India demolished Sri Lanka 89-35 in the final of the Middle Asia Zone qualifiers at the Thyagraj Stadium in New Delhi on Friday to qualify for Group A of the 26th FIBA Asia Championship to be held in Wuhan (China) in September. India is grouped together with Lebanon,Korea,and Malaysia.
With lopsided victories in the competition India won with scores of 99-42 against Sri Lanka in the group match,120-26 against Bangladesh in the semis before the final coach Kenny Natt hoped his team would not get cocky.
India regularly qualifies for the FIBA Asia Championship but their best result 4th came way back in 1972. Last time they finished 13th out of 16 teams. Its good to win but its tough to know where you could get better when you are winning by such large margins every night. I hope the players understand that it wont be like this every time, he said. Natt however said that he was impressed with his teams intelligence and execution of his plans. That proves I can really go and challenge these guys, he said.
Once again,India played their now-trademark defensive game,and shared the ball extremely well to dominate their opponents. By halftime,India had an unassailable 51-11 lead,and cruised for the rest of the game to make it an 89-35 win. Where India once again failed to assert themselves was in the final quarter in which they scored 16 points. They also managed just 2 in the final three minutes.
While the last quarter performance hurt,the 23 turnovers India conceded in the match clearly rankled Natt. It was a matter of a loss of focus. We havent arrived yet. There is a long way to go. If you concede 23 turnovers against a good team,they will bury you. We have got to become better, he said.