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Asian Games: Indian Women's Basketball Team Selection leaves unanswered questions
Injured and recently inactive players named in squad; additionally new players asked to join the Indian team camp instead of giving opportunities to existing campers.
The Indian women's basketball program has faced uncertainty in recent months due to administrative transitions in the National Federation, and has been forced to skip the Senior and U16 Asian Championships.
Now it appears that even the contingent announced for the upcoming 2023 Asian Games has raised many unanswered questions.
Injured/out-of-form players named in squad?
For starters, it is being reliably learnt that from the 16-member squad list declared on August 24, as many as five players had not even participated in the last Senior National Basketball Championship (the 72nd edition which was held in Udaipur between November 27 to December 4, 2022), ostensibly due to injury. This raises eyebrows since a solid showing in the Senior Nationals is usually the key to getting invited to the Indian team camp.
Additionally, some of the top-performing players from the previous Nationals have not made the cut to the final team, including those from States like Delhi that finished in the top half of the standings.
Among the most notable players missing from the team is the veteran Raspreet Sidhu.
Speaking on her non-selection, Sidhu said:
“It came as a shock to me. From being the Captain and the Top Scorer for India at the 3x3 Asia Cup(held at Singapore from March 29-April 2, 2023), and also being one of the Top Scorers at the recently concluded Senior Nationals at Udaipur (214 points in 6 games), and being instrumental in getting a Bronze for Delhi, I was not even added in the team or the long list sent to IOA for the Asian Games. I was hoping for a fair and just selections for such prestigious games. But no selection trials were even called before making the final team. This is extremely demoralising, especially when you have been playing and performing for India for the past 18 years.”
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New players asked to join camp
Finally, in a further departure from existing norms, even after the publication of the team list on August 24, it is being reliably learnt that as many as six new players were invited to join the camp. This is surprising considering that if any replacements were needed for the Indian team (e.g. to substitute for the injured players) - those replacements should have come from within the existing campers themselves - who would have already spent their valuable time and energy training with the team. Instead, as many as 13 of the ‘unselected’ campers were sent back home, only for six new players to join the team-in-training.
More changes likely?
With less than 3 weeks for the Asian Games 2023 to tip-off, more changes are likely, and a revised roster is expected to be announced soon. But these ‘unconventional’ developments will lower the morale of other deserving players who will undoubtedly feel shortchanged by their exclusion.