At the Central and East Asia Qualifying Tournament it was the women’s side of the draw that got day four underway, as hosts Thailand were up against fellow newcomers India, in what proved to be a lopsided affair. The Thailand coaching staff rotated their players regularly and allowed plenty of opportunity for all players to have extended court time, and although India could not match them for speed and ball control, they maintained their enthusiasm and match intensity throughout. The final score of 54-8 was indicative of Thailand’s ability to better shoot the ball. Thailand’s Ponin with 18 points and Jala with 10 points were the main scorers.
On court two, Cambodia took on Afghanistan women, which provided the closest game of the day, with both looking to improve their standing in the rankings. Afghanistan began the stronger and outscored their opponents in the first two periods and looked to be comfortable at halftime even though only leading by six. They extended their lead to ten at the final change and most thought they were safely home, however not to be denied Cambodia came back strongly in the last period thanks to An Sinet scoring seven unanswered points as they threatened to take us once more into overtime. Afghanistan hung on in the dying minutes and with two late baskets held on to win 33-26. Cambodia’s An Sinet (15) led all scorers while for the Afghanistan Somaya Noori hit 12 points.
In the men’s tournament, it was the top of the pool decider between Chinese Taipei and Thailand, who were both looking to keep their unblemished record intact. It was tournament favourites Thailand who were able to take control early, and after two solid quarters led by 17 at the long break. A dominant third period saw Thailand put the game beyond doubt as they outscored Chinese Taipei 24-7 to double their halftime advantage. Chinese Taipei edged the last period, but it was all too late as Thailand were safely home, 70-38 and top Pool B. In a dominant display Aekkasit Jumjarean topped the scorers with 28 points, well supported by Roongrote Chaiman (15) and Pongsakorn Sripirom (12), while Li Chun-Li (11) and Teng Ho-Cheng (8) worked hard to lead the scoring for Chinese Taipei.
Indonesia’s men had another tough assignment as they squared up against Malaysia. Once again they were outgunned by a far more experienced team, who were able to exploit Indonesia’s lack of regular competition. For Malaysia Johari top scored with 13 points, whilst the rest of the scoring was shared across the field. Donald Santoso’s 10 points headed Indonesia’s sheet. A solid performance saw Malaysia take the win, 58-13 and secure second place in pool A.
Both India and Afghanistan were looking for their first wins of the tournament against each other. After an even first period, it was the Afghani’s previous international experience that proved dividend as they outscored India and increased their lead at every change. India had at times the better of the court play but were unable to convert their scoring opportunities, finally going down 73-37. For Afghanistan, the scoring was well spread across several players, with only Sayed Wasim Sadat (12) reaching double figures. India’s Venkatram led all scorers for the game with 16 points.
In the last women’s game of the day, Iran proved too strong for Laos. Again, it was the established programme of Iran that was evident against the first-timers from Laos. The well drilled Iranians took the win 53-14 to remain 3-0. Three players reached double figures for Iran, Mahsa and Sahar with 14 points apiece and Fattaneh hit 11.
In the final game of the day, it was Hong Kong who were looking to cause the upset again unbeaten China, but it was not to be. China were solid all night and built on their lead at every period to seal the win 61 – 28 and seal top spot in Pool A. China’s Li Yiquan (22) led the way with good support from Deng Jianchun (14) and Lin Yinhai (12).
It promises to be an interesting day, as the men’s competition moves into the quarterfinals tomorrow, with the four winners qualifying for the Asian Para Games in October.