After going winless in the pool games in Group A, the Indian women had to face-off against their counterparts from the Philippines in a high-stakes 7-8 classification game.
The winner of this contest would finish seventh in the final standings of FIBA Women's Asia Cup 2021 and remain in Division A, while the loser would be relegated to Division B.
India, ranked 70th in the world, had their task cut out for them, against a Philippines squad that was ranked 51st in the world. However, they fought real hard and led for a majority of the game but eventually come out on the wrong side of a heartbreaking 74-70 final score.
Here are the biggest takeaways from this game:
India's positive first half
This matchup was a rematch of the 7-8 classification game from two years ago, which the Philippines won 92-78. In the first half, India played like they had no recollection of that game.
Courtesy of a 19-13 first quarter, the Indian women led for nearly all of the first half including holding their largest lead of the game of 10.
At halftime, leading 39-34, the Senthil Kumar sisters had contributed for much of India's offense. The duo had scored 19 points in the first half, doing most of their damage in the first quarter when they made 15 of the team's 19 points in the first quarter.
The daunted third quarter
Across the three group games, India's biggest weakness seemed to be their play coming out of halftime. In the third quarter, they have been outscored by an average of 22 points - the most among all their periods.
In the game against the heavily favoured Korea, India never let the game turn into a blowout until they were outscored 33-7 in the third. Against Japan and New Zealand, they were outscored by 24 and 16 respectively.
This crucial contest also turned in the third quarter for India. Philippines, on the back of a 21-13 third quarter, took the lead midway through the third period and never looked back.
Shireen Vijay Limaye, the captain, was the biggest contributor as she stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block in 34 minutes of action.
Pushpa, one half of the Senthil Kumar sisters and an alum of the NBA Academy India Women's Camps, came a close second as she finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks in 38 minutes of playing time. Her sister Sathiya played 30 minutes and recorded 12 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals.
The trio played a huge role in India outrebounding Philippines 51-42, outscoring them in the paint (28-24) and in second-chance points (16-6). Madhu Kumari (10 points) and Nishanthi Masilamani (nine points, seven assists) were the other key performers for India.
In fact, the Indian women dished out more assists (24-22) but they turned the ball over 22 points which led to 25 teams. Another crucial aspect of the game that India were outplayed was the shotmaking from beyond the arc as Philippines knocked down 15 3-pointers while India managed seven.
For Philippines, Ana Alicia Katrina Castillo and Janine Pontejos were the top performers. Being the only two players to score in double figures, they scored 22 points apiece, with 33 of their combined 44 coming from beyond the 3-point on 11-of-26 shooting.
The loss means for the second (2021, 2015) time in their last three appearances, India has been relegated to Division B. It's the second straight Women's Asia Cup that India have finished eighth and last among the Division A teams.
The Indian Women's team is now relegated and will compete in Division B of the 2023 edition of the FIBA Women's Asia Cup.
They will be replaced in Division A by the nation that wins Division B of the 2021 edition of the FIBA Women's Asia Cup, which is slated to be held in Jordan in Nov. 2021.
Images courtesy FIBA.com
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