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India's Satnam Singh: ''We are a different team now''
BENGALURU (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers) -High hopes initially, followed by a lull and again signs of a gradual resurgence. Satnam Singh’s basketball journey has been reflective of the fortunes of the Indian national team.
When the 7ft 2in (2.18 m) behemoth was drafted by NBA team Dallas Mavericks in 2015, there were huge expectations riding on his extraordinary frame.
A year later, India had posted its first ever victory over Asian behemoth China.
Fast forward to 2018, and Singh’s NBA sojourn has been woefully cut short. Barely getting any playing time with Mavericks's minor league affiliate Texas Legends, Singh returned to India. The ‘Young Cagers’ too seemed to have taken a few steps back over the last twelve months, slipping to 0-4 in the ongoing Asian Qualifiers of the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
Now both Singh and India are looking for a gradual resurgence.
The squad is in the midst of their final training camp in Bengaluru.
“Our morale is good,” Singh told FIBA.com ahead of the final window games of the first round. India is in Group C, with Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
“I have been working on all aspects of my game, whether shooting, finishing in the post or simply getting up and down the floor.”
In the absence of India’s 'Big Three' of Amjyot Singh, Amritpal Singh and Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, Singh has been carrying the load. In 30.5 minutes per game, the centre is averaging 13.8 points and 7.3 rebounds.
“There is no added pressure on me. I play my own game with a cool mind. I am very happy to be getting playing time. It is a chance for me to improve. Coach [Rajinder Singh] has given me a free rein,” Singh said.
India faces Syria on 28 June at the Nouhad Nawfal Sports Complex in Lebanon, followed by Jordan on 1 July in Amman.
The last time India matched up with these sides, it endured humbling blowout losses, both at home.
“Our backs are against the wall. But we will play hard, that’s for sure. We are a different team now.”
Big words coming from the 22-year-old big man.
Fans back in India will be hoping for a turnaround from both him and his team.