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22/12/2016
Asia
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Bhriguvanshi proud of medal finish for India

NEW DELHI (FIBA Asia Cup 2017) - India did not end up winning the Super Kung Sheung Cup 2016 in Hong Kong earlier this week, but the South Asian side still made quite an impression by finishing among the tournament's top three teams for the first time.

India bested local club team Eastern Long Lions, 90-60, to secure their place on the podium. Not surprisingly, the steadily improving big man Amritpal Singh led the way for India with 24 points, while veteran wingman Vishesh Bhriguvanshi dropped 23. Amritpal's froontcourt partner, the returning Rikin Pethani, also gave a good account of himself with 16 points. Bhriguvanshi was also named the tournament’s Best Shooter.

Team India Captain @bhriguvanshi was awarded the Nike Best Shooter Award at the Hong Kong Invitational #IndiaBasketball 📸: @bhriguvanshi

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

"I feel so proud and happy because after so long we finally got a medal," Bhriguvanshi said. "We performed well, so this will be a morale booster for us."

This was a deep and tall Indian team that was helmed by Bhaskar Sappaniambalam. Aside from Bhriguvanshi, Pethani and Amritpal, other experienced players on the roster were Pratham Singh, Yadwinder Singh, Arvind Arumugam, Aravind Annadurai, Akilan Pari and Prasanna Venkatesh - all of whom have seen action in past FIBA Asia jousts. And despite not having frontline stalwarts like Amjyot Singh, Satnam Singh Bhamara and Palpreet Singh Brar, India were still able to turn a lot of heads with their balanced inside-outside attack.

The Indians topped their group in the first round of competition, beating Winling club of Hong Kong and the Thailand national team, which featured possible naturalized player Moses Morgan. That qualified India for the Semi-Finals, where they came up just short of beating eventual champions Southern California Fukienese Association of the USA, 93-89. It was a sorry loss for Vishesh and his teammates, but they chose to look at it as a learning experience.

"Yes, if we would have won that semi-final game then it would have been a bigger thing for us," Bhriguvanshi reflected. "I think we have to work more on our defense, especially our pressure defense, and we also have to work more on our fitness and shooting."

That was their only loss of the week-long event, and finishing with bronze medals has certainly given Bhriguvanshi, coach Bhaskar and the rest of the team a lot of confidence as they look forward to next year.

"I have a strong feeling that our team can win this tournament next year," Bhriguvanshi declared.

Of course, India are looking at even bigger things than the Super Kung Sheung Cup, given how 2017 will feature the FIBA Asia Cup and the New Competition System that includes the first window of the qualifying games for FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019.

"The Indian team is improving a lot these days," Bhriguvanshi muses. "If we continue with our hard work, we can improve even more and make India proud in 2017."

FIBA