Level 1 Qualification Game of the 23rd FIBA Asia Women Championship, Chennai (India).
CHENNAI (23rd FIBA Asia Women Championship) - India gave their tallest player Harjeet Kaur the longest game-time in the Championship and the 190-cm forward returned a game-high 31 points to help India to their first win in the Championship.
India’s 90-74 win over Malaysia helped them remain in Level I for the next edition.
Malaysia, who were relegated to Level II after losing to India in the play-off in the last edition, will have to wait for another two years to take a shot regaining their position in Level I.
“It was a part of our game plan to use our height advantage,” said India coach JP Singh about using Harjeet for 30:51 in the game as against her average of 13 minutes per game in India’s previous five outings here.
And Harjeet matched her time on the court with a performance that was much higher than her 2.8 PPG and 3 RPG earlier.
The 21-year-old also collected 16 rebounds – 11 in defense.
Geethu Anna Jose’s 21 points and 11 rebounds thus found some unprecedented support.
“Our coach told us this morning ‘we have one bullet left. We can either use it well or die in the battle.’ Just that things worked well for us,” said Harjeet.
“I think motivation was the key factor for us today,” said JP Singh.
“True we had lost all the games in Level I, but if we had lost today, we would have had to wait for another four years to play in the top level. And I think all the girls were aware of that,” he added.
Malaysia were caught by surprise by Harjeet’s extended presence on the court, but more importantly their three-pointer percentage suffered.
“We didn’t expect Harjeet to play that long at all. We had made our plans for Geethu and Kiranjeet Kaur. But this was a surprise,” Malaysia coach Tan See Wah said.
“In a way we have helped India realize Harjeet’s potential,” he chuckled.
Goh Beng Fong was the highest scorer for Malaysia with 15 points and Pee Yann Yann contributed 14.