New Delhi, Sep 19 (IANS) Basketball Federation of India (BFI) President K. Govindaraj has announced a cash prize of Rs.5 lakh for the players and coaching staff of the national team for their impressive performance at the recently-concluded FIBA Asia Challenge.
The Indian team produced a series of impressive performances in the tournament, stunning higher ranked teams such as China, Jordan and Chinese Taipei to finish in seventh place.
This is the best ever performance of the Indian men's team at the Asian level since finishing sixth 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 among Asia's best players in their respective positions.
"Reaching the top seven in Asia is an excellent achievement, especially considering the circumstances and opponents. We beat three teams who have better world rankings," Govindaraj said in a statement.
"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 facing the BFI, 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 vhampionships."
"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," BFI Secretary General Chander Mukhi Sharma added.
Reflecting on the team's performance, India 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," he added.
"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," seasoned guard Vishesh Bhriguvanshi said.