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India vanquish Kazakhstan to close Group E play
Kazakhstan actually got the jump on India in the first quarter, leading 21-19, but coach Sat Prakash’s wards would turn the tables in the second and take a 9-point advantage into the halftime break. Kazakhstan rallied in the third period, but, again, India had the proper counterpunch in the final frame, eventually gaining the upper hand for good. Together with big man Amritpal Singh, Talwinderjit — better known in India as TJ Sahi — led India to their first back-to-back wins in the competition.
Turning Point: Kazakhstan did a good job tying the game in the third period behind the trio of Nikolay Bazhkin, Pavel Micheev and Mikhail Yevstigneyev. Both teams entered the fourth quarter squared at 71-all. Things remained close when Yevstigneyev brought the Kazakhs within two, 77-75, but that’s when India rallied. Amritpal, Amjyot Singh and Yadwinder Singh combined for an 8-0 run to give India a 10-point lead that they would sustain till the final buzzer.
Stats Don't Lie: India were the bigger team here, and it showed. Coach Prakash utilized his team’s size advantage to the hilt, winning the battle of the boards, 46-30, and scoring more points in the paint, 42-32. Most of it, of course, was anchored on Amritpal, who just waylaid Kazakhstan’s froncourt.
Game Hero: Speaking of Amritpal, the 2.07m center recorded perhaps his best game of the tourney yet. He scored 27 points on 11-of-16 field goal shooting to go along with 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. He was ultra-efficient in this encounter, and nobody on coach Eduard Skrypets’s roster could contain him.
The Bottom Line: This win officially places India in the Quarter-Finals, though they are seeded as the fourth team from Group E, which means they will face the winner of the match pitting Iran against Korea. India will be tremendous underdogs whomever they face next, but if they play this well, anything can happen. Kazakhstan, meanwhile, shouldn’t be ashamed of their campaign in Tehran. This was not their deepest team, and they were missing a lot of key pieces. Despite that, they were still able to compete in every game.