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 final game against Kazakhstan

 

 

Mr K Govindaraj (centre) felicitating Mr Yao Ming, as Mr Chander Mukhi Sharma and Mr Zeng Xiyuan (back to the camera) look on

What an eventful day of basketball action yesterday has been!

Besides exciting semifinal games, it was also an opportunity to acknowledge the presence of Chinese Basketball Association President and NBA Hall of Famer Yao Ming, who was felicitated by BFI President K Govindaraj.

 

The Verdict

India vs Lebanon. Image credits: FIBA.com

India had a lot to prove as it took on Lebanon in the last semifinals of the evening. Our girls have been syncing well together, but in a knockout game, only the performance on the given day matters.

Lebanon came out of the blocks very strong, led by guard Lama Moukadem. For India, the seasoned Anitha Paul Durai and versatile Shireen Limaye got on the scoreboards early. The back and forth encounter saw momentum shifts aplenty, but India was able to close out each of the quarters strong. Hearteningly, it was a total team effort by India, as multiple players stepped up on different occasions to take the pressure off each other.

Kavita Akula has had an average run so far, but showed her ability to contribute to the team’s scoring. Akula was able to knock down key three pointers that kept India within reach of Lebanon. Raspreet Sidhu was at her efficient best, while Jeena Skaria maintained the level of consistency that she has shown from the start of the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup. Jeena’s offensive and defensive rebounding was impressive, while in the latter tense stages, she reminded everybody about her fearless ability to take over in terms of scoring.

As a team, India also showed excellent mental strength and fortitude to come back into the game after trailing by 9 points in the third quarter.

 

The Preview

The final promises to be the toughest test yet as India faces Kazakhstan. I recall that the last time these two teams faced off back in 2013, India had registered a memorable first ever victory in Level 1 (now ‘Division A’). Both these sides are now in Division B and raring to return among Asia’s top sides.

Looking at its run so far in this Cup, Kazakhstan has won all its games by at least 8 points or more.

It is safe to say that India Head Coach Zoran Visic will continue to rotate his players with confidence, while using near 7ft centre Poonam Chaturvedi as an impact player off the bench.

 

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 final against Kazakhstan is on Saturday, 29th July at 17:45 IST.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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