SABA tournament: India emerges champion

India has now booked a spot in the FIBA Asia Challenge to be held in Tehran (Iran) in September.

The victorious Indian team.   -  G. P. Sampath Kumar

India eased past Bangladesh 95-35 to emerge the champion in the South Asian Basketball Association (SABA) qualifying tournament here on Friday. The host — unbeaten in all three fixtures — has now booked a spot in the FIBA Asia Challenge to be held in Tehran (Iran) in September.

India’s dominance was established early, when forward Vishesh Bhriguvanshi finished a fast-break with a one-handed jam. A few minutes later, centre Amritpal Singh got the crowd going when heeffected a steal and ran the length of the court. After getting past the Bangladesh defenders, the Punjab player did a slam dunk.

Tamil Nadu hoopster Arvind Annadurai, too, shared the limelight, leaping high to convert an alley-oop from Bhriguvanshi. With victory guaranteed, the Indians decided to entertain the crowd at the Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium with a dazzling display.

Coach P.J. Sebastien expressed confidence that the side can do better than the quarterfinal finish at the Asian championship last year

“Our bench-strength is far better this year. We have many terrific players for each position. Also, we will try to use the height advantage we have through players like Amritpal Singh, Rikin Pethani and Arvind Annadurai. We will face tough teams like China and Iran, but we can hold our own,” he said.

The results:

India 95 (Vishesh Bhriguvanshi 16, Arvind Annadurai 15, Amritpal Singh 14) bt Bangladesh 35.

Nepal 62 (S. Ashim 15, S. Ayush 15, Sadish Pradhan 14) bt Maldives 54 (Abdul Latheef 10, Mohammed Zilaal 10).

Final standings: 1. India, 2. Maldives, 3. Nepal, and 4. Bangladesh.