June 10, 2019

FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Draw completed in Bengaluru - with a visit from NBA Hall of Famer Yao Ming

The Asian basketball world descended to Bengaluru - the new hoops capital of India - on Saturday, for the group stage draws of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021. India were of course one of the teams drawn into the qualifying draw. A number of great Asian basketball players were present for this event, including Basketball Hall of Famer Yao Ming, who made his third visit to India.

India were drawn in Group D alongside Bahrain, Lebanon, and Iraq.

2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifier Groups
  • Group A: Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Korea.
  • Group B: Chinese Taipei, Japan, Malaysia, China.
  • Group C: Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Guam.
  • Group D: Bahrain, Lebanon, India, Iraq.
  • Group E: Saudi Arabia, Syria, Qatar, Iran.
  • Group F: Jordan, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka, Palestine.

India will play each of the three teams in its group on a home and away basis over three qualifying windows - November 2019, February 2020, and November 2020. At the end of the three windows, the top two teams from each group directly qualify for the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup. The six third-placed teams qualify to participate in a final qualifier tournament in February 2021. The top four teams from that tournament will join the earlier 12 to complete the list of participating nations for the tournament.

Yao Ming, who was the star of China's basketball team, the Houston Rockets in the NBA, the Shanghai Sharks, and is now the chairman of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), made his third visit to India as one of the dignitaries at the draft. Yao had earlier come to Kolkata in 1998 to represent China at the FIBA Asia U18 Championship. Two years ago, he visited Bengaluru for the FIBA Asia Women's Championship.

Also present at the draw ceremony at the Shangri-La Hotel in Bengaluru: Former Philippines star player Jimmy Alapag, Japanese women’s professional player Asami Yoshida, FIBA President Horacio Muratore, FIBA Secretary General Andreas Zagklis, FIBA Asia President Sheikh Saud, Basketball Federation of India (BFI) President K. Govindraj, and Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala.

In August 2017, Australia become FIBA Asia Cup champions in Lebanon, while a disappointing Team India were ousted in the First Round.

The General Assembly of FIBA's member federations was also held in Bengaluru on Sunday. Sheikh Saud Ali Al Thani was re-elected as President of FIBA Asia. India's BFI president Govindraj is the SABA (South Asian) sub-zone representative.