September 3, 2010

Indian team returns with a 2-5 record from Youth Olympics

The Indian youth basketball team may have come back from the Singapore Youth Olympic Games (YOG) with a losing record, but gained valuable experience playing with youngsters from some of the top hoop countries in the world, as well as became part of a select few countries to play in FIBA's new 3-on-3 form on an official world stage.

Four Indian youth players – Shyam Sunder (Chhattigarh), Sukhjeet (Delhi), Amit Kanarjee (Madhya Pradesh), and Kirti Goswami (Madhya Pradesh) – represented India in the basketball tournament at the YOG. The four youngsters were accompanied to Singapore by their coach Shanmugam Sridhar. The team finished 18th out of the 20 participants.

Each game in the tournament was set to be 15 minutes long, with three quick five minute periods. The first team to 33 or the team that is leading at the end of regulation time wins. It was a fast-paced affair since each possession was only allowed a 10-second shot clock and a shot could only be pulled up after at least two passes per possession.

"This competition was a great experience for these youngsters," said Sridhar, "The YOG is a big competition. All the players performed well – we always managed to keep the games close in the first half before conceding heavily in the end. I think we would have performed better had we had taller players."

India were pitted in a group with Puerto Rico, Greece, New Zealand, and Gold Medal winners Serbia. Although they lost all their group games, they fared well in the 17th-20th place playoffs, beating Panama and South Africa before losing to hosts Singapore in the finale. Another positive was that the team showed an improved performance after every result until their last game.

Kirti Goswami was the leading scorer of India, pitching in 47 points over the seven games, at an average of 6.71 ppg. Goswami also received third place in a shooting competition held at the YOG.

"The 3-on-3 format made for very quick games," added Sridhar, "It especially helped in showcasing the talent's of individual players."

The complete results were:

Boys Preliminary Group A

- India – Puerto Rico: 15-33
- India – Serbia: 19-33
- India – Greece: 20-33
- India – New Zealand: 12-17

Boys Round Robin 17-20

- India – Panama: 28-22
- India – South Africa: 27-11
- India – Singapore: 20-31

The Boys' Gold was won by Serbia, who beat Croatia 22-9 in the Final.

Here's a video with highlights of India's win over South Africa

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