TOKUSHIMA (FIBA Asia Championship) - Strong contenders Qatar and Middle Asia challengers Kazakhstan were off to a flying start in their Group C campaign, without raise much sweat on the opening day on Friday.
Qatar were clinical and calculated in outplaying India 106-49 at the Asty Arena even as Kazakhs put up a powerful and precise display in overpowering Indonesia 107-53 at the Municipal Gymnasium.
Qatar were in the forefront right from the word go. Ali Saad led the Gulf nation's scoring in the opening moments - a power drive-in followed up a silken three-pointer in combination with a swift steal - as Qatar raced ahead by 10 points to seize the initiative.
India, however fought back - a 10-0 spree helping them to reduce the margin 12-13 - but once Qatar coach Ed Andrist reinstated his starting line-up (which he had substituted after the initial streak) and his team was back on rails. India attempted to keep the scoreboard ticking, only that they moved in arithmetic progression as against Qatar's geometrical progress.
"It was important that we play well consistently throughout the match," said Andrist. "I'm happy we achieved that."
"It's always tough, playing this early. In that regard, I think I have nothing to complain," he added. "I know this is only the first step. I hope we can continue."
Kazakhstan had to overcome quite a few initial hiccups. The Indonesians, qualifying from the South East Asia zone for this Championship, took advantage and raced ahead. But that proved to be a flash in the pan.
Spearheads Anton Ponomarev and Yevgenly Issakov combined with wonten cohesion as Kazakhstan came up with a 11-0 scoring spree in the last three and half minutes, a factor that went a long way in their rejuvenation. A position that only got stronger as the match progressed.
Qatar 106 (Erfan Saeed 12, Hashim Zaidan 12, Salem Omar 12) bt India 49 (Shiv Kumar 11). Quarterwise: 22-12, 48-26, 77-45.
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Kazakhstan 107 (Yevgeniy Issakov 27, Anton Ponomarev 22, Rustam Yargilew 19) bt Indonesia 53 (Mario Wuysang 21). Quarterwise: 26-17, 58-24, 89-34).