New Delhi, 25th October, 2016: The Xinjiang Flying Tigers, Al-Riyadi Beirut and Petrochimi Bandar Imam took 1st, 2nd and 3rd places respectively to round off the 25th FIBA Asia Champions Cup that took place in the city of Chenzhou, in the Hunan Province in the People’s Republic of China, from the 8th to the 16th of October. The first edition of the Championship took place in Honk Kong in 1981.

Indian History at the Tournament

10 teams participated in this iteration of the tournament, although that number does vary from year to year. 1995 was the first year that an Indian team participated in the event, with the debut being made by the Punjab Police (they participated again in 2002). From 2003 to 2007, India was represented at the event by the Young Cagers. ONGC played the 2008 edition and in 2009, it was the Young Cagers again. The Young Cagers in this instance were members of the Junior Indian Basketball team and they were given a chance to play in order to gain exposure.

Wins came in 2004 and 2009, against Mediatrix Telecom (Philippines), and against Al-Wasl (UAE). The FIBA Asia Champions Cup features clubs that represent their nations.

The 30th Federation National Basketball Championship that took place in Goa in 2016 was the platform on which teams performed to qualify for the FIBA Asia Champions Cup. ONGC won the tournament and were selected to represent the South Asia Zone at the Championship.

India was not represented at the tournament in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

ONGC at the FIBA Asia Champions Cup 2016

ONGC’s 2016 squad featured three players from the Indian Squad who made real waves at the FIBA Asia Challenge 2016, which took place in Tehran, Iran. These three were Amritpal Singh, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi and Yadwinder Singh.

ONGC was sorted into Group A, and were to play a game against each of the other teams in Group A. Petrochimi (Iran), Al-Riyadi (Lebanon), Al-Rayyan (Qatar), Pauian (Chinese Taipei) were the teams that were sorted into Group A along with ONGC.

ONGC’s first game was on the 9th of October against Petrochimi, which they lost 95 to 51. Petrochimi outrebounded ONGC, 56 to 29.  Mehrad Atashi and Oshin Sahakian were key contributors for the Iranian side, with a combined 26 points. Amritpal and Bhriguvanshi contributed 27 points.

Amritpal Singh against Petrochimi

Their second game was against Al-Rayyan (Qatar). Preston Knowles was huge for the side, and was helped by three other players who managed to score in double figures. Despite Bhriguvanshi and Amritpal scoring 35 points, ONGC came up short.

Brighuvanshi drives against Al-Rayyan (Image Courtesy: FIBA Asia)

ONGC’s last two games, against Al-Riyadi and Pauian were concluded in a similar manner, finishing 65-91 and 71-101.

In all these games, while ONGC saw contributions from their most important players, they did not receive much from their other people, including their bench. Although Indian basketball has seen an uptick in recent years, with the FIBA Challenge campaign being a 27 year high, there is much to be desired when it comes to depth and bench production.

Anirudh Rangarajan
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