July 5, 2014

India to host SABA Qualifiers for 22nd U18 FIBA Asia Championship in Bengaluru from today

The journey to face the best in the continent must begin by mastering their own region first. India's U18 basketball men's squad - with ambitions to play in the U18 FIBA Asia Championship later this year - will have to first defeat South Asian rivals Sri Lanka and Bangladesh at the South Asian Basketball Association (SABA) Qualifiers for 23rd U18 FIBA Asia Championship. The three-day qualifying tournament, hosted by India, tips off today at the Koramangala Indoor Stadium in Bengaluru. It is being organized by the Karnataka State Basketball Association (KSBBA).

India are defending champions at the U18 SABA level, and will once again come in as clear favourites to defeat their opponents and qualify for the 2014 FIBA Asia U18 Championship, set to be held in Doha (Qatar) from August 19-29 this year.

The Basketball Federation of India (BFI) yesterday released the 12-man roster for India U18 Men yesterday:

  • Akhilesh Kumar (Rajasthan)
  • Mahipal Singh (Rajasthan)
  • Gurvinder Singh Gill (Punjab)
  • Dildar Singh Brar (Punjab)
  • Anmol Singh (Punjab)
  • Gaurav Ohlan (Delhi)
  • Sunil (Delhi)
  • Narender (Delhi)
  • Sagar Joshi (West Bengal)
  • P Rajesh (Chhattisgarh)
  • Pradeep (Haryana)
  • Ambati Reddy (Andhra Pradesh)
  • Coach: Jora Singh Ghulia
  • Coach: Paramdeep Singh
Many of the names above will be familiar for close followers of Indian basketball. Akhilesh Kumar, Mahipal Singh, and Sunil were part of India's squad that played in U16 FIBA Asia Championship in Tehran a year ago. Rajasthan's Mahipal Singh, who has been an up-and-coming star for several years, was chosen to participate in the NBA/FIBA Basketball Without Borders camp in Taipei last month. Narender and Gurvinder Singh Gill were part of India's squad that won silver at the U18 FIBA Asia 3x3 championship in Thailand last year.

Speaking about India’s chances to Deccan Herald, Coach Jora Singh sounded supremely confident (if a little too confident) "We definitely expect to win," he said, "I do not see much competition from the other two teams." No pressure, then. Here are the schedule of games at the qualifiers:
  • July 5 - 6:00 PM: Sri Lanka vs. Bangladesh.
  • July 6 - 6:00 PM: India vs L/O Sri Lanka vs Bangladesh.
  • July 7 - 6:00 PM: India vs W/O Sri Lanka vs Bangladesh.
At the previous FIBA Asia U18 championship in 2012, India finished 10th, but featured one of the breakout stars of the tournament in Palpreet Singh Brar. The new crop of juniors will be hoping to one-up the squad's results this time around. But first, they must make true of Coach Jora Singh's confidence and take care of business against the South Asian opponents at home. If you happen to be in Bengaluru or nearby, be sure to show up and support the squad, and also catch some of the brightest future Indian basketball talents in action.

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