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Indian finish in 7th place on a 3- Decade High
*Continuing to make its rise among the Asian ranks, India beat Taipei 80-68, to end FIBA Asia Challenge 2016 in 7th place. It is to be recalled that India had also upset China and Philippines earlier on in this competition. Considering the higher number of teams this time around, this is India’s best ever performance at the Asian level in 27 years, since India finished 6th at the 1989 FIBA Asia Championship* New Delhi/Bengaluru, 18th September 2016: Closing out on a spectacular note, the 53rd ranked Indian team outclassed higher ranked Chinese Taipei (WR48) to end the 2016 FIBA Asia Challenge in 7th position. The tournament has entered its final day at the Twelve Thousand People Sport Hall, Azadi Sports Complexin Tehran, Iran. The margin of the 80-68 victory is especially significant considering that Taipei had beaten India by 24 points (90-66) earlier on in the preliminary group B. Prior to that India had lost to Taipei by 6 points during the 38th William Jones Cup International Basketball Tournament back in July.
Backup forward Rikin Pethani steps up, before Amritpal, Vishesh & TJ take over
Having come off the bench in all previous 7 games so far, Rikin Pethani made the most of his first start, literally grabbing the opportunity with both hands. After captain Amritpal Singh opened the scoring for India, Pethani took over, scoring 6 straight points to tie the game at 8-8 midway through the first quarter. A Taipei run sparked by the naturalized American Quincy Davis III followed, as India trailed 17-22 going into the second 10 minutes. The Pethani show continued in Q2, as India went on its own 10-2 run to reach halftime with a 1 point lead, 33-32. With his final statline reading 17 points and 9 rebounds, most of which came in the first half, Pethani had done more than enough. In the second half, two of India’s “Big Three” - centre Amritpal and shooting guard Vishesh Bhriguvanshi started to take over. A powerful dunk by Amritpal midway through the third got India a slender 3pt lead (36-39), before Taipei made another push of its own to lead 50-46. The momentum swung back India’s way late in the period thanks to 6 unanswered points by India which included a two pointer by the streaky high octane backup guard Talwinderjit Sahi with just 8 seconds left.
TJ Sahi had a huge contribution late in the game against Taipei. Image credit- FIBA Asia. India had now outscored Taipei in back to back quarters and led 52-50 heading into the final 10 minutes. The fourth quarter continued in India’s favour, starting with a three pointer by Vishesh (his second of the game), and another two by TJ. But Taipei was in no mood to back down. Quincy Davis had a dunk of his own to bring it within 5, before Yi-Hsiang Chou and Kai-Hsiang Hu combined to take Taipei back up by 1 point. That though turned out to be Taipei’s last stand, as captain Amritpal and TJ sparked another 8-0 run to take India up 70-63 with a little under 3 minutes remaining in the game. The last three minutes saw another 10-5 scoring spree for India to seal the memorable triumph.
Backup guard from Kerala Basil Philip gets a taste of FIBA Asia Challenge action. Image credit- FIBA Asia. Amritpal had recorded his 5th double double (at least 10 points and 10 rebounds in a single game) of the tournament, while Vishesh led India’s scorers with 22. Backups Rikin and TJ too had contributed more than 10 points each. Interestingly, the third component of India’s Big Three, power forward Amjyot Singh, with a reduced role, had 6 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal and a block. In a bid to avoid Taipei any easy scoring, he had also committed all of his 5 permitted fouls. India’s improved perimeter defensive close outs must also be lauded for restricting Taipei to just 3/17 from beyond the arc, after allowing 11 three pointers in their earlier head to head loss. Results on 18/9/2016 India (Vishesh Bhriguvanshi 22 pts, Amritpal Singh 20 pts 13 reb, Rikin Pethani 17 pts 9 reb, Talwinderjit Singh 13 pts) bt Taipei (Quincy Davis III 13 pts & 15 reb, Yu-An Chiang 16 pts, Yi-Hsiang Chou 15 pts) 80-68 (17-22, 16-10, 19-18, 28-18]
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 28 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. 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.
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 will earn 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. The 2016 FIBA Asia Challenge will be held at the Twelve Thousand People Sport Hall, located in the north & south of the main street of the Azadi Sport Complex. Host Iran is the defending champion.
The initial round of the tournament will be played in a round robin format. The 12 participating teams have been divided into 4 groups of 3 teams each, and each team will play the 2 teams that are in the same group as them. Preliminary Round Grouping Group A: China, Jordan, Kazakhstan Group B: Philippines, India, Chinese Taipei Group C: Iran, Qatar, Iraq Group D: Japan, Korea, Thailand All 12 preliminary round teams will advance to the second round, where they will be divided into 2 teams of 6 each. Each team will then play the 3 new teams in its group. The top 4 teams from each of the second round groups will then move on quarter-finals, followed by the semifinals and finals. For more information please visit: www.fiba.com/asia/challenge/2016
The final 12 members of the squad who will represent India at the FIBA Asia Challenge were selected at the end of a nearly one-month long training camp held at NMAM Institute of Technology (NITTE) in Karkala, Udupi district of coastal Karnataka. While the Indian side remains largely unchanged from last month’s 38th William Jones Cup International Basketball Tournament, there are a couple of key changes. Veteran swingman and defensive stopper Yadwinder Singh returns to the team, and is expected to provide much needed versatility on both ends of the floor in terms of matchups. Also, teenager Hariram Ragupathy, one of the stars from India’s historic 8th place finish at the 2016 FIBA Asia U18 Championship, makes his debut into the senior team. A small ceremony was held at the NITTE campus to bid farewell to the Indian squad, which was attended by Mr Chander Mukhi Sharma, Secretary General of BFI. “On behalf of BFI I convey my sincere thanks to NITTE University management, who for the last two years have been continuously providing us all the training facilities for the Indian team. This is my first visit here, but this is one of the best campus facilities I have seen,” said Mr Sharma. Addressing the departing contingent, he said, “Ultimately, it is the outcome of your efforts which will benefit basketball in India. You are the players who are icons for all other players in the country. So I wish you all the success and that you put up a performance that is even better than in all the previous championships that you have attended.”
Senior Men’s Squad for the FIBA Asia Challenge 2016
Jersey No Family Name(s) /Last Name First Name(s) /Given Name Place of Birth (City and State) Date of Birth (dd/mm/yyyy) Height (cm)(ft & inches) Weight (Kg) Position 4 Bhullar Arshpreet Singh Jalandhar Punjab 02/10/1996 190 (6’ 3’’) 86 G/F 9 Bhriguvanshi Vishesh Varanasi Uttar Pradesh 13/09/1991 195 (6’ 5’’) 95 G/F 10 Amritpal Singh Ganna Pind Punjab 05/01/1991 207 (6’ 9.5’’) 110 C 12 Philip Basil Sulthanbathery Kerala 10/01/1991 184 (6’) 76 G/F 14 Yadwinder Singh Rasulpur Khurd Punjab 30/12/1986 198 (6’ 6’’) 95 F 15 Pethani Rikin Sajiavadar Amreli Gujarat 02/12/1990 203 (6’ 8”) 104 C 22 Bhardwaj Ravi Chandigarh Chandigarh 31/10/1992 207 (6’ 9”) 100 F/C 25 Ragupathy Hariram Chennai Tamil Nadu 24/04/1998 184 (6’) 72 SG 27 Amjyot Singh Chandigarh Punjab/ Haryana 27/01/1992 203 (6’ 8”) 104 F 46 Sivakumar Prasanna Venkatesh Gobichettipalayam Tamil Nadu 25/09/1992 186 (6’ 1”) 85 G/F 66 Pari Akilan Chennai Tamil Nadu 20/07/1989 180 (5’ 10’’) 70 PG 99 Talwinderjit Singh Patiala Punjab 20/10/1986 182 (5’ 11’’) 80 PG
*PG - Point Guard / Feeder, G - Guard, F - Forward, G/F - Wing, PF - Power Forward, C - Centre, PF/C - Post
13) Coach: Sat Prakash Yadav 14) Coach: C. V. Sunny 15) Physiotherapist: Nikhil N. P. 16) Manager: Shaktikumar Mahipatsinh Gohil 17) FIBA Commissioner: Norman Swaroop Issac 18) FIBA Referee: Atanu Banerjee