India went down fighting after taking a surprise first-half lead over reigning continental and defending champions Iran in a Group A game of the 5th FIBA Asia Cup Basketball Championship in Wuhan, China today.
After being ahead in the opening half by a dozen points at one stage, India conceded the advantage to Asian Champions Iran, ranked 20th in the world, in the third quarter and then went down 49-62 to finish the five-team group with two wins and as many losses, according to FIBA Asia website.
Their other loss was against Japan on the first day of competition. India, who had ensured their berth in the quarters yesterday by blanking bottom-placed Indonesia 91-55 after shocking hosts and former continental champions China 65-58, were powered in the main by 17 points from Amjyot Singh. But a purple patch was struck by the duo of Arsalan Kazemi and Hamed Hadadi that helped Iran muster 18 points on the trot without reply from their rivals to overturn India's advantage in the third quarter.
Kazemi, who drew a blank in his 2 attempts in the first half, got 7 of his 13 points in this period while Hadadi accounted for 9 of his 16 points. Last evening India, ranked 61st in the world and 11th in Asia and coached by American Scott Fleming, made it to the second stage of a FIBA Asia event after a long gap by riding on some superb play by their key player Vishesh Bhriguvanshi. Raghuvanshi accounted for 16 points, 5 rebounds and as many assists and the others to lead the scoring chart were Prasanna Sivakumar (15 points) and Amjyot Singh (14).