Bengaluru: The Indian men's basketball team steamrolled past Himalayan neighbours Nepal 90-37 in their opening game of the South Asian Basketball Association Championship (SABA) here on Friday.
The Indian team is without its key starters Amritpal Singh, Amjyot Singh (both playing in Japan), and ONGC/Uttarakhand veterans Yadwinder Singh and Vishesh Bhriguvanshi.
But in their absence, other first time forwards Aravind Annadurai (from Tamil Nadu), Aravind (from Karnataka), and youngster Gurvinder Singh Gill (ex- junior India captain from Punjab) stepped up to fill the void.
Dominating in the paint, the much taller Indian frontline posed insurmountable challenges for the Nepal side that has struggled to prepare for this Championship, with their main Dasarath Indoor Stadium in Kathmandu having been damaged in last month's devastating earthquake.
India led from start to finish, with a widening lead each quarter. Indian Head Coach Prasad Rama Linga continued with his predecessor Scott Flemming?s strategy of aggressive man to man defence, patient ball movement, and multiple easy transition scoring opportunities.
In the inaugural match of the Championship, Bangladesh beat a fast charging Maldives side 76-65. After opening up a sizeable 39-20 lead at halftime, the 'Lions' slacked off in the second half to allow Maldives to get back into the game.
Mohamad Zilaal was the lone warrior for the island nation, top scoring with 26 points. But he was more than matched by Bangladesh's captain Mithun Kumar Biswas and Mithun Sarkan's double doubles.
The final game of the morning saw Sri Lanka, arguably the second strongest team in this competition after India, romp past the tiny South Asian country of Bhutan. The second half had Sri Lankan players in all smiles as they made some impossibly long three pointers, much to the delight of the entire bench.
However, an avoidable late flagrant foul on Sri Lankan top scorer Praneeth Udumalagala that sent him tumbling to the ground holding his wrist in agony, will no doubt have his head coach Panduka Ranasinghe worried.