October 4, 2015

China romp to FIBA Asia 2015 title; India improve to 8th place

China, one of the top basketball teams in the continent, hosted Asia's biggest basketball tournament, the 2015 FIBA Asia Basketball Championship (ABC) in Changsha from September 23 to October 3. Featuring four seven-footers, the hosts were the biggest team in the tournament, were backed by fervent home support and put in the longest duration of practice in preparation for this tournament. All of this resulted in the obvious conclusion: after coming up short in 2013, China showed their class over the competition this year by going undefeated through the course of the 2015 FIBA ABC to win the gold medal and automatically qualify for the basketball tournament at the Rio Olympics next year.

Closer to home, despite losing their final three games at the tournament, Team India returned from Changsha with their heads held high, making it to the Quarter-Finals of the tournament for the first time since 2013 and finishing at their highest position (8th) in the last 12 years.

The tournament's finale featured two of the biggest hoop-loving nations in Asia: China and 2013 silver-medalists Philippines. While China had qualified for the final with an unblemished record, the Philippines had a rockier journey - including an opening night loss - but had up made up for their hiccups with strong performances at the biggest moments. The final on Saturday, October 3rd was a defensive, ugly game of basketball, but China rose to the challenge to take care of business when it most counted. China took an eight point lead by halftime, dominating against the Philippines who struggled shooting the ball from the field all night. China's size had enough advantage over Philippines' Andray Blatche (17 points) to nullify his efforts all night. Guo Ailun scored a game-high 19 for China while young talent Zhou Qi added 16 to go with 14 rebounds. China held on to their advantage and won 78-67.

Earlier on Saturday, 2013 champions Iran survived a topsy-turvy game against Japan to win 68-63 and secure third place at the tournament. Mohammadsamad Nik Khahbahrami was fantastic all night, scoring 35 points to pace Iran's victory. Keijuro Matsui led Japan with 18. After Iran took a 12-point lead in the first quarter, Japan came storming back to make it a two-point game by halftime, and continued their momentum to lead 48-44 at the end of the third period. Iran saved their best for last, and Khahbahrami's hot shooting carried them to a win.

At the semi-final stage on Friday, Japan and the Philippines were deadlocked for three quarter before Jayson William (20) helped his team overcome a tough-shooting night and carried them to the final with a 81-70 win. Andray Blatche scored 22 for Philippines while captain Donaldo Hontiveros added 18. For Japan, Makoto Hiejima scored a game high 28 and Joji Takeuchi added 18. In the previous semi-final, the winners of the last eight FIBA ABCs - China and Iran - squared off. China started the game off aggressively, taking a 21-12 early lead, and kept up the momentum to win this clash of titans. China overcame 18 points and seven rebounds by Mohammadsamad Nik Khahbahrami and 16 and 11 by Hamed Haddadi.

China's Yi Jianlian was named the MVP of the tournament.

Despite domestic turmoil, the 2015 FIBA ABC turned out to be a fruitful tournament for Team India. India sent a tweaked 12-member squad to Changsha, featuring new head coach Sat Prakash Yadav and minus the presence of many veteran players, but they did well enough to finish the tournament with a 3-6 record at 8th place.

India were placed in Preliminary Round Group A along with reigning champions Iran, eventual fourth-place finishers Japan, and Malaysia. India's start against Malaysia was on the right foot. Dominating offensively, India blew out the game in the first three quarters and relaxed in the fourth to cruise to a comfortable 102-73 victory. Amjyot Singh collected 24 points and 10 rebounds for India, point guard Akilan Pari added 18 with six assists, and Yadwinder Singh had 16 and seven rebounds in India's win. Malaysia's Ivan Yeo had 18 points and 10 rebounds in a losing effort.

The going got much tougher for India in the second game against Iran, who started the game on a 27-11 run, leaving India chasing the scoreboard for the next three quarters. India showed some heart to close the gap to nine at halftime, but they were outclassed by Iran after halftime, who went on to win 88-66. Mohammad Hassanzadeh Saberi A had 18 for the winning side, overcoming a fantastic 27 point-9 rebound performance by Amjyot Singh.

India started off on a good foot against Japan, leading 18-15 at the end of the first quarter, but eventually, the Japanese pace and shooting was too much for the Indians to handle. Japan reclaimed the lead at halftime and kept on the pressure in the second half all the way to a 83-65 win. Joji Takeuchi was unstoppable with 22 points and 19 rebounds in Japan's win. Makoto Hiejima added 19 in Japan's win. India were paced by captain Vishesh Bhriguvanshi (24 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists) and, as usual, by Amjyot Singh (19 points, 10 rebounds).

India's solitary victory against Malaysia was good enough to qualify them for Second Round Group E, where they opened their accounts against the upstart and thus-far undefeated Palestine side. In what turned out to be the country's most crucial game, India relied on a brilliant, clutch performance by Amjyot Singh (32 points, 11 rebounds) to inch past Palestine 73-70. It was a crucial win for India, who, after a positive start, found themselves trailing by four at halftime. But Amjyot helped India bounce back up in the second half and keep up the lead until the end of the close second half. Bhriguvanshi helped out with 17 for India. Sani Sakakini (23), Jamal Abu Shamala (21), and Salim Sakakini (16) were Palestine's leading scorers.

India were caught napping early in their contest early next morning against Hong Kong, who came out stronger than expected and gave India a run for their money. Once again, it was the class of Amjyot (26 points, 12 rebounds) that proved to be the difference maker. India were down by five early and trailed 39-34 at halftime. But they finally gained the lead halfway in the fourth quarter and held on to their advantage en route to a 76-71 win. Yadwinder Singh had 18 points for India and Bhriguvanshi added 16. Chun Wai Wong (21), Siu Wing Chan (17), and Duncan Reid (16) were Hong Kong's leading scorers.

Fueled by two recent wins, India started off well against the Philippines in their last Second Round game, and led 17-16 at the end of the first quarter despite a tough-shooting night from their star Amjyot Singh. Eventually however, Philippines put their stamp on the game, playing efficient and unselfish basketball to blow India out easily, 99-65. Terrance Romeo led Philippines with 20, while India were paced by Bhriguvanshi (21) and Amrit Pal Singh (18 points, 13 rebounds).

Despite this loss, India's win against the Palestine was enough to ensure that they finished in a top four position in Group E and qualified for the tournament's Quarter-Final, where they faced the mighty Chinese. Ensuring that there would be no repeat of India's FIBA Asia Cup heroics from last year, China showed no mercy to India, dominating the game on both ends to win easily, 104-58. Yi Jianlian had 21 points and seven rebounds for China. For India, captain Bhriguvanshi impressed with a game-high 22 points while Yadwinder Singh added 16.

Out of semi-final contention, India were relegated to the 5-8th place classification games. They first played against Korea, and despite a semi-competitive start, India couldn't keep up with the frenetic offensive pace of their opponents for the rest of the game. Korea dominated India on the way to a 117-72 win, led by Tae Young Moon (22) and Sung Min Cho (10). Amjyot had 24 for India in the loss while Amrit Pal Singh added 18.

India's final game of the tournament was against Qatar, and they finished matter with a sour taste left in their mouths. India came out soft against Qatar, who opened up a 21 point halftime lead and left India with too much of a gap to cover after the break. Mohamed Hassan A
Mohamed scored 28 for Qatar and Mohammed Abdullah and Abduallah Matalkeh added 16 each. Amjyot Singh led India with 21 while Arvind Arumugam made the most of his minutes to score 16.

The Qatar loss was perhaps India's only underachievement of the competition, as they won all the other games where they were favoured to, and went a step further with the crucial win over Palestine. Their 8th place finish sees them finish in the top 10 for the first time in a dozen years.

India should be most proud and excited by the performances of 23-year-old Amjyot Singh, the Chandigarh-born player who is currently playing with the Tokyo Excellence of Japan's D-League. Amjyot, India's leading scorer, finished as the fourth-best scorer of the entire championship (20.9 ppg) and the ninth-best rebounder (8.3 rpg). He also played the tournament's third-most minutes (37 mpg). Captain Vishesh Bhriguvanshi enjoyed a good showing in Changsha, too, averaging 14 points and 4.8 assists per game, good for second-best in Changsha. Although Center Amrit Pal Singh wasn't as consistent as expected, he did a good job defensively and was strong on the boards. The performances of forward Yadwinder Singh and point guard Akilan Pari were also commendable.

India did especially well since they rolled out a team without the likes of Narendar Grewal, Pratham Singh, Rikin Pethani, Joginder Singh, Prasanna Venkatesh, and of course, new NBA-draftee Satnam Singh. The lack of so many talents completely deprived India of a deep bench, and thus, the big three of Amjyot, Amrit Pal, and Bhriguvanshi were forced to play big minutes and carry a heavy burden all tournament. Although they did well for stretches, fatigue eventually caught up with them and India missed a chance to spring a few more surprises. India could've finished a spot or two higher in the rankings if they were at full strength in Changsha.

Still, the performance showed that India - particularly Amjyot - are continuing to take strong strides in improvement in the continent and will continue to evolve into a team to fear over the next few years.

Final Standings
  • 1. China
  • 2. Philippines
  • 3. Iran
  • 4. Japan
  • 5. Lebanon
All Tournament Team
  • Yi Jianlian (China) - MVP
  • Guo Ailun (China)
  • Zhou Qi (China)
  • Jayson William (Philippines)
  • Mohammadsamad Nik Khahbahrami (Iran)

October 3, 2015

2015 Junior (U18) National Basketball Championship tips off in Ludhiana (Punjab)

There is a 'Wall of Fame' at the Ludhiana Basketball Academy (LBA) at the Punjabi city's Guru Nanak Indoor Stadium, featuring photographs of some of the greatest basketball products of the academy and the coaches or patrons who helped the success from above. The Wall features faces of the legendary late LBA coach Dr S Subramanian and former late Basketball Federation of India (BFI) CEO Harish Sharma over the faces of LBA talents of the past, present, and future, including Palpreet Singh, Amjyot Singh, Jagdeep Singh Bains, Ranbir Chopra, and Satnam Singh. Every new basketball prospect that enters the arena remains close to the watchful gaze of these legends and is only an inspired moment away from following in their footsteps.

On Friday, October 2, Ludhiana - already a hotbed for Indian basketball - became the center of attention for hoops in the country again, bringing together of hundreds of under-18 basketball talents to find inspiration in the hallowed ground of the Guru Nanak Stadium for India's largest junior basketball meet. The 66th Junior National Basketball Championship for Boys and Girls tipped off on October 2nd and is set to be held until October 9th in Ludhiana. 24 boys' and 24 girls' teams from all over India have descended to Punjab for the tournament, which is being organized by the Punjab Basketball Association under the aegis of the BFI.

The hosts Punjab's boys team will step out to the tournament with heavy expectations: they are the tournament's reigning champions after clinching the title last year in Kochi and will have the advantage of home court and passionate home fans behind them this year. 2013 winners and 2014 runners-up Delhi will look to give Punjab a run for their money again, while Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra will also field strong squads. In the girls' division, Chhattisgarh will look to make it three wins in three years, but will have to fend strong opponents like Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, and hosts Punjab.

2015 Junior Nationals Participating Teams

  • Group A: Punjab, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka.
  • Group B: Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh.
  • Group C: Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Group D: Odisha, Gujarat, Puducherry.
  • Group E: Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Telangana, West Bengal.
  • Group F: Chandigarh, Bihar, Tripura, Uttarakhand.
  • Group A: Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Karnataka, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh.
  • Group B: Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Haryana, West Bengal.
  • Group C: Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh.
  • Group D: Rajasthan, Goa, Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Group E: Odisha, Chandigarh, Puducherry, Uttarakhand.
  • Group F: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Telangana, Tripura.
The tournament's opening ceremony featured chief guest for the occasion was Ramesh Wadhera (CEO of Feather Line Impex Pvt. Ltd.), former BFI President RS Gill and Teja Singh Dhaliwal, Secretary General of the Punjab Basketball Association.

Uttar Pradesh girls got off to a winning start as they pulled away in the fourth quarter against Haryana in a Group B win. UP's Shreyasi scored 18 to open her account for the tournament. In another Group B clash, Kerala showed no mercy to West Bengal, holding their opponents down to less than five points her quarter en route to a 59-15 win.

The boys' division saw two athletic squads - Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka - give the fans something to cheer for. MP's Mithun (18) and Karnataka's Karthikh (19) went head to head in an exciting game. After leading by one at the beginning of the fourth quarter, MP finally pulled away in the end and won 58-50. In another boys' clash, Tamil Nadu showcased their offensive firepower to blow out Kerala 80-59. R. Hari Ram and A. Surya each scored 23 for TN who held an 11 point lead at halftime and found themselves up by 20 in the third before taking their feet off the pedal a little as the game ended.

Selected Opening Day Scores Girls
  • Uttar Pradesh (Shreyasi 18) bt Haryana (Bharti 15, Surya 14) 56-47 (13-15, 20-6, 8-15, 15-11).
  • Kerala (Nivyaraj PP 14) bt West Bengal 59-15 (17-4, 18-3, 12-4, 12-4).
  • Goa bt Jammu and Kashmir 36-16 (5-4, 14-4, 10-4, 9-4).
  • Madhya Pradesh (Mithun 18, Ashish 13) bt Karnataka (Karthikh 19) 58-50 (8-11, 16-11, 14-15, 20-13).
  • Tamil Nadu (R. Hari Ram 23, A. Surya 23, P. Baladhaneshwar 14) bt Kerala 80-59 (25-16, 18-16, 22-11, 15-16).
  • Haryana (Naveen 17, Deepak 15) bt Andhra Pradesh (S. Harsha Reddy 17) 89-38 (29-14, 23-0, 26-9, 11-15).

September 29, 2015

2015-16 Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA programme aims to engage more than 1.5 million youth and coaches in India

The numbers for the 2015-16 season of Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA programme are staggering, and as burgeoning students of advanced NBA stats, that is where we shall start first. The programme, a comprehensive youth basketball initiative that applies the values of basketball to positively impact the lives of Indian boys and girls, expects to engage more than 1.5 million boys and girls and 2,700 physical education instructors and coaches in 2015-16. The programme will nearly double its number of participating cities, expanding from eight to 14. Already, since the programme's inception in 2013, more than 1 million youth in over 1,000 schools across nine cities have participated. In addition, more than 15,000 basketballs and 300 basketball rims have been distributed and installed through the program, and NBA International Basketball Operations staff has trained more than 2,000 physical education teachers across the country. All those numbers are set to get a lot bigger.

The new season of the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA programme tipped off at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium in Kochi, Kerala, on Tuesday, September 29, with a 'Train the Trainers' programme. After being hosted in eight cities last year, the programme will expand to a further 14 for 2015-16: Ludhiana, Chandigarh, Jalandhar, Chennai, Delhi, Kochi, Kottayam, Kolkata, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Jaipur, Lucknow and Hyderabad. It will run from now until March 2016.

"We are delighted that the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA programme is expanding to more cities and reaching more children," said a Reliance Foundation spokesperson, "This programme has used the sport of basketball to greatly impact the lives of Indian children. We are grateful to the NBA for sharing their world-class expertise and resources, and to the schools, coaches and physical education instructors who continue to support this initiative."

"The Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA program continues our goal of providing Indian youth with a platform to stay active and learn the values of basketball, including leadership, teamwork, and healthy living," said NBA India Vice President & Managing Director Yannick Colaco. "On the heels of Sim Bhullar becoming the first player of Indian descent to play in the NBA and Satnam Singh becoming the first Indian-born player to be drafted into the NBA, children in India are as excited as ever about trying the game, and the growth of our programme will ensure we get basketballs in the hands of even more boys and girls across the country."

The programme, which remains free for participants, will include a train the trainer initiative for local coaches, in-school basketball clinics, elite training camps and finals in each city featuring 3-on-3 and 5-on-5 competitions. NBA International Basketball Operations staff will be based in each of the cities for three months to oversee the program. Each participating school will receive essential equipment to encourage and facilitate participation among its students, including an India-specific coaching guide with curricula for in-school and after-school programmes, basketballs, cones, and a Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA poster. In addition, each participating city will host three youth oriented basketball festivals featuring mini hoops for kids aged 6-10.

NBA Legends Bruce Bowen and Muggsy Bogues, WNBA All-Stars Tamika Catchings and Swin Cash, and Sim Bhullar, the first player of Indian descent to play in the NBA, have all traveled to India to support and participate in the programme.

Prospective participants, including children, parents, coaches and schools, can visit rf.jrnba.com for program information, including training resources and tips on staying fit.

September 21, 2015

Rain disrupts 2015 Youth Nationals Finals; Tamil Nadu/Delhi (Boys) and Tamil Nadu/Chhattisgarh (Girls) declared joint winners

The 32nd Youth National Basketball Championship for Boys and Girls in Bhavnagar (Gujarat) began under the unkind threat of rain last week. And by the time the tournament - featuring India's finest under-16 basketball players - concluded on Monday, September 21, the rain remained the only thing undefeated.

Heavy rainfall washed out the boys and girls Finals the games at the MK Bhavnagar University on Monday, leaving the Basketball Federation of India's (BFI) Technical Commission with no choice but to cancel all the contests and declare all participants 'winners'. Tamil Nadu and Delhi shared the gold medal in the boys' category while Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh were declared champions in the girls' section.

It isn't a surprise that the tailend of the monsoon season provides heavy rainfall in various parts of the country, including Gujarat. But what is a shock is that the tournament's organizers did not have an indoor venue to conduct the games. In recent years, all of the national BFI tournaments have been conducted at indoor courts, with only a few games at an alternative outdoor venue. But the Youth Nationals - the first national conducted by the new BFI executive committee - was an exception, as all the games were held on outdoor courts, despite the threat of unfriendly weather.

The BFI split into two opposing committees earlier this year, with each questioning the legality of the other in an ongoing off-court battle. But Team Govindraj - the BFI faction behind the organization of the 32nd Youth Nationals - have held firm of their stand atop the federation and continued to hold events in India and abroad as normal.

Tamil Nadu did a double in both boys and girls category at the Youth Nationals last year and were looking to repeat the feat this time around. However, they have had to settle for sharing the title with Delhi and Chhattisgarh in the boys' and girls' section respectively.

P. Baladhaneshwar from Tamil Nadu was named as the boys’ MVP for the tournament. This is his second MVP trophy in two years at the Youth National Basketball Championship. For the girls, Chhattisgarh’s Gulabsha Ali was named MVP.

Maharashtra Girls defeated Punjab 51-42 behind 17 points by Rujata Pawar in the Bronze Medal game to finish third. The Boys' Bronze Medal game was also washed out due to rain and thus, both Haryana and Punjab were adjudged to finish at third place.

A day earlier, the Semi-Finals had given basketball fans a little more reason to cheer. In the Girls' section, Chhattisgarh's rising new talent Gulabsha Ali scored 24 points to help her side defeat Maharashtra to enter the Final. After a close first quarter, a 22-9 run by Chhattisgarh in the second quarter sealed the deal, and Chhattisgarh never looked back. The second girls' semi-final between TN and Punjab got off to a low-scoring start, with Punjab leading 16-15 at halftime. But scoring - chiefly from TN's end - got into a higher gear after the halftime break, and TN finished the final two quarters clinically to win 52-39. Punjab's Sakshi had 18 in a losing effort.

The boys' semi final between TN and Haryana saw several exceptional individual performances, including TN's duo of P. Baladhaneshwar (23) and GK Manikandan (20) and Haryana's Rinku (22). But it was TN who kept their command of the game most of the way, and were untroubled except a late run by Haryana. TN won 72-62. In the second boys' semi-final, Delhi started the first quarter against Punjab in ruthless fashion, putting forward a 24-4 to take away all hope from their opponents. The rest of the game was a cruise for Delhi en route to a 67-47 win. Manik (21), Hansraj (19), and Sourav (17) were the top scorers for Delhi, while Abhi Kumar scored 22 for Punjab in a losing effort.

Final Scores
  • Boys: Tamil Nadu vs. Delhi - washed out.
  • Girls: Tamil Nadu vs. Chhattisgarh - washed out.
Third/Fourth Place
  • Boys: Punjab vs. Haryana - washed out.
  • Girls: Maharashtra (Rutuja Pawar 17, Neha Vinod Shahu 14, Shruti Sherigar 13) bt. Punjab (Sakshi Sharma 14) 51-42 (11-9, 6-11, 15-10, 19-12).
Final Standings


1. Tamil Nadu and Delhi
3. Haryana and Punjab
5. Kerala


1. Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh
3. Maharashtra 
4. Punjab 
5. Madhya Pradesh

Hoopdarshan Episode 17: 2015 FIBA ABC preview with Enzo Flojo


In just a few days, 16 of the top teams in Asia will head to Changsha (China) to take part in the 2015 FIBA Asia Basketball Championship (ABC). In episode of 17 of the Indian basketball podcast Hoopdarshan, we bring abroad the Asian hoops expert Enzo Flojo to help preview the ABC. The Filipino Flojo joins Hoopdarshan co-hosts Kaushik Lakshman and Karan Madhok to break down all the teams, top contenders, and top players to keep our eye on in China. We give special mention to our respective homelands (India and Philippines), and allow Flojo to make a prediction for the champion.

Enzo Flojo is the man behind HoopNut.com, the most consistent source of all Asian basketball news and opinion. He's from Quezon City in the Philippines and has written for Rapplier, PBA Inquirer, and has an excellent column for FIBA Asia called Asia On My Mind.

Tune in to our episode to hear a group by group breakdown of the big tournament, our title predictions, and a lot of wholly essential thoughts on the Burger King Whoppers, San Miguel Beer, and Jollibee's takeover of the world.

Hoopdarshan aims to be the true voice of Indian basketball, and since we're such hopeless fans of the game, it will become the voice of everything basketball related we love, from the NBA to international hoops, too. On every episode of Hoopdarshan, we will be inviting a special guest to interview or chat to about a variety of topics. With expert insight from some of the brightest and most-involved people in the world of Indian basketball, we hope to bring this conversation to a many more interested fans, players, and followers of the game.

Make sure to follow Hoopdarshan on Soundcloud or search for 'Hoopdarshan' on the iTunes Store! Auto-sync Hoopdarshan to your preferred podcast app NOW!

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    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?

    September 16, 2015

    Three Indians attending FIBA Asia 3x3 Youth Camp in Qatar

    Two youth Indian basketball players and one coach have been invited to attend the inaugural FIBA Asia 3x3 Youth Camp in Doha (Qatar). The camp is being organized by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) and supported by the Qatar Olympic Committee and Qatar Basketball Federation from September 5-18.

    According to a report by Ekalavyas.com, Indian players Nimmy George (Kerala), Rahul Mehla (Punjab), and Srinivasa Murthy (Karnataka) are currently at the camp, which is being held at the Gharafa Training Hall in Doha.

    The FIBA Asia 3x3 Youth Camp is being held for players ages 15-17 and coaches as well. Players from several other Asian countries apart from India are attending the camp, including Turkmenistan, Laos, Uzbekistan, Iraq, Bangladesh, Tajikistan, Thailand, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Kuwait, Yemen, Nepal, Iran, Cambodia, Bhutan, Maldives, Indonesia and Qatar. A total of 139 particpants from 23 countries registered for the camp, reported the Qatar Tribune.