India gears up for FIBA U-16 Women's Asian Championship

The team has been together for barely two months and has seen little competitive action. It has been stationed in Bengaluru for three weeks but the unrelenting rain damaged the prospects of training both indoors – since the facilities were inundated – and outdoors.

India is currently placed in Division B alongside countries like Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Iran, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

As the FIBA U-16 Women's Asian Championship gets underway at the Sree Kanteerava and Koramangala Indoor stadiums here, India's singular aim will be to get back into the elite Division 'A'. The host will take on Nepal in its first game on Sunday.

India is currently placed in Division B alongside countries like Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Iran, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Division 'A' is where the regional heavyweights like defending champion and three-time winner China, Japan and Australia compete.

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“India must be in the top division,” said Zoran Visic, the senior India team coach who is also in-charge of the colts. “It’s a huge country with lots of talented players. So I hope we can do it like senior women’s team [which earned promotion in July].”

However he has his task cut out. The team has been together for barely two months and has seen little competitive action. It has been stationed in Bengaluru for three weeks but the unrelenting rain damaged the prospects of training both indoors – since the facilities were inundated – and outdoors.

“I can say nothing more than that we will do the best,” said Visic. “We played a few scrimmages, friendlies. On the open court I didn’t play 5v5 because it was very slippery. So we couldn't measure our team. But they are ready to learn and they are disciplined.”

Visic identified Kazakhstan and Malaysia as India's biggest challengers. “Kazhakhstan is a very physical side. Malaysia not that much but is very aggressive with the full-court press basketball it plays. But I am not afraid.”

Late on Saturday, the organisers were racing against time to get the maple-wood flooring at the Kanteerava stadium ready after monsoon had severely damaged the surface.  “I’m looking at it every day,” said Visic. “I hope it will be ready by Sunday.”

Both the organisers and the team are clearly playing catch-up. The outcome will be known over the course of the week.
 

In a late development, Iran's participation was cancelled by the FIBA for not having paid its fees for the last one-and-half-years. Iran had already arrived in the city for what would have been its first tournament in over three decades and even told the media that it was 'thrilled' to be in India.

"Despite repeated reminders -- the last sent 15 days ago -- Iran has failed to pay," Hagop Khajirian, FIBA Executive Director, Asia, said. "We then informed them that they were not eligible to participate. But they still chose to arrive."


 

The teams:

Division 'A': Group 'A': Australia, Korea, Chinese Taipei, New Zealand; Group 'B': China, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong.

Division 'B': Group 'A': India, Sri Lanka, Iran, Nepal; Group 'B': Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Maldives.

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