In Division 2 of the men’s competition at the 2019 Asia Oceania Championships, Chinese Taipei and Saudi Arabia both got wins in Pool A over Afghanistan and Indonesia respectively.
The first game on court 2 was Chinese Taipei against an ever-improving Afghanistan team. There was hardly anything between the two teams at half-time as Chinese Taipei edged out to a five-point advantage, 37-32. Afghanistan struggled to maintain the trio of scoring threats in Ho-Cheng Teng, Chun-Yi Lu, and Chun Su, with all three making double figures – 23 points, 19 points, and 13 points respectively – as Chinese Taipei went on to seal the victory by eleven points, 61-50.
Top-scorer for the game was Chinese Taipei’s Ho-Cheng Teng with 23 points, whilst for Afghanistan Shahpoor Surkhabi led the charge with 14 points.
Saudi Arabia closed out the day with a stress-free victory over Indonesia, 66-26. The young Indonesians, who debuted four new players, toiled from the start and lost the first half, 30-10. The height and physical presence inside the key of the Saudi Arabians caused Indonesia problems throughout the game as they made 44 points inside the paint. Despite their flashes of brilliance, Indonesia were inconsistent under the basket, shooting at just 18%, which was reflected in the final score. Saudi Arabia finished with four players in double figures with Abdullah Alfifi leading the way on 14 points. Lalu Idrus made 8 points to finish as Indonesia’s highest scorer.
There were wins for Iraq and Malaysia in Pool B. Iraq cruised to a comfortable 67-30 win against debutantes to the competition India. Iraq’s experience showed especially in terms of converting opportunities as they outshot India by 40% to 29% from the field winning all four quarters 14-4, 18-10, 17-4 and 18-12. It was a determined performance by India, with all players getting minutes and providing opportunities for scoring. Iraq’s Saif Al-Taie topped all scorers with 30 points, with India’s Ramesh Shanmugam top scoring for his team with 10 points.
In the other game in Pool B, Malaysia were pushed early on by the Philippines. It was only thanks to an 8-0 run at the end of the first half that allowed Malaysia a little breathing space to take a ten-point lead into half-time, 27-17. Malaysia’s defensive pressure in the third proved effective and gave them a bigger margin of fifteen points going into the final 10 minutes. Whilst the Philippines won the fourth by two, it wasn’t to be enough as Malaysia picked up 24 points from turnovers for the game to get their first win on the board, 54-41.
Malaysia’s Muhamad Atib Zakaria top scored with 18 points, followed closely by Philippines’ Alfie Cabanog, who made a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds.
The championships, being hosted by the Sports Association for Wheelchair Basketball Thailand, will tell us which countries from the Asia Oceania Zone will qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Tomorrow is the first full day of action with 10 matches over two courts over the course of the day.