• Winning team from these South Asian Basketball Association (SABA) Qualifiers is through to the FIBA Asia Challenge 2016 to be held in Iran later this September.
  • Among participating SABA teams, India are defending champions and favourites. Nepal, Bangladesh and Maldives are the other teams in the fray.
  • The qualifying round will be played in a round robin league format.
  • Indian side will see the return of Punjab players Amritpal Singh (centre) and Talwinderjit Singh (point guard), apart from other familiar and fresh faces.
  • India’s first match will be against Nepal on July 6th
  • This is the 5thedition of SABA, but the first to be held as a preliminary qualifier to FIBA’s maiden Continental Cup in 2017 (called FIBA Asia Cup) that will feature teams from both Asia & Oceania regions.
  • The SABA qualifiers is returning to Kanteerava Indoor Stadium, Bengaluru for the 2ndstraight year. The last edition (i.e. 4th SABA Championship) saw India being crowned champs for the 3rd time.

Bengaluru, 6th July, 2016: The South Asian Basketball Association (SABA) Zone Qualifying Round of the FIBA Asia Challenge 2016 tipped off earlier this evening at the Kanteerava Indoor Stadium in the city, with convincing wins by Maldives and India.

During the day, it was also announced that a special press conference will be held at 3pm on 7th July at the Karnataka Olympic Association Conference Room within the same stadium complex.

Maldives beat Bangladesh

In the first match of the day, an inspired Maldives showed great energy and hustle to outgun a taller Bangladesh squad. What the tiny island nation players lacked in height, they more than made up for with their pressing defence that had their slower opponents in a ton of trouble. After trailing 12-14 at the end of the first quarter, Bangladesh led 26-23 at halftime and appeared to have gained some measure of control over their opponents. However, the third quarter proved to be decisive as the floodgates opened for Maldives, which went on a scoring spree 21-9, connecting repeatedly from mid-range and beyond the arc, to take a critical 44-35 lead at the end of the third period. Maldives’ Serbian Coach Marco Piplovic did an excellent job of ensuring that fresh legs stayed on the floor, constantly rotating multiple players at a time. Midway through the fourth, once Maldives had succeeded in converting Bangladesh into a jumpshooting team, thus negating their size advantage, the game was well and truly in the bag.

Maldives players (in red) stifle their Bangladesh opponents

Maldives players (in red) stifle their Bangladesh opponents

Bangladesh vs Maldives Box Score SABA 2016
India beat Nepal

The result was never in doubt, but overwhelming favourites India left some room open for criticism, with an inconsistent showing in its opening win over Nepal.

The first quarter began flawlessly for India, with a midrange jumper by veteran guard Vishesh Bhriguvanshi swishing through the net without even touching the ring. That was soon followed by arguably the play of the day, when 6ft 9 inch centre Amritpal Singh ran the floor and elevated a few feet inside the freethrow line for a powerful one-handed dunk. Nepal point guard Sadish Pradhan, well under 6ft tall was brave in his attempt to draw the charge, but was sent flying across the floor, after drawing contact within the restricted area.

India had 17 unanswered points to open proceedings, before Nepal finally answered with a two pointer. India’s starting five of guards Akilan Pari, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, forwards Yadwinder Singh and Rikin Pethani, and centre/captain Amritpal Singh were substituted en masse at the start of the second quarter, and that’s when India’s problems started.

After being pummelled 4-23 in Q1, Nepal outscored India 21-17 in Q2, with guards Sadish and Sonam able to penetrate past the Indian defence and in the process create some space for their frontcourt teammates. Forward Ashim Shrestha showed his class with multiple baby-hooks against his taller opponents, before India took over again in the third quarter with a 21-8 performance. Stepping up for the hosts in the second half was explosive point guard TJ Sahi, with a momentous buzzer beater to take India to a commanding 61-33 lead to go into the final quarter.

A never-back-down Nepal side matched India shot for shot in the final 10 minutes, aided in large part by sloppy play and poor boxing out by backup forwards Aravind Annadurai and debutant Ravi Bhardwaj. Fellow newcomer Arshpreet Bhullar though showed no signs of nerves, and his 10 point performance was perhaps one of the bright spots in India’s win today, with India’s 9 made three-pointers coming a close second.

Team India after the win over Nepal

Team India after the win over Nepal

India vs Nepal Box Score SABA 2016
Results (6/07/2016)
  1. Maldives (Ahmed Afsan Rashad 14, Ahmed Zabeer 14) bt Bangladesh (Md Ataur Rahman 10) 68-50 [14-12, 9-14, 21-9, 24-15]
  2. India (Vishesh Bhriguvanshi 11, Amritpal Singh 10, Arshpreet Bhullar 10) bt Nepal (Sadish Pradhan 13, Sonam Lama 12, Ashim Shrestha 12) 81-53 [23-4, 17-21, 21-8, 20-20]
About the SABA Qualifiers 2016
Upcoming Fixtures (Subject to Change)
July 07

· Nepal vs Bangladesh 05.00 PM

· Maldives vs India 06.30 PM

July 08

· Maldives vs Nepal 04.30 PM

· India vs Bangladesh 06.00 PM

Tournament Format

The tournament is played on a round robin format and the team with the best record at the end of this championship will progress from the South Asian region to the FIBA Asia Challenge scheduled for 9th to 18th September in Tehran, Iran. A round robin tournament is when each team will face every other team in the tournament once, and the final standings will be based on win/loss statistics. SABA serves as a sub-zone qualifier for the FIBA Asia Challenge.

Previous Editions / Winners

2012: Assam: 1st India, 2nd Bangladesh
2013: Dhaka: 1st Bangladesh 2nd Pakistan (India, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka did not participate)
2014: Kathmandu: 1st India 2nd Bangladesh
2015: Bengaluru: 1st India, 2nd Sri Lanka

Qualification for 2017 FIBA Asia Cup

The 2016 FIBA Asia Challenge is the second step in the qualification process for the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup, which will be the first continental cup that will see participants from both Asia and Oceania. The FIBA Asia Cup (starting in 2017) was previously known as the FIBA Asia Championship and the FIBA Asia Challenge (starting in 2016) was previously known as the FIBA Stankovic / Asia Cup. These changes were decided on at the second meeting of the 2014-19 FIBA Asia Central Board which took place in New Delhi on 30th-31st January 2016.’

 Indian Squad for the SABA Qualifying Round 2016 

Family Name/
Last Name
Given Name/
First Name
Place of Birth
(City & State)
Employer Date of Birth (dd/mm/yy) Height
(ft & inches)


4 Bhullar Arshpreet Singh Jalandhar Punjab 02/10/1996 190 (6’ 2’’) 86 G/F
8 Singh Arjun Varanasi Uttar Pradesh


ONGC 08/06/1992 189 (6’ 2’’) 70 SG
9 Bhriguvanshi Vishesh Varanasi Uttar Pradesh


ONGC 13/09/1991 195 (6’ 3’’) 95 G/F
10 Amritpal Singh Ganna Pind Punjab


ONGC 05/01/1991 207 (6’ 9’’) 110 C
12 Philip Basil Sulthanbathery Kerala Cental Customs & Excise


10/01/1991 184 (6’) 76 G/F
14 Yadwinder Singh Rasulpur Khurd Punjab




30/12/1986 198 (6’ 4’’) 95 F
15 Pethani Rikin Sajiavadar Amreli Gujarat


Income Tax 02/12/1990 203 (6’ 6””) 104 C
23 Annadurai Aravind Tanjore Tamil Nadu Indian Overseas Bank


05/07/1993 200 (6’ 5””) 95 C
25 Arumugam Arvind Mandya Karnataka


Vijaya Bank 28/01/1991 197 (6’ 4””) 94 PF
44 Bhardwaj Ravi Chandigarh Chandigarh


31/10/1992 207 (6’ 7””) 100 F/C
66 Pari Akilan Chennai Tamil Nadu Income Tax


20/07/1989 180 (5’ 9’’) 70 PG
77 Talwinderjit Singh Patiala Punjab


20/10/1986 182 (5’ 9’’) 80 PG


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

13) Coaches: Sebastian Padipurakkal Joseph (Head Coach) and CV Sunny (Assistant Coach)

About Basketball Federation of India

The Basketball Federation of India or BFI is the governing and controlling body of basketball in India, and is responsible for the development and promotion of the sport at all levels. BFI has been involved in conducting camps, clinics, events, and training sessions at its academies for the development of basketball. BFI came into being in 1935 and took complete control over Indian basketball in 1950. Prior to that time, the Indian Olympic Association handled the conduct of Indian basketball championships. Since 1950, the BFI has been conducting various such championships, from the grassroots to senior team participation in international tournaments. In addition, the BFI has been responsible for the establishment of strong sub-junior and junior level programs. The BFI has to its credit produced several international players of repute, among them 17 have been bestowed with the honour of Arjuna Awards. Earlier in June 2015, 19-year-old Satnam Singh Bhamara made history by becoming the first Indian national to be drafted by an NBA team, when he was selected by the Dallas Mavericks. More information at

Team Ekalavyas
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