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13 - 20
November 2016
29 Sushantika CHAKRAVORTTY (India); 5 Sheung Hok LAU (Hong Kong)
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Chakravortty hopes luck will be on India's side in U18 Championship for Women

NEW DELHI (FIBA Asia U18 Championship for Women 2016) - When India open their account at the FIBA Asia U18 Championship for Women 2016 in Bangkok, Thailand, one of the people to look out for is frontliner Sushantika Chakravortty.

The 16-year-old Chakravortty first saw action for India in the FIBA Asia U16 Championship for Women 2015. India didn't do so well in that competition, losing all six of their outings and getting bumped down to Level 2 after losing their qualification match against Hong Kong. Chakravortty, who stands 1.78m, learned quite a whole lot from that experience, and she hopes she can do much better this time around.

"Being my first international experience, it was really challenging," she said about her experience last year. "But it was the best kind of exposure especially playing against teams like China, Japan and Korea. We understood what we lacked and how to play against teams that are physically and mentally stronger than us."

The challenge for India will be similarly difficult in Bangkok, where, again, the East Asians will enter as overwhelming favorites to comprise the tournament’s top four teams. Chakravortty, for her part, is hoping to spearhead India as they hope to remain in Level 1.

"Our main focus is to maintain our position in level 1," she said. "And, at the same time, we are going to try to upset the traditional East Asian powerhouses."

That will be easier said than done, though, especially given how the last time a non-East-Asian team finished among the top four was in 1984. India, for example, have never made the podium at this level, and their best ever finish was 4th place in 1980. Should Chakravortty and her teammates manage to break the dry spell, that would be nothing short of historic for India. The 16-year-old is crossing her fingers that Lady Luck will smile on their squad.

"Luck should be on our side," she said "Beating one of East Asia’s top four teams will allow us to play the semi-finals, which will be something historic for us. The coaching staff has been working hard in preparing us for this tournament."

The pressure is certainly on for India in this competition, especially since the sport has seen great growth in popularity at home. That’s something not lost on Chakravortty, who is aiming at, one day, achieving a high level of success for India’s women in the same way guys like Amjyot Singh and Vishesh Bhriguvanshi have led India’s men to new heights.

Chill scenes in the Indian camp ahead of the #FIBAAsiaChallenge #IndiaBasketball

A photo posted by Basketball Federation of India (@india_basketball) on

"Basketball has become more popular due to the change in the coaching system at all levels," she explained. "After witnessing India’s success at the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship and the 2016 FIBA Asia Challenge, people are now realizing the potential of basketball in India and its benefits. Players like Amjyot Singh, Satnam Singh and Amritpal Singh who are playing professionally abroad raises the hopes of young aspirants today."