• India finish 4th at the BRICS Games 2017, after losing to Russia and South Africa, concluding their exposure tournament in China.
  • The team was lacking in size in the absence of star centre Amritpal Singh, which resulted in them being outrebounded by heavyweights Russia and China.
  • Forwards Amjyot Singh Gill and Rikin Pethani performed consistently in the tournament, averaging 26 and 14.3 ppg respectively.
  • The team benefitted greatly from the practice afforded by this tournament before the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon, but will be nervously waiting on the fitness of captain Vishesh Bhriguvanshi and veteran small forward Yadwinder Singh.

Captain Vishesh Bhriguvanshi at the opening ceremony of the BRICS Games 2017. Image credits: Basketball Federation of India

Bengaluru, 22nd June 2017: India completed their participation at the BRICS Games after posting losses against Russia (19th June) and South Africa (20th June). The Games were held from 17th to 20th June in Guangzhou, China.

Against Russia, India continued to struggle in the paint in the absence of their starting big man Amritpal Singh, and were outrebounded 54 – 34. Amjyot Singh Gill top scored with 20 points.

The Indian team put up a much stronger fight against South Africa, in what was essentially a contest for third place, after each team had lost their previous games against China and Russia.

The Indian team began the game quick off the blocks, and held a 12 point lead at the end of the first quarter. South Africa clawed back quickly, and the game was tied 33-33 going into half time. The teams continued to trade baskets right until the end of the third quarter, with neither team able to break the deadlock. But South Africa put on the afterburners in the fourth quarter, outscoring India 31-18 and taking the last spot on the podium. Amjyot Singh Gill put in another strong performance with 32 points that included 4 treys from beyond the arc.

The Indian team benefitted greatly from the practice afforded by this tournament before the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon. India’s participation also provided excellent exposure to its younger players like Jeevanantham Pandi, Muin Bek, Arshpreet Bhullar and Ravi Bhardwaj, who gained valuable international on-court experience. Another key silver lining was the performances of Amjyot Singh Gill and Rikin Pethani, who averaged 26 and 14.3 ppg respectively. Gill performed consistently in the tournament, playing all but one minute of all three games in the tournament, and leading the scoring for the Indian team in each of those games.

On the flipside, India will be nervously waiting on the fitness of captain Vishesh Bhriguvanshi (who suffered an ACL injury in the first game of the tournament against China) and veteran small forward Yadwinder Singh (back injury). Both stars are being evaluated to determine their availability moving forward.

The hosts China finished the tournament as runners-up, as they were beaten by Russia 53-58 on the final day of the tournament.

20th June 2017: South Africa (Fumani Marhanele 21 pts; Thabo Sithole 18 pts) bt India (Amjyot Singh Gill 32 pts; Rikin Pethani 18 pts, 11 reb) 88 – 75 [21-9, 12-24, 24-24, 18-31]

19th June 2017: Russia (Ivlev Vladimir 17 pts; Zakharov Denis 14 pts) bt India (Amjyot Singh Gill 20 pts; Rikin Pethani 13pts, Jeevanantham Pandi 12 pts) 88 – 58 [22-26, 13-23, 14-20, 9-19]

About the BRICS Games 2017

The BRICS Games 2017 is a tournament played among the BRICS countries with a view to developing sports exchange and cooperation, and promoting mutual friendship among BRICS countries. The host country of BRICS summit organizes the annual BRICS games and as China is all set to host the summit in September this year, they are given the responsibility of organizing the games. The choices of the games differ each year and are selected in consultation with the member countries. The 2017 BRICS Games were held from 17-20 June 2017 in Guangzhou, China at the Tianhe Sports Gymnasium.

Nitesh Daryanani
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