Basketball is not a sport which attracts many spectators and eyeballs in India. But a quiet revolution is undergoing in Basketball scene in India. Recently concluded Asian Basketball championship, recognized by FIBA is an example of ongoing trend. Indian cagers created history by coming 8th among 16 qualified nations from the continent. What is more heart warming is the fact that they qualified for the Quarterfinal stage after 12 long years.
India was drawn in tough pool in first round where Iran and Japan and Malaysia were with them. Iran was the defending champion and has won 3 out of 5 previous editions. Nippon squad was no way inferior. In fact both of them reached up to the SF of this edition. So, in a sense, Indians were hoping to defeat Malaysia in the Group 1 stage to advance to the next round. They achieved the feat by trouncing them by about 30 points. Team India crossed the barrier of 100 points in this match for the only time in this edition. They lost, as was expected, against the other two greats but gave them a tough fight before bowing out.
In the second round they were clubbed with Philippines, Philistine and Hong kong. In their first match against Philistine, they were trailing up to 3rd quarter. Team didn’t give up and in the final quarter played like a wounded tiger. They snatched victory with a slender margin of 70-73 in the end. This victory proved to be an advantage in the end as it helped them in qualifying for the QF where despite of having equal points to Philistine in the Group, they progressed to the next round. In next match, HK gave them a tough time but team managed to win by 5 points. Against Philippines, they bowed down too cheaply.
In the QF, Men in Blues played against the eventual champion and host nation China. Some were hoping for a miracle again. In the previous edition, Indians have stunned CHN. This time, they could not produce any fight and humiliated by a margin of 104-58. They were succumbed to 5-8th place matches.
In first classification game, they lost ground to Korea by a heavy margin. In 7/8th place game, Indian cagers couldn’t produce anything and lost to Middle East nation Qatar. Indian played loosely in last two games which cost them respect, if not podium, in the final standings.
Punjab lad Amjyot Singh was the pick of the tournament. Cager from the land of Punjab has been consistent since his arrival and in the team. He finished as the top Indian scorer. He sparked the stadium with many 3 pointers and control over the ball. At one point of time, he was the leading scorer of the tournament per game! Captain Vishesh Bhriguvanshi played as per the expectation. Amritpal Singh, another lad from land of five rivers earned a lot of kudos.
In the end, young China stunned experienced old age squad of Philipines on 3rd October in front of noisy home supporters. Iran rescued some pride by finishing 3rd, after defeating Japan.
Some foreign experience to basketball players and specially to coach Sat Prakash Yadav can yield rich dividends. USA’s NBA is gaining and searching ground in India. At present, two of the brightest stars of court, Amritpal and Amjyot have foreign experience. Both of them play for Tokyo Excellence. Team is very young with average age of around 23. Many players are playing for a long time together. It has developed good chemistry between them. Indian Basketball Association is looking to start a Basketball league in India in a year. In many a schools, it is played religiously between cheers and jeers of the mates. All in all, the scene is bright and the sun can shine fully any time in near future.
Author: Vijay Anand
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The whole idea is to grow sports culture where sports are not only about playing but also about those heroes working off field to develop country through sports, bringing change to the society through it and making India a better place for sports lovers.