FIBA Asia women’s cup: Australia starts favourite

Matches will be held at the refurbished Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium and the Koramangala Indoor Stadium.

Australian and Chinese basketball team members practise ahead of the FIBA Asia Women’s Cup.   -  K. Murali Kumar

The FIBA Asia women's cup, which commences here on Sunday, gives basketball fans in the city a chance to witness high-quality action. Matches will be held at the refurbished Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium and the Koramangala Indoor Stadium.

Australia starts as favourite in the elite Division ‘A’, while India, Lebanon and Kazakhstan are among the strong sides in the lower Division ‘B’. Australia – competing in this tournament for the first time - boasts of skilled and decorated hoopsters. Belinda Snell, Kelsey Griffin and Marianna Tolo have all had stints in the WNBA, while others like Katie-Rae Ebzery (Dynamo Moscow guard) and Laura Hodges (three-time Olympian) have consistently excelled on the international arena.

Defending champion Japan, led by point guard Asami Yoshida (2013 and 2015 FIBA Asia all-tournament team pick), is expected to give Australia a run for its money. Star player Ramu Tokashiki has given this tournament a miss, preferring instead to represent Seattle Storm in the WNBA.

China and New Zealand could spring a surprise as well.

For India, the priority would be to win Division B, in order to earn a promotion for the next edition of the championship. The squad, under new head coach Zoran Visic, has been training at the Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium for the last six weeks. Earlier this month, the side competed in the William Jones Cup, at Taipei. Despite losing all five of its outings, against superior teams like New Zealand and Chinese Taipei, the experience helped the players gain valuable match-practice.

‘Good job’

“It was great to play against Division A teams. Our girls did a good job, given the quality of opposition. The players in elite foreign nations play like men – they are physically very strong. Our Indian girls are not too strong, but we have improved in other aspects," Visic said here on Saturday.

He appealed to the fans to come to the stadium in big numbers. “I hope that the stands will be full, and that people will come to support our Indian team,” Visic added.

P. S. Poojamol misses the tournament due to a knee injury. The Kerala forward has been replaced by Grima Merlin.

Tickets are available online at www.ticketgenie.in/fiba-tickets, and is also available at box office counters at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium. Daily tickets are priced at Rs. 100, Rs. 200 and Rs. 250. Entry to matches held at Koramangala Indoor Stadium is free.

Sunday’s fixtures

Division A (all at Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium): South Korea v Australia (11 a.m.); Philippines v Japan (1.15 p.m.); Chinese Taipei v DPR Korea (3.30 p.m.); New Zealand v China (5.45 p.m.).

Division B (at Koramangala Indoor Stadium, except for India match): Fiji v Singapore (3 p.m.); Lebanon v Kazakhstan (6 p.m.); India v Uzbekistan (8 p.m., at Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium).

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