Jr. NBA Global C'ships: India boys go down fighting against Canada in quarters
By Debayan Mukherjee
Orlando, Aug 10 (IANS) Trailing 16-25 at halftime, the Indian Under-14 boys almost pulled off an improbable heist before agonisingly going down 56-64 in Over Time to heavyweights Canada in a rip-roaring quarter final contest of the Jr. NBA Global Championships here at HP Fieldhouse courts on Saturday.
Promising guards Harsh Dagar (20 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists) and Lokendra Singh (13 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists) put in an all-round performance while forward Kushal Singh also contributed by scoring 14 points and 8 rebounds as the boys in green did not lose a single quarter after being drubbed 7-16 in the first period to take the game to over time.
In added time of four minutes, Canada edged India out 7-15 before being held by the scruff of their neck 9-9, 19-12, 14-12 in the previous three quarters.
While the boys were inconsolable even an hour after the game finished, spectators at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex could not stop talking about their performance against a country which houses the reigning NBA champions, Toronto Raptors.
To put the boys' performance into perspective, there are more Canadians than ever in the NBA now (12 Canadian-born players appeared in at least one game in the 2018-2019 season) with their youth programmes reaching record numbers.
"We always win or we learn. We never lose. We have learnt many things from here," Delhi boy Dagar said after the game.
"We were confident before the match we could beat them. We can beat USA. If we keep our teammates together," he added.
Marc Pulles, Basketball Operations Team Leader - NBA India, said the boys can be very proud of their performance.
"It was a close game and truly a great showcase of how competitive we can be, with a solid come back, eventually pushing the game to overtime. While it could have gone either ways, the boys should be proud of their performance, be it their skills, passion or attitude," the Spaniard said.
Playing an hour after the boys, the girls could not replicate their show as they went down 25-62 to their Canada counterparts in the quarter-final.
Shomira Bidaye top-scored for India with 10 points.
The Indian colts took four minutes to open their account with the Canadians racing to a 12-point lead.
Dagar, who has been one of the team's linchpins along with Lokendra, logged the first points for India with a crisp three-pointer.
It was only in the second quarter that India started their fightback. From being 5-9 down at one stage, the boys went into halftime 9-9, but still nine points behind their more fancied rivals.
The third period belonged to India as they defended with a lot of grit and converted their chances to rally from 2-7 down at one stage and win 19-12 to cut the deficit to 35-37.
India won the last quarter also to drag the game to over time but there were moments in that passage where things could have gone in their favour had they converted the chances and free throws.
With 27 seconds remaining, it was 47-49 before Kushal Singh scored the all-important two points to tie the game.
The Indians never threw in the towel in over time but Canadians, riding Remil Tissington's good show -- he finished as the highest score in the game with 25 points -- held firm to seal the victory.
India will now take part in positive finish games on Saturday.
RESULTS (Both Quarter-finals)
Boys: Canada (Remil Tissinggton 25) bt India (Harsh Dagar 20, Kushal Singh 14, Lokendra Singh 13) 64-56 in Over-Time (16-7, 9-9, 12-19, 12-14, OT 15-7)
Girls: Canada (Milana Nenadic 11) bt India (Shomira Bidaye 10, Dhara Phate 4, Moumita Mishra 4, Muskan Singh 4, Bhumika Sarje 3) 65-26 (28-9, 13-6, 14-2, 10-9)