DOHA: Hosts Qatar beat India 86-73 in a preliminary round match of the 23rd FIBA Asia U18 Championship, which kicked off at Al Gharafa stadium here yesterday.
Going into their Group A opener, Qatar had their share of worries. Two of their players were yet to clear the eligibility and two more were yet to rejoin the team from their vacation. So, it was little wonder that coach Brian Lester’s wore a wide grin at the end match.
Although they took the court with a depleted squad, Qatar did have the only player on either team to have played professional basketball — Abdulrahman Saad. And the young forward who was a part of Al Gharafa’s hat-trick of titles in the past QBF season reeled in an incredible 16/33 clip in field shooting for a tournament-high 40 points and was the floor leader with six rebounds and eight assists besides a steal.
“We are happy to get the win,” Lester said. “I’m definitely pleasantly surprised by the way it turned out,” the veteran Australian coach said referring to the double-digit margin of victory.
“I think there was a lot of fire in the boys to prove a point with all that’s happening around. And that carried off well on to the court,” he added. Qatar will now face 10-time gold medallists and twice-defending champions China and India have a pivotal game against Malaysia.
Earlier, hamstrung by the absence of registered coaches, Iraq and Kuwait had rather disappointing starts to their campaign — losing to Japan and Kazakhstan respectively.
Iraq breathed hard on Japan’s necks for the entire first quarter but when the latter broke away in the early part of the second quarter. THE PENINSULA