Geethu Anna Rahul: "I want to be a role model for other youngsters."
John Wooden: “It isn't what you do, but how you do it.”
Vishesh Bhriguvanshi: “I never imagined I’ll be leading the national team.”
Pratham Singh: “My teammates are like my family.”

Indian basketball legend R Rajan previews India's semi final match against its toughest opponents yet - Lebanon

 

Going into the final stages of the tournament, I must congratulate BFI president K. Govindraj and Secretary-General Chander Mukhi Sharma for getting government recognition for basketball. I am sure this will further boost the development of the game in our country.

 

The verdict

Shireen Limaye against Fiji. Image credits: FIBA.com

Today’s quarterfinal witnessed a clinical performance from the Indian women. Fiji were stifling India with their physicality on defense early on. But after a few nervy moments, India started playing very well on transition. Anitha was back to her best, hitting crucial shots and dishing out the assists to set up her teammates. The highlight of the game was Kavita’s buzzer beater three to end the first half. 

As expected, most of Fiji’s points came from drives to the basket. They were reluctant to pull the trigger from outside, passing the ball around till they found an opening into the paint. But India was also good on defense, applying the full court press and intercepting in the passing lane often. Their effort forced Fiji into 23 turnovers, which were converted into 28 points.

After India opened up a lead, coach Zoran could give his bench a run again. He showed confidence in Poonam, putting her on the floor at the start of the first half. She played well in the post against Fiji’s strong players, and scored a few buckets.

Grima chipped in with 15 points, continuing a remarkable tournament for her, and was given an ovation by the fans as she checked out with a minute left in the game. It was heart warming to see the fans appreciate her contributions.

 

The preview

Today, India take on Lebanon in the semifinals, who are the toughest opponents they have played in the tournament so far.

Lebanon’s Rebecca Akl is a wily guard who can marshal her team well, and is also their top scorer with 13.3 ppg. The Indian team will need to be at their best defensively to disrupt their game.

In Chirine El Charif , Nancy Maalouf, and Narine Gyokchian, Lebanon have a trio of power forwards who have been productive on the offensive end. So far, India’s frontcourt has performed remarkably well, but they will need their bigs to step up against these taller Lebanese scorers.

In the last three games, India’s offense has come up trumps. If they can do the job defensively, we should see ourselves through to the finals on Saturday.

 

About R Rajan

R Rajan was a power forward who played for the Indian national team from 1982 to 1996, including six Asia Basketball Championships. Residing in Bengaluru, he is an integral part of the basketball fraternity in India, and works tirelessly to take the sport to new heights in the country.

 

India is hosting the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup from 23rd to 29th July 2017 in Bengaluru.

Book your tickets now at www.ticketgenie.in/fiba-tickets

India’s semifinal against Lebanon is on Friday, 28th July at 20:00 IST.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Indian national basketball teams comprise Senior, U19 (Junior), U16 (Youth) and U13 squads in both genders. Read more...

Events

FIBA Asia Cup 2017

08-20 August, Beirut, Lebanon

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