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National Men’s Basketball team trains at Nitte, Udupi4 min read

September 20, 2015 3 min read

National Men’s Basketball team trains at Nitte, Udupi4 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Indian Men’s Basketball Team has been gearing up at the Nitte University Campus, to face top seeded teams at the International Basketball Federation’s (FIBA) Asia Championship, 2015. The team is in the final stages of preparation before they face Malaysia on September 23, 2015 in their opening match in China.

Having qualified eight times for the final rounds since 1965, team India is looking forward to putting up a good show to qualify for the 2016 Olympics, which is to be held in Rio de Janeiro.

TMJ caught up with the captain of the team, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, during their training session.

How are your preparations going for the FIBA Asian Championship, 2015?

We have some problems, two of our players are in Japan, and two others have injured themselves. But, our preparation is going strong with daily practices and sessions. We have been preparing for this tournament for the past two months. Our coach has been grilling us and our game play has improved a lot.

The team finished 7th in the last FIBA Asia Championship, and 11th in the year before. What are your prospects for this year to improve our rank?

This time, we have been practicing harder. We actually think that we can make it to the quarter finals. We had some problems with the basketball federation and the government with organising camps and training sessions; hence, we were unable to have adequate practice. But this time, they have provided us with better facilities and we are hoping to do much better.

You are grouped with higher ranked teams like Iran and Japan. Keeping this in mind, how does your preparation change?

Iran is very good because they have been playing since the past three Olympics’. Out of the past five FIBA Asia Championships, they have won three. Our preparations and strategy is the same for every match. Japan is at par with us and we think that this time we should be able to beat them.

Satnam Singh was in the news recently for getting drafted into NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. Why isn’t he part of the national team for this tournament?

It’s a very good thing, and I’m happy for him, for being the first Indian to get drafted into the NBA. Truthfully, there are better players than him on the team. He said that he will focus on his NBA career, after which he will play for the national team.

What do you have to say about losing Scott Flemming as the coach?

Scott Flemming was a very good coach in comparison to everyone else. There were some problems with the federation and he also got an offer to be the Head Coach at the Northwest Nazarene University.

In what way will these problems you mentioned affect the future scope of basketball in India?

There is some problem at the higher management level in the federation, but we do not know what it is. All we have to do is just focus on our game and do well. But, I really want the federation issues to be solved soon. If it goes on for long, it will harm basketball in India. Now, we are improving and we have had lots of developments. Maybe in a couple of years, we will finally be number one in Asia (laughs).

Do you think basketball, as a sport, will develop further in India, even though it’s given less importance in comparison to other sports?

Yes, there should be, if leagues are introduced. I believe, leagues bring in foreign players, and matches are played at a state level with these foreign players. When we play with power players, we try to match up to them and hence improve ourselves, through the experience and exposure. These leagues will help in making basketball a popular sport in India.

In spite of less media coverage, basketball is growing in popularity in India. Why do you think that is?

As far as media coverage is concerned, it is coming up. There is an online news portal called www.ekalavyas.com, which covers basketball news and updates in India. Sadly, since we don’t have any league matches, people don’t follow up with the latest news of the sport. Having said that, I’m glad to know that in schools and other institutes, basketball is being given equal importance too.

Edited by Kavana Desai