The last time India's Women's squad played in a major FIBA Asia tournament, they returned in failure. India lost all of their preliminary group games in Level 1 and then lost their playoff game, too, to fall down to the lower Level 2 of the tournament. It was a difficult time for our national team, and the last two years have been spent with the mission to return to the higher rung of competition.
As the competition dates loom nearer, the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) and FIBA took the next major step in preparation: On Wednesday morning in Bengaluru, the official draw for the FIBA Women's Asia Cup 2017 was held at the city's Krishna Hall. This year's list of squads, for the first time, include teams from the Oceania region in the Asian competition, too. The expanded fray of participants also presented a changed format in the tournament, with two groups in each "Division" (instead of Level). India were drawn into the lower Division B, Group A, along with Sri Lanka, American Samoa, and Uzbekistan.
Results: FIBA Asia Women's Cup 2017 Draw
- Division A, Group A: New Zealand, Chinese Taipei, North Korea, China.
- Division A, Group B: South Korea, Philippines, Japan, Australia.
- Division B, Group A: Sri Lanka, India, American Samoa, Uzbekistan.
- Division B, Group B: Lebanon, Singapore, Kazakhstan, Fiji.
Japan, the champions from 2015, will be among the favourites again, but will have to contend with a couple of strong sides in Australia and South Korea in their group. China and Chinese Taipei will be the strongest squads in Division A's Group A.
In terms of FIBA's World Rankings, India is still the fifth-highest ranked team in Asia, and should be able to top their group easily. India's main threat is likely to be Uzbekistan. If India can top Division B, they will be promoted to Division A for the next iteration of the championship.
The draw ceremony in Bengaluru on Wednesday was attended by BFI President K Govindaraj, BFI Secretary-General Chander Mukhi Sharma, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, his Sports Minister Pramod Madhvaraj and Minister for Bengaluru Development and Town Planning KJ George.