Manila (Philippines), Jul 3 (IANS): The Indian men's basketball team advanced to the second round of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers despite losing 63-79 to the Philippines in its final first-round match at the Mall of Asia Arena, here on Sunday.
The defeat in the last game meant India ended the first round without any win, losing all four fixtures in Group A. The Indian team lost 46-101 and 60-95 against New Zealand and also went down 64-84 to the Philippines in the reverse fixture.
However, India still progressed to the second round after the fourth nation in Group A, South Korea, were disqualified following a Covid-19 outbreak in their camp. A total of 12 teams from Asia and Oceania have advanced to the second round of the qualifiers, which start in August.
Playing against world No. 34 Philippines, Muin Bek Hafeez top-scored for India with 13 points while Sahaij Pratap Singh and Arvind Kumar Krishnan added 12 each. But India's inferior defence meant the Philippines walked out victorious, an olympics.com report said.
India, ranked 82nd in the world, fell behind early on as Dwight Ramos led the scoring for the hosts, helping them take a 21-10 lead in the first quarter.
The visitors upped their offence in the second period but still lagged in defence, which allowed the Philippines to add 23 more points and extend their lead to 45-24 at half-time.
Although the Philippines boasted more than a 20-point advantage at the end of the third quarter, India rallied back in the final period and cut down the difference to 14 points. But, with just two minutes of play remaining, India could not close the gap and went down fighting.