JEDDAH (Saudi Arabia) – Energized with the welcome presence of their fans in the stands, Saudi Arabia draw first blood in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifying Tournament in Jeddah by beating India 80-61.

The home team went off to a good start by pounding down in the paint, taking a 20-8 lead in the first quarter. To no surprise, they took advantage of having a rising star center in Mohammed Alsuwailem in the middle and the 23-year-old finished the game with 16 points, 12 rebounds, and a whopping 5 blocks.

 

Despite falling behind by a sizable gap in the first half, India displayed their fighting spirit as they started the second half by closing in to within three points. Joginder Singh and Sahaij Pratap Singh Sekhon were the two sharpshooters that helped India claw their way back into the game, combining for 7 three-pointers on 12 attempts.

India’s rally didn’t rattle Saudi Arabia’s energy, especially now that they had an enthusiastic crowd at the King Abdullah Sports City rooting for their team.

Coach Ali Alsanhani’s squad pushed forward with a balanced attack and a 13-0 run in the fourth quarter more than sealed the deal. Aside from Alsuwailem, Khalid Abdel Gabar (17), Mathna Almarwanin (11), Nassir Abo Jalas (11), and Fahad Belal (11) all ended up scoring in double-digits.

 

India will have to quickly regroup and solve their issues from this game as they will play tomorrow, August 21, at 18:15 (GMT +3) against Palestine. A second straight loss would mean that India are officially out of the running for Asia Cup qualification.

Saudi Arabia will have one day to rest before facing Palestine themselves on the day after on August 22 at 18:15 (GMT +3) in what should be an exciting game.

FIBA

Via Fiba