September 24, 2013

India's U16 boys ready to compete at the 2013 U16 FIBA Asia Championship in Tehran


India's Youth (under-16) basketball squad will be amongst 14 young teams from across Asia participating in the 3rd FIBA Asia U16 Basketball Championship for Boys, set to be held in Tehran (Iran) from September 25 - October 4. China, who have won gold in the past two editions of this biyearly tournament, will be once again defending their title. India will hope to improve on their back-to-back 10th place finishes in the past two tournaments.

India have been placed in Group C of the tournament along with Jordan and Japan.

India qualified for this championship by defeating Maldives, Nepal, and Bangladesh to win the SABA Qualifiers in Dhaka. The 3rd U16 FIBA ABC is the qualifying tournament for the FIBA U17 World Championship. After concluding their 2nd training camp at the SAI in NSWC Gandhinagar, Gujarat, the U16 Boys headed to the city of Dongguan in China for a training/preparation camp from September 15-22, 2013. They stayed at the NBA/CBA's Basketball School in Dongguan and played exhibition games against various Chinese teams.

Here is India's 12-man roster for the 3rd U16 FIBA Asia Championship, unchanged from the squad that practiced in Dongguan:
  • Mahipal Singh (Rajasthan)
  • Akhilesh Kumar (Rajasthan)
  • Yogesh Kaneriya (Rajasthan)
  • Prabhnoor Singh (Punjab)
  • Rahul Mehta (Punjab)
  • Jaipal Singh (Punjab)
  • Ashish Briggs (Madhya Pradesh)
  • Vishal Kumar Gupta (Delhi)
  • Sunil (Delhi)
  • Mithun Das (Chhattisgarh)
  • Erash Hooda (Karnataka)
  • Arjun Pandit (Delhi)
  • Head Coach: Tritesh Guha
  • Coach: Raghuvendra Singh Gaur
Holders China and hosts Iran automatically qualified for this tournament. Saudi Arabia and an additional squad from West Asia withdrew from participation. The 14 qualified teams have been divided into four groups:
  • Group A: Bahrain, China, Hong Kong, Syria.
  • Group B: Iran, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand.
  • Group B: India, Japan, Jordan.
  • Group B: Chinese Taipei, Kazakhstan, Philippines.
Because there are only three teams in their group, India will play only two Preliminary Round games and will automatically qualify for the Second Round. Their points from the first round will be carried into the second round Group F, where they will play against the three squads from Group D.

India's Preliminary Round schedule (all times IST):
  • September 25 - 5 PM India vs. Jordan.
  • September 27 - 5 PM India vs. Japan.
China will once more be the favourites at the tournament, but don't count out the host team Iran, who have been riding a wave of success thanks to their senior side winning the FIBA Asia Championship last month and will have the support of a fervent home crowd behind them. Last year's silver-medalists Korea will also be a force to be reckoned with. India will have good memories of the previous U16 FIBA ABC. Two years at Nha Trang (Vietnam), India’s squad led by behemoth talent Satnam Singh Bhamara broke out into the scene and gave some of Asia's finest squads a scare. India couldn't improve on their 10th place finish, but showed much-improved performances on court. There’s no clear-cut talent like Bhamara around anymore, but hopefully, the current team can play well together as a unit to surprise Asia's finest once again.

India will hope to defeat the team from Jordan in their first game. Their second opponents are 2011 bronze-medalists Japan, and India will be heavy underdogs in this matchup. If they are able to get a win in the Preliminary Round and get spring a surprise against an opponent in the Second (most likely: Kazakhstan), they could be within sight of a first-ever Quarter-Final spot.

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