The Central & East Asia Qualifying Tournament for the Asia Para Games got underway at the Bangkok Youth Centre, in Thailand on Sunday 4th March.
The qualifying tournament commenced on Sunday morning with a brief opening ceremony where the Minister for Sport and Tourism, Mr Weerasak Kosurat welcomed all teams to Thailand and praised the Thai Local Organising Committee (LOC), as well as promising ongoing financial support for future tournaments in Bangkok. Thanks also went to the primary sponsor Singha, who presented a cheque for 540, 000 baht to the LOC along with providing all the water and sports drinks for the competition
Following the opening ceremony, hosts Thailand took on Afghanistan in the men’s competition. A spirited start from Afghanistan saw them lead a very nervous Thailand for most of the first quarter but the home side settled into their game in the second period to take a comfortable 20 point lead into halftime. The Afghani team were outpaced in the second half against a determined Thailand going down 75-25 at the end.
Pongsakorn Sripirom (22), Athin Sindong (16) and Aekkasit Jumjarean (14) were the main contributors for Thailand, while for Afghanistan’s Basir Amir Tajiki made double figures (10) to lead their scorers.
The second day began with India entral & East Asia Qualifying Tournament gets underway men’s team, making their debut at their first senior IWBF tournament, matching up against one of the Zones’ regular competitors Chinese Taipei. The experience of Chinese Taipei was clear as they quickly opened up a commanding lead. In the latter stages of the game, with the game comfortably in their keeping, Chinese Taipei eased back and allowed India to put into practice more of their game structures which will prove valuable as they progress through the week. Chinese Taipei taking out the game, 87-24.
Chinese Taipei had 5 players in double figures, with Chun-Yi Lu (18) & Chun-Nan Chi (12) leading the way, whilst for India Varun Karkhanis (8) worked hard all game for his points.
In the opening women’s game of the tournament, Iran opened strongly against hosts Thailand to take a six-point lead into the first break. The second period was much more even and only seven points separated the teams at halftime, however, a strong second half from Iran extended their lead to run out 15-point victors, 45-30.
The speed and height of the Iranian women proved difficult for Thailand to manage, and even when they found themselves with several players fouled out of the game, their depth proved to be the difference. Iran had a good spread of players scoring 8 points, but the stand out for the game was Thailand’s Natnapa Ponin with 20 points for the game.
The second women’s game had Afghanistan line up against India. The Afghani women showed that they had benefitted from their time at Zone development events and with a well-structured game they easily accounted for the novice team from India. Extending their lead in every period, they ran away with the game to finish 54-6 victors. Mulkara Rahimi, Frishta Mesri and Shabana Akbari, all with 10 points shared the scoring for Afghanistan in a comfortable win.
Two of the more favoured teams in the competition, Malaysia and China, continued the men’s programme. As the lead exchanged hands a number of times in the first half, it was China who went to the long break just 5 points ahead. Despite having a limited roster of players, China pulled away in the second half to run out 56-38 winners.
Malaysia struggled after their power forward Zakaria fouled out, which left them unable to match China in the paint, exploited by Yinhai Lin (28) and Yiquan Li (12) who went unchallenged rebounding on a number of occasions. For Malaysia, Ahmad Nazri Hamzah (10) and Hafizuddin Bahrin (8) worked hard all game, but could not keep China from taking the points in the end.
The Indonesia men’s team, returned to international competition after many years of not competing, coming up against Hong Kong. Their inexperience showed as they struggled to hold out a well-drilled team who spread the scoring over several players. Hong Kong extended their lead at every break finishing the game solid winners, 54-20. Wing Kin Chan reached double figures for Hong Kong, while for Indonesia Donald Putra Santoso showed his time playing in the USA was valuable contributing 12 of his teams score.
The final game of the day had Laos and Cambodia, two women’s teams competing internationally for the first time, and it needed a double overtime to separate the two. In a very defensive game, scoring proved difficult for both teams, as Cambodia held a slender two-point halftime lead. An even third period, and with only seconds remaining on the clock in the final quarter Laos tied the game. It all looked over as Cambodia pushed ahead to a six-point lead in overtime, but Laos were not to be denied as Itsaly scored three times from three offences to once again level the scores. Finally, in the second overtime, Cambodia through An Sinet making four consecutive baskets held on to win, 36-29.
The celebrations on the Cambodian bench finished the day on a high for all that were there to witness the game. Sinet led the way for Cambodia with 22 points, while for Laos Itsaly (13) and Vilayphone Khammykoun (10) top-scored.