Basketball is Life for us, and so any positive growth is a moment of rejoicing. GBA was truly happy to see a sea change in the way Indian Cagers performed at the recently concluded FIBA Asia Championship. This is indeed an indicator that Basketball in India is growing and will soon be a formidable force to reckon with. The challenge now is keep building on our performance.
Continuing to make its rise among the Asian ranks, yesterday India ended FIBA Asia Challenge 2016 in 7th place, upsetting 3 higher ranked teams in the process. This is India men’s best ever performance at the Asian level in 27 years, since finishing 6th at the 1989 FIBA Asia Championship.
From an individual performance standpoint, India’s ‘Big Three’ of centre Amritpal Singh, power forward Amjyot Singh and shooting guard Vishesh Bhriguvanshi have reaffirmed their status as one of Asia’s best players in their respective positions.
Recognizing these achievements, that could well be the start of a new golden era of Indian men’s basketball, Basketball Federation of India (BFI) President K Govindaraj has announced a cash prize of INR 5,00,000/- to the entire team and coaching staff.
“Reaching the top 7 in Asia is an excellent achievement, especially considering the circumstances and opponents,” said Mr Govindaraj. “We beat three teams who have better world rankings. This cash prize is a small token of appreciation for our players’ indomitable spirit. They have kept India’s flag flying high. This is a culmination of all that sacrifice by everybody involved.”
Elaborating on the challenging circumstances, Mr Govindaraj said, “It is important to remember that even though our national federation has approval from the international body i.e. FIBA, we have not received any government funding for almost two years now. In spite of this we have been able to send our national teams for participation in ten international events and conducted all the National Championships.”
“Prior to the team’s departure, I had wished that the players put up a performance that is even better than in all the previous championships they have attended. They have superbly delivered,” added BFI Secretary General Chander Mukhi Sharma.
Best performance by an Indian men’s team in 27 years
India’s 7th place finish out of a 12 team strong competition, could well be its best performance in the last 27 years. The side has had better finishes in terms of final standings in previous editions of this competition (which was formerly known as “FIBA Asia Cup” and “FIBA Asia Stankovic Cup”). India had finished 5th out of 5 teams in 2008, 6th out of 8 teams in 2004, and 7th out of 9 teams in 2014. But considering the smaller field on these occasions, India’s current 7th place (with 4 wins & 4 losses) is its best ever performance in 27 years, after its 6th place finish in the 1989 Asian Basketball Championship.
This is also the only time when India has beaten 3 higher ranked sides (China, Philippines and Taipei) in the same event.
It is also pertinent to note that only last year, at the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship, India had finished 8th, its best ever since 2003. So the current 7th place is another big step forward. This is following another historic achievement reached by the U18 boys national team earlier this July, when they finished in the top 8 of the FIBA Asia U18 Championship.
What makes the victory over Taipei even sweeter is the fact that this could well be India’s first ever win against the side. Most importantly, the victory proved that on their day, when all guns are firing, India can beat some of the best teams in Asia.
Reflecting on the side’s performance, Head Coach Sat Prakash said, “The Indian team has earned lots of appreciation from FIBA President (Horacio Muratore) and other officials as well as from other good teams in Asia. This time around we have focused especially on defence and were able to successfully execute our tactics as practiced in the training camps. Our boys and India overall are now confident about taking on any challenge in the near future. This achievement does not belong to a single person but was a good team effort by all.”
“It feels good and I’m happy with the performance. We can still do a lot better in the upcoming tournaments and I hope we will continue with this energy and morale,” said seasoned guard Vishesh Bhriguvanshi.
India’s Big Three Among Asia’s best- Again!
India’s role players of Rikin Pethani, Talwinderjit Sahi, Prasanna Venkatesh, Akilan Pari and Ravi Bhardwaj, all admirably put their best foot forward when it was needed. But it was the core ‘Big Three’ that led the charge yet again. Here are their impressive numbers across the 8 games India played:
- Shooting guard Vishesh Bhriguvanshi: The Varanasi veteran was superlative to say the least. The overall assist leader from the previous edition of the tournament in 2014, when India had famously beaten China for the first time, this time around he led all players in steals per game (2.5 stlpg)! With 16.9 points per game (ppg), he was 11th overall in scoring (3rd among guards). His 3.8 assists per game (apg) is 5th overall and 3rd among guards. His 77.8 free throw % (FT%) was 6th overall & 4th among guards. His 4.4 rebounds per game is 5th among guards. His +14.6 efficiency per game (effpg) — (calculated as: PTS + REB + AST + STL + BLK − missed field goals – missed freethrows – turnovers) — is 11th overall and 2nd among guards.
- Power forward Amjyot Singh from Chandigarh: Amjyot was number 1 overall in freethrow shooting (90.3%) hitting 28/31 freethrows. His 8.3 rpg was 3rd among forwards and 8th overall. His 2 double doubles (i.e. when a player crossed double digits in any two statistical categories in a single game) was 3rd among forwards and 7th overall. His 12.8 ppg was 6th best among forwards. His .6 blocks per game is 3rd best among forwards. His +14.1 effpg is 6th best among forwards. His 2.4 apg is 5th best among forwards. His 37% from the field is 10th among forwards.
- Captain Amritpal Singh: The 6ft 9.5’’ centre was the rock solid foundation on which both India’s offense and defence was built. Statistically, he was arguably the best of the Big Three, finishing in the top 10 in multiple statistical categories across all 5 playing positions combined. His 17.8 ppg is 8th overall & 4th among centres. His 10.4 rpg was 4th overall & 3rd among centres. His 1.1 blkpg is 7th overall, 6th among centres. His +19.3 EFFPG was 8th overall & 4th among centres. His 5 double doubles was 2ndoverall and the best among centres. Incredibly for a centre, who are invariably the slowest players on the floor, Amritpal was 8th overall in steals (1.8), and the best among centres. His 1.5 apg is 6th among centres. His 34.1 mpg was 4th highest, showing India’s reliance on the big man.
Bhriguvanshi’s 34 points against Taipei in the preliminary round and Talwinderjit Singh’s 32 against Kazakhstan are the 4th and 6th highest single game scoring numbers, respectively, in the entire tournament.
For more player stats, visit: www.fiba.com/asia/challenge/2016/playerstats
About the FIBA Asia Challenge 2016
The FIBA Asia Challenge was previously known as the FIBA Asia Cup. It is the first step in the qualification process for the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup (formerly known as “FIBA Asia Championship”). The top 5 teams earned for their respective sub-zones an extra berth at the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup, which will be the first inter-continental tournament featuring teams from both Asia and Oceania (i.e. Australia & New Zealand). The top teams from the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup qualify to play the 2017 New Competition System, from where 7 teams will progress to the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
- South Korea
- Chinese Taipei
For more information please visit: www.fiba.com/asia/challenge/2016