Sports

FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers: Spirited India go down against world No. 27 Iran

India put up a spirited fight against a much higher ranked Iran in their Group E clash of the 2025 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers but ended up on the losing side of a 53-86 score-line at the KD Jadhav Indoor Hall, Indira Gandhi stadium in New Delhi on Monday.

Ranked 81st in the FIBA rankings, India were the underdogs against 27th ranked Iran but the hosts started with a lot of gumption as the packed stadium cheered them through-out hour-long match. Forward Pranav Prince impressed with the interceptions in the initial few minutes as the hosts took a two-point lead in the first minute.

Iran took time to get into their rhythm but moved ahead, using their superior physicality to get past the Indian defence but the hosts were definitely in the game, trailing by just three points at the end of the first quarter.

The Indians tried to counter Iran with fast-paced runs and converted over 40% of their two pointers but struggled to content Iran on the rebounds and paid the price for the same. India, who had lost their Group opener away to Kazakhstan, trailed 32-42 at half time.

Pranav Prince top scored for the hosts with 11 points with Arvind Kumar Muthu Krishnan and Muin Bek Hafeez contributing nine points each.

For Iran, Benham Yakhchali scored 15 points while Mohammad Amini and Salar Monji added 14 points each for the team.

Commenting on the team’s performance, Serbian Vaseline Matic, who is head coach of Indian team said, “India has talent, we need more experience. We have some gap now before the next qualifier in November and the national team will be participating in club championship and multiple other exposure trips. We are confident that we can give a winning performance.”

When asked which Indian player impressed him the most and in response the Iranian Coach, Hakan Demor spoke highly about the young Indian side. He said he was really impressed by the Indian forward Pranav Prince.

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