Changsha (China), Sep 29: Notwithstanding their loss to Philippines today, the Indian senior men's basketball team qualified for the quarter-finals of the 28th FIBA Asia Championship here.
India were outplayed by Philippines 99-65, but sealed their knockout berth - first time since 2003 -on the basis of two wins in the last three games.
While India and Palestine finished with the same Group record of 2-3, the Indian cagers won their only head-to-head match-up and will move on to face the Pool F topper, who will be determined by the winner of the China-Qatar match-up later in the evening.
Commenting on the achievement, veteran forward Yadwinder Singh said, "We are ecstatic to have qualified and all the players have put in a lot of effort. Compared to teams in the past, the key difference has been the improved showing of our big men Amjyot Singh and Amritpal Singh."
Both Amjyot and Amritpal are professionals in the Japanese developmental league, and their exposure abroad is showing immediate divided.
In today's game though, India started off strong against Philippines, winning the first quarter 17-16. However, the hot-shooting of Philippines kicked in during the second quarter and it took a 42-36 lead into halftime.
In the second half, the tired legs of India couldn't keep up, as a rested and deep Philippines team took off on large runs.
Captain Vishesh Bhriguvanshi led the team with 21 points, including 5-10 outside shooting, while Amritpal matched former-NBA player Andre Blatche blow for blow with 18 points and 13 rebounds.
Star hoopster Amjyot had an off-night with 11 points and 5 rebounds.
Result: India (Vishesh Bhriguvanshi 21 pts, 3 rbs & 3 asts; Amritpal Singh 18 pts & 13 rbs; and Amjyot Singh 11 pts & 5 rbs) lost to Philippines (T Romeo 20 pts & 4 asts; A. Blatche 15 pts & 5 stls; and R. DeCampo 13 pts) 65-99 (17-16, 19-26, 14-23, 15-34).