Tokyo: India did extremely well to keep the more fancied, and certainly favored, home team Japan on its toes for the entire first half before succumbing to a 72-90 loss in their final Group B game of the FIBA Asia Cup basketball tournament here Monday.
India, who finished at the bottom of Group B, will take on Macau for the 9-10 play-off match slated for Thursday.
"I am proud of the way my boys fought hard," said a beaming India coach J.P. Singh.
Singh`s opposite number Kimikazu Suzuki said, "it was a real close call. Wasn`t it?" heaving a sigh of relief.
The win kept Japan`s slate clean after three games in the competition and the hosts will head into their final prelim Round game against Iran on the morrow hoping to maintain the momentum and top Group B.
"It`s been all the way," Suzuki said adding that "but we are coping well."
Having played equal fiddle, at times and even second to the unfancied and inexperienced Indians outfit, Japan unleashed a fury of offense at the start of the second quarter that calmed the nerves of the holiday crowd at the Ota Ciy Gymnasium.
Ryota Sakurai (white jersey in pic above) was at the vanguard of the Japanese onslaught with 5 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals as Japan reeled in 19 unanswered points at the start of the third quarter. That flurry proved good enough to take Japan home for an eventually comfortable win.
In all, Sakurai accounted for 7 of his dozen points for the game, all his rebounds, assists and steals in the third quarter.
Kosuke Kanamuru was Japan`s leading scorer reeling in 7 three-pointers, in 9 attempts, for his 26 points.
Kosuke Takeuchi had a double-double with 10 points and 15 rebounds.
Vishesh Bhriguvanshi led India`s scoring with 21 points and Amritpal Singh pulled down a game-high 20 rebounds to go with his 13 points.
"The lack of experience has been a problem for us all in the all four games. I think we did play real hard in all our games. We are a young team and we have shown we can play good basketball," Bhriguvanshi said.