Women's team without coach ahead of FIBA Asia Cup

India will host the first-ever FIBA Women’s Asia Cup in Bengaluru in a little over five months but our basketball players are virtually dancing in the dark.

P.S Jeena said that the team needs atleast a two-three month camp to perform well in the tournament.   -  S.S Kumar

India will host the first-ever FIBA Women’s Asia Cup in Bengaluru in a little over five months but our basketball players are virtually dancing in the dark.

The new FIBA Asia event, which includes Australia and New Zealand for the first time, begins in Bengaluru on July 23 but the Indian players don’t even know who their coach will be.

“They have not told us anything, we have no information at all,” P.S. Jeena, India’s top scorer at the last Asian championship at Wuhan in 2015, told Sportstar on Sunday.

“Spaniard Francisco Garcia was the coach for the last two Asian championships and for the 2014 Incheon Asian Games. He left after the 2015 Asian meet. We did not have a camp or an international event after that.”

CRUCIAL CHAMPIONSHIP

The Bengaluru Asian championship will be a crucial one, for India had fallen from the elite group to the second division at the last Asian meet in Wuhan. And a strong preparation is needed to ensure that India makes the most of the home advantage and climbs back to the elite group in the new Asia Cup where India will be playing in the second division.

“I just want to ensure that we get back to the main division. I really want to do that,” said forward Jeena, currently the country’s most valuable player.

“And for that, we should not be conducting a camp in the last week or in the last month before the championship. Only if we have at least a two to three months camp, can we qualify for the main division.”

ALREADY LATE

With other countries, including Japan which has hired American coach Tom Hovasse – the first-ever non-Japanese coach for the women’s squad – starting its preparations in earnest, host India needs to be up and running fast.

“If we compare with other countries, we are already late in our preparations. For the last Asian at Wuhan, we just had a one-month camp and no exposure trips. That was one of the reasons why we went to the lower division,” said the 23-year-old KSEB player.

“If we have to go to the higher pool, we must have a good coach and have a long-term camp.”

India last qualified for the Asian championship’s elite division in 2013 and Jeena said some solid planning went into that.

“Before the 2013 Asians, we had a two-month camp under coach Francisco Garcia and we also had a week’s exposure trip to China where we played some three or four good matches. That helped us to finish fifth and go to the main division,” said Jeena.

“We also had Geethu Anna Jose in the team and you know the sort of confidence her presence brings.”

WITHOUT CENTRE STEPHY

India will be without its star centre Stephy Nixon, now married and in the family way, for the championship in Bengaluru.

“Still, we have the players but they are all with different teams, so if we have a solid camp, it will help us mingle well and play a good team game.”

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