The South Asian Basketball Association (SABA) championship has been held four times, once every two years. India has won the title four times.
Team India headed to Maldives for the 5th SABA Basketball Championship from May 19-23 to take part in the five-team tournament. The winner of this championship will qualify for the lone South Asian spot in the continent's most prestigious basketball event, the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup, set to be held in Lebanon in August. The participants in this year's events are India, hosts Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal. As can be gleaned from past SABA editions, the Indian men’s team, with a blend of youth and experience, will start off yet again as strong favourites.
India’s attempt at a five-peat of the tournament will be led by experienced point guard Akilan Pari. Also featured in the squad are centre Amritpal Singh, guard Vishesh Bhriguvanshi and veteran forward Yadwinder Singh, the trio who recently took part in the NBL Draft Combine in Australia. Other familiar faces are centre Rikin Pethani, forward Prasanna Venkatesh, shooting guard Arjun Singh, centre Ravi Bhardwaj and forward Anil Kumar BK. Missing from the squad are a few notable big names that we hope will return to the team if India qualifies for the FIBA Asia Cup, including Amjyot Singh, Palpreet Singh, and Satnam Singh.
|Photo via: Basketball Federation of India|
- Akilan Pari - Captain
- Muin Bek Hafeez
- Prasanna Sivakumar
- Anil Kumar Gowda
- Arjun Singh
- Vishesh Bhriguvanshi
- Amritpal Singh
- Vishal Kumar Gupta
- Ravi Bhardwaj
- Jeevanatham Pandi
- Yadwinder Singh
- Head Coach: Sappaniambalam Baskar
- Assistant Coach: Sebastian Padipurakkal Joseph
- Manager: Sushil Kumar
"Our motto as a team is to win big and make sure that the juniors of our team get playing time," said Pari, the team's captain. "This championship is important for them to get good exposure and will be crucial in their development as players."
India’s training camp for the tournament was held from 1st-17th May, at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium, New Delhi with 33 players, and the final selections were made on 7th May. A conscious effort was made by the selectors and Head Coach Baskar Sappaniambalam to ensure that the right blend of youth and experience was picked for their campaign in Maldives. "India has had a solid record at the SABA Championship and we aim to continue that trend," Sappaniambalam said. "It is the only tournament where we can provide an opportunity to our younger players and hence we have selected 3 players under the age of 22. Our main aim is to win and qualify for the FIBA Asia Cup taking place in Lebanon in August."
India's Schedule at the 2017 SABA Championship
- May 19: India vs. Maldives
- May 21: Sri Lanka vs. India
- May 22: India vs. Bangladesh
- May 23: Nepal vs. India