Over the last few months, there has been a lot of talk about why basketball is not working in India and how one singular Indian is making basketball work for himself, abroad. Finally, it's time for the talk to end, and for India to start playing some meaningful basketball again.
India's Senior Men's national team will get a chance to bury recent distractions played by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) in the past and refocus their attention on the sport this week. From Friday, July 3 to Sunday, July 5, India will host the 4th South Asian Basketball Association (SABA) Championship at the Sri Kanteevara Basketball Courts in Bengaluru. The tournament will pit six top teams from the South Asia Zone against each other and the winner will qualify for the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship, set to be held in Hunan, China, from September 23 to October 3.
granted interim relief to the BFI just in time to let the games be played. GLR Prasad will be the team's head coach, taking over after the American Scott Flemming left a few months ago.
Participating Teams: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka
Team India Roster
- Joginder Singh
- Narender Grewal
- Akilan Pari
- Vikash Kumar
- Pratham Singh
- Arvind A.
- Vinay Kaushik
- Akashdeep Hazra
- Gurvinder Singh Gill
- A. Aravind
- Prasanna Venkatesh
- Rikin Pethani - (captain)
- Coach: GLR Prasad
- Manager: Goutan Ganguly
In their place, the remaining veterans in the squad: Rikin Pethani, Pratham Singh, Narender Grewal, and Joginder Singh will be counted upon to fly the Indian flag and help see the team through to the FIBA Asia Championship later this year. Pethani has been named captain but the leadership duties will likely be shared by all four named above. Look for the likes of Gurvinder Singh 'Gary' Gill to step up and make a case for himself for a more constant role in the national side. If India are able to qualify, it is likely that the team that flies to China looks starkly different from this one, especially if our best players Amjyot, Amrit Pal, and Vishesh are able to make a comeback.
- July 3 - 9:30 AM - Nepal vs. India.
- July 3 - 5 PM - India vs. Bangladesh.
- July 4 - 11 AM - Bhutan vs. India.
- July 5 - 9:30 AM - India vs. Maldives.
- July 5 - TBC - Sri Lanka vs. India.
With our national team a little weakened, our opponents will probably be spelling blood, and these tournament should be closer than the past South Asian championships usually have been (except for our battles against Afghanistan). The organizers have smartly scheduled India vs. Sri Lanka as the last game of the tournament; there is no 'final' in the round-robin style, but these two teams are the early-tournament favourites, and unless there is a major upset, this game will likely be the decider of which team goes to Hunan in September.
If you are in or around Bengaluru, try your best to make it to the stadium and cheer for India!