The Indian men’s basketball team is in with a good chance to qualify for next year’s FIBA Asia Cup as it takes on Saudi Arabia and Palestine in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Friday and Saturday.
Five teams that finished third in their respective groups first qualifying round — Chinese Taipei (Group B), Guam (Group C), India (Group D), Saudi Arabia (Group E), and Palestine (Group F) — will figure in the Second Qualifying round in two bio-bubbles in Saudi Arabia and Guam. Indonesia, who finished third in Group A got a direct berth as host of the event.
The five teams have been divided into two groups — Group H with India, Saudi Arabia, and Palestine and Group G will have Guam and Chinese Taipei. The top two from the three-team Group H will qualify for the FIBA Asia Cup to be held in Indonesia next year, while one team from Guam and Chinese Taipei will qualify for the tournament finals.
India will play Saudi Arabia on August 20 (Friday) and take on Palestine the next day. Both matches will be played at King Abdullah Sports City Hall, Jeddah. Thirteen teams have already qualified for the FIBA Asia Cup in Indonesia next year and the three teams from this round will complete the 16-team field.
India’s head coach Veselin Matic has picked a strong team comprising Arvind Kumar Muthu Krishnan, Pratyanshu Tomar, Pranav Prince, Muin Bek Hafeez, Joginder Singh, Jagdeep Singh, Sahaij Pratap Singh Sekhon, Amjyot Singh, Aravind Annadurai, Amritpal Singh, Prashant Singh Rawat and Vishesh Bhriguvanshi.
The team looks strong on paper as it has experienced players like Bhriguvanshi, Amjyot and Amritpal, and Arvind Annadurai along with youngsters like Pranav Prince and Pratyanshu Tomar.
In Amjyot and Amritpal the team has players who have experience of playing in the NBA G-League and leagues abroad like Japan and Australia. He is currently playing for Patriot BBC in Rwanda.
Amritpal Singh also has the experience of playing in Japan and Australia.
The squad had a lengthy camp in a bio-bubble in Bengaluru, working on various aspects of the game under Matic.
Matic, a Serbian who has coached Poland, Syria, Libya, and Iran among others, took charge of India in 2019 and had spent the entire lockdown due to Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 knowing his players and working out a long-term development plan for the team. It was under him that the team finished third in the 1st Qualifying event in February this year.