India’s U18 Boys’ squad has been announced for the 22nd U18 FIBA Asia Championship, which will be held in Mongolia’s capital city Ulaanbaatar from August 17-26, 2012. After spending time in camp in New Delhi for the past month, the 12-man roster to represent India at this event was released by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) on Sunday.
India were drawn in ‘Group A’ in the Preliminary Round of the tournament, along with China, Lebanon, and Hong Kong. Other teams who have qualified for this 16-team tournament are Korea, Japan, Singapore, Syria, Chinese Taipei, Bahrain, Indonesia, Mongolia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Philippines, and Saudi Arabia.
India’s Boys Team for 22nd U18 FIBA Asia Championship
- Akash Bhasin
- Khushmeet Singh Atwal
- Karthickeyen Saminathan
- Sreerag Narayanan Nair
- Loveneet Singh
- Amit Kanarjee
- Narender Grewal
- Shyam Sunder
- Karan Joshua
- Rakesh Sangwan
- Ajay Pratap Singh
- Palpreet Singh Brar
- Coach: Jai Prakash Singh
- Assistant Coach: Pawan Kumar
- Team Manager: Shekhar Chand Jain
- Physiotherapist: Naved Hameed
- August 17: Lebanon vs. India
- August 18: Indiavs. China
- August 19: Hong Kong vs. India
The Indian contingent will be accompanied to Mongolia with three officials: Commissioner/Supervisor Naresh Aneja, and referees Rajan Vellingirinathan and Sharad Vasant Bansode.
India goes into this tournament with mixed feelings. On the bright side, this team carries the optimism (and many of the same stars) who wowed Asia with a brave showing at the U16 FIBA Asia Games in Vietnam last year. Despite a 10th place finish, India gave a scare to some of Asia’s top teams. India’s star performers from that squad, like Ajay Pratap Singh, Loveneet Singh, Karthickeyen Saminathan, and Rakesh Sangwan, will be back for more with more experience under their belts. They will be teamed along with other up-and-coming faces like Narender Grewal and Amit Kanarjee. JP Singh, India’s noted tactician who was credited for orchestrating much of the U16 team’s success will return to take charge of this U18 squad.
But India is missing it’s biggest – literally and figuratively – piece from that U16 championship. 16 year old 7-footed prodigy Satnam Singh Bhamara has not been named in this squad, presumambly because he will be spending the time at the IMG Academy in USA. Despite playing limited minutes, Bhamara was a force in Vietnam, marking it his breakout tournament as he finished as the leading scorer in Asia and one of the tournament’s best defenders. His absence will be sorely missed by India.
India has also been unfortunate to find itself grouped in the preliminary round with one of the strongest China U18 teams in recent years. Led by two legit superstar players – Wang Zhelin and Zhou Qi – China are the favourites to win the tournament. They have won gold in this championship nine times previously, including two years ago at Sana’a, Yemen. India should be aiming to defeat lower-ranked Hong Kong to at least finish third in their group. The Indian youngsters will hope to even spring a surprise over beefy Lebanon – an extremely tough task – but if they do so they will move into the top eight of the tournament.
India finished 13th at the 21st U18 FIBA Asia Championship in Yemen back in 2010, and it has finished with the same ranking in the 2008 and 2006 edition of the tournament, too. In 2010, China won the tournament with a win over Korea in the Final.
China, as previously mentioned, are the favourites once more, but other nations who can aim to upset their dominance of this championship could be Korea, Iran, or Chinese Taipei.
If India has to start taking major steps into improving as a basketball nation, this team will have to make a point at this championship in Mongolia. The tournament will be a perfect canvas to watch India’s future stars in action. Hopefully they return with an improved standing.