CWG basketball: Hoping for a better show

The 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games marks the second coming of basketball to the multi-sport extravaganza.

“The girls are playing very well. I’m an eternal optimist. If we beat Jamaica and Malaysia, we are almost through to the CWG semifinals. They are all good teams for sure, but there is always a chance.” - Indian women’s coach Zoran Visic.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Basketball is a fairly new entrant to the Commonwealth Games (CWG) programme. The sport made its debut in the 2006 Melbourne Games, before dropping off the calendar for the next two editions.

The 2018 Gold Coast CWG marks the second coming of basketball to the multi-sport extravaganza. The Indian men’s and women’s teams arrived in Australia a good three weeks ahead of the start of the competition, to accommodate a host of friendly games to gain match fitness.

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Both squads will want to better their performances in the 2006 CWG. The men’s team — slotted with Australia, Nigeria and Scotland in Group ‘A’ — lost all three of its outings in 2006. Defeats to Barbados and Scotland saw the team finish with the wooden spoon, in eighth-spot. The women’s team managed two victories in its campaign — against Malta and Mozambique — but like the men, finished in last place.

This time around, the men and women feature in the lower Pool ‘B’, and will have to fight for the chance to enter the medal rounds, with the top nations. The best two teams from Pool ‘B’ will battle the bottom two sides from the higher Pool ‘A’ for two semifinal berths. The men’s team with stars such as Amritpal Singh and Amjyot Singh, will take on England, Cameroon and Scotland in the group stage. While European powerhouse England and Cameroon (fifth in AfroBasket championship 2017) could be too high a mountain to climb, India is in with a fighting chance against Scotland. However, a lone victory in the group stage will most likely not be enough for India to advance from the group stage. For the women, the superior New Zealand poses an impregnable challenge. The women have a reasonable chance of notching up victories against the other two sides — Jamaica and Malaysia. The team will miss the services of veteran Anitha Paul Durai, who has been gradually moving to a coaching role in the past year. Maharashtra forward Shireen Limaye and the Kerala pair of Jeena Scaria and Grima Merlin Varghese will have to be at their best for India to get past the group stage.

India at 2006 CWG
  • Men: Finished last (eighth)
  • Group stage: lost 84-113 to Nigeria; lost 57-67 to Scotland; lost 49-133 to Australia. 5-8 placings: lost 55-96 to Barbados. 7th-spot placing: lost 59-65 to Scotland.
  • Women: Finished last (eighth)
  • Group stage: lost 46-146 to Australia; lost 57-104 to England; bt Mozambique 58-54. 5th-spot placing: lost 40-70 to Mozambique. 7th-spot placing: lost 47-80 to Malta.