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Playing for India at Asia Cup always a matter of pride for Vishesh Bhriguvanshi
NEW DELHI (India) – 10 years ago, India’s Vishesh Bhriguvanshi made his FIBA Asia Cup debut and is now aiming for a 6th straight appearance in 2021. To get there, they will have to go through the Qualifiers facing the other teams in Group D; Bahrain, Lebanon, and Iraq.
For a player that has seen the improvement of each team across the Asian region, Bhriguvanshi knows well of the challenges ahead for India.
“I believe all the teams in the group are great,” Bhriguvanshi admits. “It would be really challenging for us to win over these teams.”
One team that Bhriguvanshi is familiar with, especially in the Asia Cup setting is Bahrain. The two crossed paths a few years back where Bhriguvanshi averaged 15.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 4.0 assists in the couple of games they played against each other.
“According to my past experience with Bahrain, we played against them in [Asia Cup 2013] where we won one and lost one. Therefore, I am definitely looking forward to this game,” recalled Bhriguvanshi, tracing back to India’s 82-80 loss and 75-65 win against Bahrain that year.
In fact, the 1.92M (6’4”) scoring expert is not only looking forward to play against Bahrain. At this rate, he will just be looking forward to get back on the court and compete, regardless of the opposition.
An injury has slowed Vishesh down as of recent, causing him to play only one game at the 2017 Asia Cup while missing out the entire World Cup Qualifiers. But he is determined to come back and proudly don the national team jersey once again.
“[I don’t need to] mention that it has always been a matter of pride for me to represent my nation especially in a prestigious championship like the FIBA Asia Cup,” Bhriguvanshi said with pride. “Another year, another opportunity, and another level of excitement is what keeps me motivated. Simply looking forward to make the most of these forthcoming opportunities.”
Among all of the teams, the Indian scoring guard has zeroed in on Lebanon as the team to beat in the group. Surprisingly enough, Bhriguvanshi has played against Lebanon only once in all of his 5 Asia Cup runs which was a slight 71-68 loss back in 2011. He was also unfortunate to not be on the team when these two countries clashed at the Asia Cup Qualifiers.
Nonetheless, Bhriguvsnshi knows how good they will be.
“Lebanon is undoubtedly one of the best team by far,” Bhriguvanshi said. “In order to have a good game against Lebanon, we will definitely have to put our best foot forward.”
For India to put their best foot forward, they will need the best players they can get. There is no doubt that Bhriguvanshi should be among one of the best considered for battle. Ever since making his Asia Cup debut in 2009 as a 17-year-old, Vishesh has been a constant threat to average at least 13 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists per game in each tournament. With the other talents already in the squad like Satnam Singh, getting a seasoned presence back on the team should be crucial for their Asia Cup Qualifiers run. He could very well be a key piece, especially against an up-and-coming team that India will be facing in Iraq.
“Iraq are unpredictable these days,” Bhriguvanshi says. “They have recently won over Iran in the World Cup Qualifiers. All of these things have motivated us to work harder to be able to come up with the best result.”
The ‘best result’ for Bhriguvanshi might come at a high standard. After all, he has been playing with the national team at such a young age, having experienced some of the highest of highs the program has seen.
“[Some of my memorable experiences are] when we defeated China for the first time in the [Asia Challenge 2014] and when we played in the quarterfinals of the 2015 Asia Cup.”
There is a long road up ahead for Bhriguvanshi and the India national team leading towards qualifying to the FIBA Asia Cup in 2021. It won’t be easy to get there but for someone who has been there five times already, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi guarantees that it’ll be worth it.