September 20, 2015

India at Changsha: Complete Team India roster, schedule, and preview for 2015 FIBA Asia Basketball Championship

In less than three days, a referee on center-court will lob up a basketball, one of the two giant men contesting for it will win the lob and tab it back to his teammate, and the biggest basketball tournament in Asia will officially tip off. The continent's best teams, from 16 nations, will descend to the city of Changsha in China's Hunan province in hopes of being crowned Asia's best and qualifying for the basketball tournament at the Rio Olympics next year.

The 2015 FIBA Asia Basketball Championship (2015 FIBA ABC) will be held at Changsha Social Work College's gymnasium and Central South University of Forestry and Technology's gymnasium from Wednesday September 23, with the final scheduled for October 3. The winner of the tournament qualifies for the basketball tournament on the 2016 Summer Olympics, while the next three best teams will participate at the 2016 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Men. India is among the 16 teams heading to Changsha for the tournament, and will begin their campaign in Group A, along with reigning champions Iran.

Two years ago, at the 2013 FIBA ABC in Manila, Iran declared their supremacy over the continent by winning the gold medal, defeating the hosts Philippines in the final clash. Iran and the Philippines will once again be two of the favourites vying for the title in Changsha this year, while the big boys from China and the rising threats from Jordan or Chinese Taipei could give a few contenders the run for their money, too. India finished 11th at Manila under the tutelage of the then newly-appointment coach Scott Flemming. Two years later, facing domestic turmoil that has hampered their preparation, India is sending several new faces to the FIBA ABC - including a new coach - with hopes of bettering their standing in the continent.

The current India team is led by head coach Sat Prakash, a former player and former coach of India's Women's national squad. Veteran guard Vishesh Bhriguvanshi will return to the squad after missing out on the qualifiers as captain. Amrit Pal Singh and Amjyot Singh, India's imposing front court who have been playing professionally in Japan's D-League, will form the primary fulcrum of India's attack and defense in the middle. The rest of the squad will feature a mix of veteran players (Yadwinder Singh) and young prospects (Gurvinder Singh Gill), and it will be coach Prakash's job to find the perfect blend for success. India will be missing a seven-foot-two hole in the middle in the form of 19-year-old Satnam Singh Bhamara, who earlier this year became the first Indian to be drafted into the NBA but has chosen to focus on developing his career in the NBDL and the NBA instead of playing in India for now.

Team India roster for 2015 FIBA ABC
  • Vinay Kaushik
  • Rajesh Uppar
  • Siddhant Shinde
  • Vishesh Bhriguvanshi
  • Amrit Pal Singh
  • Vikas Kumar
  • Yadwinder Singh
  • Arvind Arumugam
  • Amjyot Singh
  • Akilan Pari
  • Akashdeep Hazra
  • Gurvinder Singh Gill
  • Head Coach: Sat Prakash
  • Assistant Coach: Sebastian PJ
  • Manager: Goutam Ganguly
India have been drawn in Group A of the tournament, along with reigning champions and favourites Iran, the formidable Japan squad, and Malaysia, the only team in the group ranked lower than the Indians. Like with the women’s team earlier this year, popular budget airline Air Asia is sponsoring the men’s team’s participation at the event.

2015 FIBA ABC Preliminary Round Groups
  • Group A: Iran, Japan, Malaysia, India.
  • Group B: Philippines, Palestine, Kuwait, Hong Kong.
  • Group C: Korea, Jordan, Singapore, China.
  • Group D: Chinese Taipei, Lebanon, Qatar, Kazakhstan.
India's Preliminary Round Schedule for 2015 FIBA ABC - All timings IST
  • September 23 - 5 PM - Malaysia vs. India.
  • September 24 - 9:15 AM - Iran vs. India.
  • September 25 - 12 noon - Japan vs. India
The top three teams from each of the four Preliminary Round groups (12 total teams) will move on to two further Second Round groups of six teams each, carrying forth their points from the Preliminary Round as well. The top four teams in the Second Round (eight total teams) will then move on to the knockout-out stage, starting with the Quarter-Finals.

India has a real chance of moving into the second round if they can defeat Malaysia and finish third in the group. Iran, who are the favourites will be a juggernaut, especially as they feature superstars of the likes of reigning FIBA ABC MVP Hamed Haddadi and Mahdi Kamrani. Japan are missing star players Kosuke Takeuchi and Yuta Watanabe, but the small and speedy squad will feature great shooters like Kosuke Kanamaru, Keijuro Matsui, and Takatoshi Furukawa, and Joji Takeuchi as the big man in the middle.

India haven't finished in the tournament's top 10 since 2003. It will take a herculean effort to break the spell and challenge for a Quarter-Final spot, but Prakash's squad should head into the championship with a positive attitude to perform well in the Preliminary Round and hope to spring an upset or two in the Second Round as well. "Most of our core team is intact, so we hope to perform very well," said India's captain Bhriguvanshi, "Our primary goal is to win our first game against Malaysia, and give tough fights to Iran and Japan. If we can manage that, we will progress to the second round."

Last year, Indian basketball was at a high; the team had defeated China at the FIBA Asia Cup in Wuhan for the first time in history and given a tough fight to two more of Asia's best - Iran and the Philippines - during the course of the tournament. Unfortunately, external turmoil halted India's progress and their ability to build on the potential shown in Wuhan. Infighting between two competing executive committees has left the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) in a disarray, and Coach Scott Flemming - the architect behind the miracles in Wuhan - left for another job back in the United States a few months ago.

In the midst of this friction and instability at the top, can India's Men's basketball team deliver some good news to fans of the sport back in the country?


  1. Wonder if blatche is gonna feature in gilas side?

    1. Yes, although reportedly, he's not in good shape.