BENGALURU/CHANGSHA, 28 September 2015: Battling a slow start and an off-night for one of its stars, the Indian senior men’s basketball team fought back, relying on role players, to hold off a pesky Hong Kong team, 76-71.  With this win, and following Palestine’s loss to Japan, the South Asian giants are just a step away from progressing to the quarterfinals of the 28th FIBA Asia Championship for Men underway in Changsha, China, after a gap of 12 years.

At the end of today’s games, in Group E, Japan, India and Palestine all have identical (3-2) records and are placed at 3rd, 4th and 5th positions respectively. The top four teams from the Groups E and F qualify for the knockouts, and India’s hopes for progressing look bright as Palestine has to upset reigning Asian Champions Iran, in order to displace India from the 4th spot. India too has a tough battle ahead against Philippines, but even in the eventuality that both Palestine and India remain locked at 3-3 after their final second round matches tomorrow, India is expected to progress to the quarterfinals based on its earlier head to head win over the Palestinians.

Comeback win over Hong Kong

India centre Amritpal Singh fights for the loose ball against Hong Kong. Image Credit: FIBA Asia.

India centre Amritpal Singh fights for the loose ball against Hong Kong. Image Credit: FIBA Asia.

Entering this match, India was coming off a strong performance against Palestine, while Hong Kong had been handed a 55-point drubbing by powerhouse Iran. Stars Amjyot Singh (26 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks) and Vishesh Bhriguvanshi kept India in the hunt throughout the first half which saw Hong Kong hit a number of long jump shots to take an early 39-34 lead.

India was a little slow, perhaps due to having to deal with a “trap game” in the emotional victory over Palestine. As a result, the side was unable to hit consistently from deep for three quarters.  Veteran Yadwinder Singh, an unlikely outside threat, was India’s only reliable shooter connecting 3 out of 7 times from behind the arc. He had 18 points and 6 rebounds off the bench.  His shooting forced the defense to adjust in the second half and Amritpal Singh was able to come alive, finishing with 8 points and 15 rebounds.

India was able to survive a poor shooting game, which started at 7 am IST, by winning the rebounding battle 47-41, including 6 more than Hong Kong on the offensive end – 17 to 11. The side also got 8 steals and 4 blocks that led to 10 fast break points to their opponents 4.

Veterans and Role Players Come Through in the Clutch

Forward Yadwinder Singh stepped up offensively in India's win over Hong Kong. Image credit: FIBA Asia.

Forward Yadwinder Singh stepped up offensively in India’s win over Hong Kong. Image credit: FIBA Asia.

With the Hong Kong defence focusing on limiting the interior play of Amritpal Singh and Amjyot Singh, it was up to the perimeter players to carry the load in the fourth quarter.  After missing his first 10 shots in the game point guard Akilan Pari came up huge in the last few minutes with 2 deep two pointers and a couple of free throws to keep Hong Kong out of striking distance.  Vishesh Bhriguvanshi had his usual all around stellar game, with 16 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds, and 4 steals, two of which came in the fourth quarter and led directly to two go-ahead baskets.

After the underutilized bench of India has had minimal success throughout the tournament, India’s most experienced player, Yadwinder Singh, made the most of his 35 minutes on the court, by hitting timely 3’s, the most important coming with 3:16 left in the game to close the gap to 1 point.  Captain Vishesh then had one of his two big steals to give India the lead for good.

Speaking about the game Yadwinder said, “Although we were trailing at the beginning, we were fully confident that we would win.” On his own offensive performance he said, “My focus has always been on defense but I found that our scoring was stuck, so I stepped up my aggression and it paid off.” The down to earth Yadwinder was quick to deflect praise from himself on to his teammates. “All the players like Amjyot (Singh), Amritpal (Singh), Vishesh (Bhriguvanshi) and Akilan (Pari) executed on offense, and not just me.”

Forward Amjyot Singh led India's attack yet again in the winning performance against Hong Kong. Image Credit: FIBA Asia.

Forward Amjyot Singh led India’s attack yet again in the winning performance against Hong Kong. Image Credit: FIBA Asia.

In their final second round match tomorrow, India plays Philippines, one of the top Asian sides, at 12:00 pm IST.

India (Amjyot Singh 26 pts, 12 rbs, 4 assts, & 3 blks, Yadwinder Singh 18 pts, 6 rbs, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi 16 pts, 3 rbs, 4 stls, & 6 asts, Amritpal Singh 8 pts & 15 rbs) beat Hong Kong (C Wong, 21 pts & 10 rbs, S. Chan 17 pts & 4 rbs) 76-71 (14-19, 20-20, 19-17, 23-15)

India’s upcoming matches at the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship*

29th September 2015 (Final Match of 2nd Round) vs. Philippines at 12:00 pm IST (2:30 local time)

Knockouts: Quarterfinals, semis and finals will be played on 1st, 2nd and 3rd October respectively.

*Scroll down below for tournament groupings, format, history, and India’s past participation.

How to follow the games

The Championship is being held at two venues in Changsha, China. The primary venue is the Gymnasium of Changsha Social Work College, while the secondary venue is the Gymnasium of Central South University of Forestry and Technology.

Matches are being aired on NEO SPORTS. Live streaming of the game is also available on a paid subscription basis here: http://www.livebasketball.tv/home. Live play by play updates are also available on FIBA’s official website: http://www.fiba.com/asia/2015.

INDIAN SQUAD FOR THE 28TH FIBA ASIA MEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP 2015

Jersey
No
Name Date of Birth
(dd/mm/yyyy)
Place of Birth
(City & State)
Height
(cm)
Weight

(Kg)

Position
03 Vinay Kaushik 30/08/1991 Lakhan Majra Haryana 189 88 F
04 Rajesh Prakash Uppar 20/01/1991 Dharwad Karnataka 172 67 PG
07 Siddhant Sanjay Shinde 15/06/1991 Pune Maharashtra 180 75 G
09 Vishesh Bhriguvanshi 13/09/1991 Varanasi Uttar Pradesh 193 95 G/F
10 Amritpal Singh 05/01/1991 Ganna Pind Punjab 207 110 C
13 Vikas Kumar 13/11/1988 Dablain Haryana 183 80 F
14 Yadwinder Singh 30/12/1986 Rasulpur Khurd Haryana 196 90 F
15 Arvind Arumugam 28/01/1991 Mandya Karnataka 197 94 PF
22 Amjyot Singh 27/01/1992 Chandigarh Punjab/ Haryana 203 104 F
66 Akilan Pari 20/07/1989 Chennai Tamil Nadu 180 70 PG
69 Akashdeep Hazra 01/07/1996 Baroda Gujarat 213 98 C
96 Gurvinder Singh Gill 21/01/1996 Chandigarh Punjab/ Haryana 200 90 PF

 *PG – Point Guard / Feeder, G – Guard, F – Forward, G/F – Wing, PF – Power Forward, C – Centre, PF/C – Pivot

 13) Team Manager:  Mr Goutam Ganguly (West Bengal)

14) Head Coach: Mr Sat Prakash (Rajasthan)

15) Assistant Coach: Mr Sebastian Padipurakkal Joseph (Kerala)

16) Team Physio: Dr Nikhil Nellikka Puthiyandi (Karnataka)

Referees:

17) Mr Atanu Banerjee (West Bengal)

18) Mr Ceceline Michael Vino (Tamil Nadu)

19) Snehal Bendke (Maharashtra)

About the 28th FIBA Asia Men’s Championship 2015

Preliminary Round Groups

Group A: Iran, India, Malaysia and Japan

Group B: Hong Kong, Palestine, Philippines and Kuwait

Group C: China, Korea, Jordan and Singapore

Group D: Chinese Taipei, Lebanon, Qatar and Kazakhstan

Tournament Format

This will be the 28th edition of the Asian Men’s Basketball Championship. 16 teams are expected participate in this championship and are divided into four groups (A, B, C and D) of four teams each. League matches are conducted within each group and the top three teams from each group proceed to the second round. The second round will comprise 12 teams in total split into two groups (E and F) of six teams each. The three top teams from groups A and B after the first round will be placed in Group E in the second round, while groups C and D’s top three teams will be placed in Group F.

In the second round, the top four teams each from Group C and D progress to the quarterfinals, followed by the semi-finals and finals. The 2015 FIBA Asia Championship is a qualifier for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The winner qualifies automatically for 2016 Men’s Olympic Basketball Tournament. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th place teams earn spots for 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT).

Tournament history & India’s participation

Prior to the upcoming iteration, 27 editions of this biennial championship have been held so far, dating back to 1960. Philippines won the inaugural edition. China leads the medal’s tally with 15 golds, followed by Philippines (5 golds) and Iran (3 golds) India first participated at this event in 1965, and has competed 24 times in total. The Indian men’s team best finish came in 1975, when we finished 4th. India has also secured 5th place at the 1969, 1979 and 1981 iterations.

At the last edition in 2013, Iran, Philippines and Korea were the top three sides, while India finished 11th.

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