By Debayan Mukherjee
Orlando, Aug 8 (IANS) In their bid to showcase the world what they got, budding Indian cagers squandered crucial advantages against their international opponents to end the second day of the Junior NBA Global Championships without registering a single win after playing four matches, as pool play among international teams concluded at HP Fieldhouse courts on Thursday.
In the first match of the day, the girls team frittered a halftime lead of 20-12 to end up losing 36-57 against Africa.
The boys, in India’s last engagement of the day, met with similar fortunes as they wasted a 15-point advantage at the break to lose 41-51 against Europe and Middle East.
In between these two matches, India boys and girls were thrashed 21-63 and 23-62 by Africa and Europe and Middle East respectively.
While the boys finished third in the four-team group also comprising Latin America — whom they beat on Wednesday — the girls remained winless from three outings, finishing last in the pool.
This being a tournament where teams from across the globe get a chance to play in the best facilities and rub shoulders with their US counterparts, every team in the international bracket is given a chance to play in the single elimination round, which is on Saturday, where India boys and girls will take on their Canadian counterparts.
After a forgettable outing against Africa, the Indian boys were off to a flying start against Europe & Middle East. While the first quarter went to them 20-8, the second quarter was won by a scoreline of 10-7 as India went into halftime with a healthy 30-15 lead.
Forward Kushal Singh, who ended with 15 points, starred for the India U-14 team with his stylish 3-pointer in the second quarter being the highlight.
It looked like a disappointing day would end on a high but just like the girls, it all fell apart from the third quarter where India managed just five points to Europe & Middle East’s 20 as the quarter ended in a 35-35 tie.
India did not score a basket for almost 10 minutes before Lokendra Singh scored with 4. Twenty-four minutes left on the hooter in the final quarter which was dominated by Europe & Middle East as they racked up 17 points to India’s six and seal the deal 52-41.
Coming to the U-14 girls, they picked themselves up well after a torrid performance on Wednesday against Latin America to take a 20-12 lead at halftime. It was a cagey affair till Muskan Singh scored two points with a pullup jump shot to help India nose ahead 11-10 from being down 9-10.
Shomira Bidaye cashed in on the momentum with a brilliant 3-pointer to make it 14-10 as India finished the second quarter with an eight-point lead. Besides Muskan and Osheen, Jeevika Kumar also did her bit with a 3-pointer in the second period.
But all hopes of a memorable win nosedived post the breather as the Africans bounced back in style riding Elalfy’s individual brilliance.
Africa pulled back to level at 27-27 after Elalfy converted a pair of free throws and Kadidia Traore added another point with a layup shot. Africa finished with 24-9 in the third quarter and killed the contest in the fourth with another dominating 21-7 as they won 57-36.
In their next match, Europe & Middle East were too strong for the Indian girls.
Indian players are among eight international teams including Africa, Latin America, Asia Pacific, Canada, China, Europe & Middle East, and Mexico competing in the global meet.
For the very first time Sony Pictures Sports Network are broadcasting select Jr. NBA Global Championship games in India, totalling over 12 hours of programming.
Girls: Africa (Jana Ehabu Elalfy 24) bt India (Muskan Singh 11, Shomira Bidaye 6, Osheen Singh 5, Bhumika Sarje 5, Dhara Phate 4) 57-36 (8-8, 4-12, 24-9, 21-7)
Girls: Europe & Middle East (Ugne Sirtautaite 14) bt India (Manmeet Kaur 7, Shomira Bidaye 7) 62-23
Boys: Africa (Marouf Moumine 19) bt India (Harsh Dagar 7, Dev Premi 5, Sachin Yadav 4) 63-21 (23-7, 20-7, 7-5, 13-2).
Boys: Europe & Middle East (Nemanja Sarenac 15 , Grigorii Kushneruk 12, Domonkos Szalay 8) bt India (Kushal Singh 15, Lokendra Singh 11) 52-41 (8-20, 7-10, 20-5, 17-6).
(Debayan Mukherjee can be reached at [email protected])