The Indian Sr. Men’s basketball team, who qualified for the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship (ABC) last month after winning the Middle Asia Zone Qualifiers, have returned to camp with head coach Kenny Natt at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in New Delhi from August 6th. In addition to the 12-man roster that participated in the qualifiers last month, six more probables have been invited for the camp, which will last until September 11.
The FIBA Asia Championship for Men will be held in Wuhan, China, from September 15-25, 2011. India have been placed in Group A along with Lebanon, Malaysia, and Korea.
Senior Men’s team probables:
The good news is that, in bringing back the same squad into camp that defeated Sri Lanka and Bangladesh by a margin of nearly 68 points a game, Coach Natt has ensured a sense of continuity at the camp. I've marked an (*) against the name of the six new players who have been invited as probables for the next month or so. The most exciting of these names, of course, is Talwinderjit Singh, or TJ Sahi, who is also known as the man who dunked over a Mumbai taxi! In a recent interview with The Mint, Natt conceded that the point guard situation was in limbo: Sambhaji Kadam, India's ageless wonder, had a good run in the MAZ qualifiers, but there are questions about his age/sustainability at the highest level. This is where Sahi could come in and contribute automatically.
Sahi missed the earlier cut of 12 because of personal reasons, and now the pressure will be surely on him to integrate himself in this team if he wants to go to China with them.
Of course, the rest of the usual suspects are back and will be looking to continue their confident run: Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, Jagdeep Singh Bains, and Yadwinder Singh. As I had noted after the qualifiers, what makes this team special is the balance of youth, experience, and prime. The youth quota looks especially interesting as the team as three under-20 players who are all 6 foot 9 and above: Amrit Pal Singh, Amjyot Singh, and 15-year-old, 7 foot 1 wonder, Satnam Singh Bhamara. I also like the addition of another talented young big - Dishant Shah of Gujarat - to the team.
The tournament in China is a little over a month away, and Natt will cut his roster down to 12 again for the championship. Malaysia, Korea, and Lebanon are obviously going to present competition of a much higher order than our South Asian neighbours. Let's hope that, between now and then, Team India continue to improve enough to at least give the superior teams a run for their money.