Top Indian Basketball Players Amritpal Singh, Joginder Singh Saharan and captain Vishesh Bhriguvanshi took to social media after the men’s team finally secured a spot in next year’s FIBA Asia Cup.

Sometimes victory brings relief more than joy.

This was on full display as the ‘Young Cagers’ punched their tickets to Jakarta, Indonesia.

self-made roadblocks

In recent years, Indian men’s international rankings has been on a steady decline (from 64 in Dec ’17 to 78 at present). This is thanks in large part to chronic mismanagement (which includes mass player bans and an inability to launch 5×5 Pro Basketball Leagues, despite an 11-year-old contract signed for the same in 2010) and FIBA’s new competition format making India’s road to Asia Cup qualification a lot harder.

Since 2020, lack of game-time exposure due to COVID has only compounded troubles for India’s basketball teams.

Between 2014-16 the Indian basketball community was celebrating historic wins over Angola, China and the Philippines. Talks of India finally regaining a place among the top 5 teams in Asia (not achieved since 1981) began doing the rounds, and rightly so.

But now, in August 2021, we are reduced to celebrating mere qualification to the Asia Cup.

Top Indian Basketball Players Exult

After Vishesh Bhriguvanshi’s incredible half-court heave against Iraq in the previous qualification round avoided India’s premature elimination, this time India had to overcome a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter against Palestine.

They say a cat has nine lives. Our ‘Young Cagers’ have already used up two.

No wonder then that the top Indian basketball players – Amritpal Singh, Joginder Singh & Vishesh Bhriguvanshi – expressed joy and redemption in equal measure after India belatedly punched its FIBA Asia Cup tickets. Not so coincidentally, these are the three same seniors who played key roles in India’s major triumphs in the middle of the last decade.

Here’s what they had to say:

(Loosely translated from Punjabi as “Travelers to big destinations, don’t keep small hearts”)

The Indian men’s team has now qualified for the Asia Cup for the tenth straight time since 2001. Let’s hope the Basketball Federation of India treats these latest close shaves as yet another wake-up call to finally get its act together and return India’s basketball programs to their long overdue upward trajectory.

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Gopalakrishnan R
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