DOHA: Malaysia beat hosts Qatar 78-70 to post their maiden win in the preliminary round of the 23rd FIBA Asia U18 Championship yesterday.
It was Malaysia’s first victory in a FIBA Asia U18 Championship in more almost four years — they last beat Sri Lanka 86-52 in a preliminary round game at the 21st FIBA Asia U18 Championship in Sana’a, Yemen, in 2010.
But importantly, yesterday’s result propelled Malaysia on par with Qatar and India in a three-way tie for the second spot — behind China — in Group A’s race for a place in the Second Round of the event.
Currently, all three teams have won only one of their three games in the preliminary round. But the eight-point margin of yesterday’s victory helped Malaysia finish with 0.993 goals average from points in games among the three teams ahead of India who had finished with 0.973.
Although the margin of victory was insufficient for Malaysia to surpass Qatar — who finished with 1.033 — the win ensured that it was Malaysia who carried forward an additional win from the preliminary round with Qatar having to start from scratch in their Second Round Group E games against Korea, Philippines and Jordan.
“There was no special instruction to the boys. We just told them to go out there, play their best and get a win,” said Malaysia coach Yong Kian Ann.
“We had done our calculations but we didn’t talk about it. We didn’t want the boys get under pressure,” the coach hailing from Johor Bahru said.
Twice reigning gold medallists China will open their campaign in the Second Round of the 23rd FIBA Asia U18 Championship today with a game against Jordan while hosts Qatar will line up against Philippines.