Bengaluru, 23 Oct 2018: Indian girls are raring to go ahead of the Under-18 FIBA Asian Basketball Championship to be held at the Kanteerava Stadium from Oct 28 here.
In a span of just 15 months, between August 2015 and November 2016, all three Indian women’s teams got relegated to Division B. However, in 2017, India’s senior women and U16 girls teams got promoted back to Division A. Now the U18 team too is looking to follow suit.
Ranked 37th in the world, India’s junior women will be keen to secure their position among the top eight sides in Asia-Oceania.
On paper, the Indian roster looks fairly settled and ready, despite two injury withdrawals.
Three key players from the 2017 FIBA U16 Asian Women’s Championship, Pushpa Senthil Kumar, Ann Mary Zachariah (both centers) and Sreekala Rani (forward), have been named in the current U18 side. Unfortunately, the overall top scorer from the 2017 FIBA U16 Asian Women’s Championship, guard Vaishnavi Yadav, and center Sunaina Ramesh (who led all players in blocks per game), will be sidelined due to injuries.
With Yadav and Ramesh absent, it will come down to the consistent Pushpa who excelled in U16 games, to lead India’s charge.
In Group A of the preliminary round, Indian is pitted against Singapore, Guam and I.R. Iran, who will be making their debut at the U18 levels. If India manage to top the group, it will progress directly to the semifinals. However, a second or third place standing in the group will still give India the chance to make the semifinals. Meanwhile, in Group B Hong Kong (WR-43) and Kazakhstan (WR-44), are the highest ranked teams joined by Syria and Samoa .
Just like the 2017 FIBA Women’s Asia Cup and the 2017 FIBA U16 Asian Women’s Championship, this year’s U18 Championship too will be held in India, at the Kanteerava Indoor Stadium, Bengaluru.
Playing in familiar home conditions in front of their friends, family and local supporters could well prove to be the difference between the Indian women returning to Division A, or falling agonizingly short.