Mumbai: India, ranked 11th in the continent and 61st in the world, stunned favourites China 65-58 in a Group A game of the 5th FIBA Asia Cup basketball championship for a historic first-ever triumph over the world's 12th-ranked nation at Wuhan.
Pratham Singh and Amjyot Singh yesterday accounted for 13 points apiece, while pivotal player Vishesh Bhriguvanshi notched up 10 points as India led the continental giants by 15 points after the second quarter, according to FIBA Asia website.
In head-to-head record, 15-time winners of the Asian Basketball Championship, China had won all their seven previous meetings in the FIBA ABC between the two rivals, by at least 30 points on each occasion, but this was the first time the two teams met in the FIBA Asia Cup.
It was India's first win in two games in the five-team group also comprising Asia no. 2 Iran, no. 7 Japan and no. 14 Indonesia. Coach Scott Fleming said it was a surprise to him why this, a victory over China, had not happened earlier. "In fact, I'm more surprised that this was the first win for India against China.
Because we have a lot of potential and this should have happened much earlier," Flemming told FIBA Asia website. "For me personally, this win was another game in this competition. We have lot more games to go. But for these guys (the players) it's a great result for all the hard work they have put all these years," the American said. "I'm so happy for these players.
And I'm so happy for the country. I've coached for 32 years in the USA, and the only reason I came here win or lose was to make a difference in the lives of these players. "There were a few questions asked when we won in January (the Lusofonia Games gold medal beating Angola).
I think this win last night adds credibility to that earlier victory. With this win, we are no longer a team with just potential. We can also perform to prove it," Fleming added. "Well, this is a young team. Such results are expected. They (India) really deserved the win because they certainly played better than us," China coach Wang Huaiyu said.