India in tough group at Asian basketball meet

New Delhi, Sep 19 (IANS) The Indian basketball team has been placed in a tough group with reigning champions Iran at the 28th FIBA Asia Men’s Championship that will be held in Changsha, China from September 23 to October 3.

India, who have been placed in Group A, will also have to tackle strong title contenders Japan and Malaysia.

The FIBA Asia Championship serves as a qualifying event for the 2016 Olympics to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The Indian team, who will be captained by the experienced Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, boasts a strong attacking line-up that includes talented young forwards Amjyot Singh and Amritpal Singh.

Amritpal and Amjyot are the first Indian players to secure professional playing contracts in Japan and will be raring to showcase their talent at Asian basketball’s marquee event.

Bhriguvanshi’s ONGC teammate Yadwinder Singh is also expected to play a crucial role for the team.

Rajesh Uppar (point guard), Vikas Kumar (small forward/shooting guard), A. Aravind (power forward) and Siddhant Shinde (guard) will provide much needed support to the key starters.

Promising teenagers Akashdeep Hazra and Gurvinder Gill will be the other two forwards making their debut at the senior Asian level.

Despite being placed in a tough group, Bhriguvanshi asserted that the Indians are determined to give a tough fight to their opponents.

“Most of our core team is intact, so we hope to perform very well. Our primary goal is to win our first game against Malaysia, and give tough fights to Iran and Japan. If we can manage that, we will progress to the second round,” he was quoted as saying in a statement on Saturday.

The Indian team will be coached by Sat Prakash with P.J. Sebastian as his deputy.

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