game that had 16 lead changes, Kazakhstan was able to pull out a 73-70 win as India's attempt at a game-tying 3 came up short.
The Indian basketball team now has two more games left to try to cement their spot among the top two teams and qualify for the final phase.
Here are 5 takeaways from this game-
India's first two games vs Syria and Indonesia in the pre-qualifying tournament had the makings of a blowout as India maintained a double-digit lead for a good portion and won both games by double digits. Even though India were challenged, somehow the outcome didn't seem to be in doubt.
In contrast, nothing felt certain for either team in this contest. There were 16 lead changes in this game. A pair of 3s helped India close the 1st quarter down 3 points, 19-16. Amjyot gave India its first lead at 25-23, four minutes into the 2nd quarter. Kazakhstan led India 37-36 at the end of the 1st half, India led 54-50 going into the 4th, and the teams swapped the lead a few times before Kazakhstan pulled away.
Kazakhstan started the game with a 9-0 run, holding India scoreless for about four minutes. A team that scored 31 points in a 1st quarter in this tournament, was held to 36 points at the half this time.
Kazakhstan's defense helped them contain the Indian offense, which wasn't firing on all cylinders in this contest. There were possessions when the frustration seemed to get the better of India. You could hear the experienced players try to calm things down saying "Koi baat nahi, game pe focus karo." (It's alright, focus on the game.") But the late spurts came up short for India.
Amjyot was on the floor for 6 minutes but he still stepped up to attempt the final shot. It was hard enough to get it off when the entire defense knew we were going for a 3, that's a look you'll live with.
India trailed 38-50 in the 3rd quarter, here's how some of the next few possessions unfolded.
Arvind assisted Pranav for a dunk
Arvind steal and layup
Arvind draws a foul
Arvind steal and layup
Arvind offensive rebound
Arvind helped spark a 16-0 run as India led 54-50 going into the 4th quarter. He would finish with a team-high 18 points and +/- of +8.
One of India's strengths has been forcing the opponents into turnovers and capitalizing on them on the break. Kazakhstan flipped the script and forced India into committing 16 turnovers while limiting theirs to 12. India's hot shooting streak fell back a bit toward the average as India shot 39% from the field.
One of the reasons the offense struggled was that it couldn't be fueled by the defense as much as it had been recently. India has been running opponents into the ground in transition but were unable to get that game going vs Kazakhstan.
When your shots aren't falling, you need to be aggressive and get to the line, putting pressure on the defense as you also hunt down the misses. Palpreet Brar was a force inside for India, he scored 13 points, pulled down 10 rebounds, and swatted away 3 shots. He made all 7 of his free throws, including a pressure-filled pair with 11 seconds to go and India down 3.
India will next face Saudi Arabia on 16th August at 5:30 PM IST, for the 2nd time this year, followed by a fight with the current table toppers Bahrain on 17th August at the same time.
Bahrain currently leads Group A with 3 wins and 0 losses. Followed by India who have a 2-1 record. Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Syria, and Kazakhstan have one win and two losses each.