And just when we least expected it, India's back on the scene for some international basketball action!
3rd Lusofonia Games. The Games are being held from January 18-29th, with the basketball tournament scheduled from January 23-27th. The Basketball Federation of India (BFI) is also providing technical support at the event.
The Lusofonia Games are organized by the ACOLOP (Associação dos Comités Olímpicos de Língua Oficial Portuguesa). Because of Goa's historical Portuguese influence, India is an associate member of the Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking countries) and will participates in these games. 12 countries from four continents are taking part in nine different sports this year.
The basketball tournament is slated to be held at the Goa University Complex in Taleigao. India's Men's Head Coach Scott Flemming recently commented that the new basketball arena here is the best he has seen in India. Flemming will lead the Men's team and Spanish Coach Francisco Garcia will be at the helm of India's Senior Women. Both squads trained with the probables over the last week at the Don Bosco High School in Mathunga, Mumbai.
On Wednesday, BFI announced the final rosters for both teams representing India. India is entering the competition under the 'Goa-India' banner with Lusofonia rules requiring that a certain percentage of India's national team comprise of players from the state of Goa.
Here are the teams participating in Lusofonia Games basketball tournament:
Group A: Cape Verde, Mozambique, Macau (China).
Group B: India, Angola, Guinea Bissau.
Women: India, Angola, Mozambique, Macau (China).
India's basketball teams for Lusofonia Games
- Amjyot Singh (IOB/Tamil Nadu)
- Amrit Pal Singh (ONGC)
- Riken Pethani (IOB/Tamil Nadu)
- Joginder Singh (Services)
- Pratham Singh (IOB/Tamil Nadu)
- Vishesh Bhriguvanshi (ONGC)
- Yadwinder Singh (ONGC)
- Narender Grewal (Services)
- Palpreet Singh (Punjab)
- Sambhaji Kadam (Services)
- Daley Fernandes (Goa)
- Lambart Godiho (Goa)
- Head Coach: Scott Flemming
- Coach: Prasad Rama Linga
- Rajapriyadarshini Rajaganapathi (Railways/Tamil Nadu)
- Stefy Nixon (Kerala)
- Jeena PS (Kerala)
- Smruthi Radhakrishman (Railways)
- Poojamol KS (Kerala)
- Neenumol PS (Kerala)
- Sharanjeet Kaur (Chhattisgarh)
- Priti Kumari (Madhya Pradesh)
- Ishwari Pingle (Tamil Nadu)
- Shireen Limaye (Maharashtra)
- Nelvie Mendes (Goa)
- Kezia Fernandes (Goa)
- Head Coach: Francisco Garcia
- Coach: Divya Singh
Lusofonia Games Basketball - India's Group Stage Schedule
- January 23 - 6:00 PM - India vs. Guinea Bissau.
- January 25 - 6:00 PM - Angola vs. India.
- January 24 - 4:00 PM - India vs. Macau (China).
- January 25 - 4:00 PM - India vs. Mozambique.
- January 26 - 2:00 PM - Angola vs. India.
The Women's competition is only a round robin, so the team with the best record after three games each will win the gold.
Apart from the new names joining the two teams to fill in the Goa quota, it seems that India is sending mostly full strength squads for both Men and Women divisions. Senior Men regulars like Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, Amjyot Singh, Amrit Pal Singh, Yadwinder Singh, and the veteran Sambhaji Kadam will be joined by several rising talents like Palpreet Singh and Narender Grewal. The Women's squad is much younger, without the dominant veterans like Geethu Anna Jose, Anitha Paul Durai, Prashanti Singh, or Akanksha Singh. Instead, it'll be up to a more youthful crop of talent led by Jeena PS, Poojamol KS, Smruthi Radhakrishnan, Sharanjeet Kaur, and Shireen Limaye to lead the way.
India shouldn't have any trouble against Guinea Bissau in the Men's team first game, but they will be challenged by Angola, who are Africa's most successful team and current FIBA Africa Champions. From Group A, India will probably face the toughest challenge from another African side, Mozambique.
Angola and Mozambique were the finalists in the most recent FIBA Africa Women's Championship, too, and both are ranked above India's Women in the FIBA World rankings. The game against Macau is winnable for India, but they will have to play at a much higher level to defeat the African nations.