May 21, 2013

India to fight for 1st FIBA Asia U18 3x3 Championship in Thailand


Things are looking quite rosy for Indian Basketball at the international stage, at least as far as the new, shorter version of the game is concerned.

For a country that has long struggled to make a mark amongst Asia’s top basketball contenders, India has found a new vehicle in the 3x3, halfcourt format of the game, and have rocketed up to the top of the charts. India’s Women’s squad won the gold medal last week in the inaugural FIBA Asia 3x3 Basketball Championship in Doha, following their gold medal performances in the Asian and South Asian Beach games over the past few years. The men’s squad were ousted in the Quarter-Finals, but the experience showed that India is more than ready to embrace basketball’s ‘mini’ format.

Now, it’s the turn of India’s junior stars to show that the future of the game is as secure as the present.

India’s U18 boys’ and girls’ teams will participated in the first-ever FIBA Asia U18 3x3 Basketball Championship, set to be held in Bangkok (Thailand) from May 22-24, 2013. With many more of the top Asian nations taking part in this tournament, India’s journey to a podium finish will be much harder, but the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) has selected experienced young players into the rosters to push for some silverware.

Here are India’s Rosters for the 1st FIBA Asia U18 3x3 Basketball Championships:

Boys: Loveneet Singh, Narender, Syed Anam Ali, Gurvinder Singh Gill.

Girls: Ishwari Pingle, Vyshali Kemkar, Poonam Chaturvedi, Sharanjeet Kaur.

There is definitely a lot of experience – even at a young age – amongst several of those names there, notably Loveneet, Narender, Syed Anam Ali, Ishwari Pingle, and Sharanjeet Kaur. The big story of the tournament could potentially be Poonam Chaturvedi, who at 18 is already 6 foot 7 inches tall and has been honing her raw talents slowly back home over the past two years.

The draw for the championship was held in Malaysia last month: 19 boys’ and 17 girls’ teams will be taking part in the competition, and have been drawn into four groups each. India’s Boys have been placed in Group A along with China, Maldives, and Thailand 1. India’s Girls are in Group A, along with Qatar, Lebanon, and Thailand 1. Hosts Thailand have two teams in each gender in the competition.

Both boys and girls will play in a Preliminary Round on May 22-23, and the knockout stage starting from the Quarter-Finals for both will be held on May 24.

Here is the Schedule for India’s group stage games on May 22-23 (all timings Bangkok):

Boys

- May 22 – 3:30 PM: India vs. China
- May 22 – 4:30 PM: Thailand 1 vs. India
- May 23 – 2:30 PM: India vs. Maldives

Girls

- May 22 – 2:00 PM: India vs. Qatar
- May 22 – 4:00 PM: Thailand 1 vs. India
- May 23 – 2:30 PM: India vs. Lebanon

India’s boys’ squad has a mega test in their very first contest, against Asian powerhouse China. China are the favourites for the tournament, but if India can at least give them a good fight, they will have some confidence in their next group games against Maldives and Thailand. Philippines, Japan, Chinese Taipei, and Lebanon are other teams to watch out for in the tournament.

The girls’ may draw even against any of the teams in their group, particularly Lebanon and Thailand. The favourites of the tournament for girls – China and Chinese Taipei – are in Groups D and C respectively.

With China in contention, it is always difficult to bet on any other squad in an Asian basketball tournament. But India has been displayed respectful showings in recent years in the 3x3 version of the game and our Senior Women even defeated China in the Asian Beach Games final last year. Nevertheless, it will be a rare basketball occasion where India can feel that they are not just mere minnows but above average contenders. Let’s hope that the juniors can live up to the high bar set by the senior players.

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