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Sunday, Sep 22, 2019

Commonwealth Games 2018: Indian basketball aims for giant leap in Gold Coast

Satnam Singh Bhamra, Amjyot Singh and Amritpal Singh will be key for the Indian basketball team as they look to excel at the Commonwealth Games 2018 in Gold Coast, Australia.

other-sports Updated: Mar 31, 2018 10:07 IST
B Shrikant
B Shrikant
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Amritpal Singh will be an asset for the Indian basketball team in the Commonwealth Games 2018.
Amritpal Singh will be an asset for the Indian basketball team in the Commonwealth Games 2018.(File Photo)

Basketball will be a part of the Commonwealth Games 2018 only for the second time at Gold Coast. The sport made its debut in 2006 Melbourne but was dropped thereafter. With the Games back in Australia, the Organising Committee has put it back on the roster and eight teams each in men’s and women’s section will vie for the top honours.

The teams have been divided into two groups of four each with the higher-ranked teams in Pool A.

The top two teams in Pool A, after preliminary matches played in a round-robin format, will qualify for the semi-finals while the teams placed third and fourth in Pool A will play knockout qualifying matches (qualifying finals) against the top two teams from Pool B to decide the remaining two semi-finalists.

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In 2006 Melbourne, the women finished third in Pool B.

They beat Malta in the classification round and lost to Mozambique 44-70 to finish sixth among eighth team. The men’s team lost all its matches.

Despite the dismal show in 2006, much is expected from the cagers in Gold Coast as they have improved a lot under foreign coaches. The men’s team, ranked 62nd in the world, is in Pool B along with England (40), Cameroon (65) and Scotland. Pool A comprises Australia, ranked 12th, Canada (23), Nigeria (38) and New Zealand (38).

Solid men’s squad

The Basketball Federation of India has picked a solid men’s squad with ex-NBA player Satnam Singh Bhamra leading the charge along with Amjyot Singh and Amritpal Singh, who plays for Sydney Kings in the Australian National Basketball League.

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Though Palpreet Singh, the first Indian to be drafted into NBA G-League, has been left out, Satnam, Amjyot and Amritpal have the experience of playing in foreign leagues and should give the team a big boost.

In the women’s section, India are ranked 45th and should improve on their sixth-place finish in Melbourne. They are in Pool B along with New Zealand (42), Jamaica (37) and Malaysia (48). India should be able to beat Malaysia and a good result against Jamaica or New Zealand could put them in contention for a spot in the playoffs for the semis.

The team’s build-up was marred by visa problems with some players and coaches reaching Australia late for the planned three-week preparation. Now that the issue is resolved, the teams would like to put the disappointment behind and try to make a mark.

First Published: Mar 31, 2018 08:38 IST