The penultimate day of the Central and East Asia Qualifying Tournament in Bangkok, Thailand began with India and Indonesia both looking for their first win of the week. India took an early lead as Indonesia struggled to bring the ball up the court. India built on their good start to hold a 16-point advantage at halftime. A solid second half was had by Indonesia as India appeared to tire, but Indonesia could not erase the deficit from the first half and finally went down 60-39. The win confirmed for India that their men’s team were on the right path to developing the team, as they controlled the court more and gave themselves better scoring opportunities. Captain Parthasarathi Venkatram headed India’s scorers with 19, while big man Varun Karkhanis followed with 10. For Indonesia Donald Santoso had his best game of the week to register a massive 32 points.

In the second game, Hong Kong were keen to make up for the disappointment of their quarterfinal loss as they took on the ever-improving Afghanistan. After a fairly even first period, Hong Kong put some breathing space between the teams with a 19-7 second quarter. Afghanistan kept the score level in the third, and in the final ten mounted a comeback which had the spectators on the edge of their seats, but despite getting to within 5 late in the game, Hong Kong proved too strong to overcome and the Afghani’s finally succumbed by 11. 66-55. Alphonsus To (18) led the way for Hong Kong, ably supported by Cheng Yan Keung & Chung Cheuk Ting (both 14) and Hai Poon who also made double figures. For Afghanistan, Sayed Wasim Sadat (24) and Rahimzai (14) did the bulk of the scoring.

In the women’s competition, Cambodia women proved too fast and skillful for India, and their defensive pressure held India to no points for the first quarter. A lead of which they built on to go into the long break up by 15. In the second half Cambodia remained steady and came out the easy winners, 45-19. Cambodia’s Chanty Ho top scored with 12 points, whilst the remaining points were evenly spread across the Cambodian lineup. Vinolia Lawrence was India’s best with 9.

Thailand women continued on with their winning ways next with a fairly comprehensive win over Laos. Extending their lead in every period, they finished the game as winners, 39-17. Again the height and manoeuvrability of Natnapa Ponin proved too much for the opposition to handle as she scored 23 of Thailand’s points. Parichat Yamarun gave valuable assistance with 11. Laos shared the scoring as they struggled to break the effective Thai defence.

In the second semi-final of the day Malaysia were keen to atone for their loss to Thailand in the final at the recent ASEAN Games on their home turf. Anything looked possible as only one point separated the two of them at the end of the first quarter. Thailand started to pull away in the second and led by 9 at halftime, as Malaysia could not find a way through the Thai press. However that changed in the second half as they matched Thailand around the court, but unfortunately could not close the gap, as Malaysia went down 68-56. Thailand’s Aekkasit Jumjarean, Pongsakorn Sripirom and Kwanchai Pimkorn all hit double figures with 20, 18  and 14 points respectively, while for Malaysia, Freday Tan (14), Ahmad Nazri Hamzah (14) and Muhammad Atib Zakaria (13) all contributed.

In the second semi-final of the day, China planned to keep their unbeaten record intact as they fronted up to Chinese Taipei. China went ahead by 10 points in the first period, but Chinese Taipei won both the second and third to only trail by 7 at the last break. But China were not to be denied, and on the back of some strong shooting from Lin Yinhai (19) and Li Yiquan (18) they ran out winners 51-39. Tsai Wei-Cheng (10) was the only player from Chinese Taipei to reach double figures, as the points were evenly spread.

Last game of the day between the women from unbeaten Iran and Afghanistan, which on paper looked comfortable for Iran – but Afghanistan had other ideas. To the raucous delight of their bench and men’s team, they rushed ahead to a 15-8 first quarter lead, but Iran re-grouped and went on an 18-1 run in the second period to go to snatch the lead and go into the half 10 points up. After an even third period, Iran again stretched ahead and held Afghanistan scoreless in the last to win 40-23. Iran’s Mahsa Saadatzeinadanloo topped the scoresheet with 16, as Afghanistan shared the points amongst five players.

In the Finals tomorrow Iran and Thailand play for gold in the women’s competition whilst China meet Thailand in the men’s.