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10 Amritpal Singh - (IND)
19/05/2017
Asia
to read

India aiming for SABA Championship 5-peat

MALÈ, Maldives (SABA Championship 2017) - India have lorded over the SABA Championship since the tournament started in 2012, and they are aiming to continue their dominance this year.

India have won nearly every edition of the SABA Championship, and there is no doubt that they are, once again, heavy favorites to win the title at the tournament that will be held in Male, Maldives starting today until 23 May. If they meet expectations, India would be able to complete an historic 5-peat. Opposing their title charge are Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and hosts Maldives, who finished as the sub-zone's 2nd best team last year.

India head coach Baskar Sappaniambalam has assembled a squad centered on established stars who have been making waves outside the country, but he has also added fresh talents who herald a bright future for Indian hoops.

"India has had a solid record at the SABA Championship, and we aim to continue that trend," coach Sappaniambalam said. "It is the only tournament where we can provide an opportunity to our younger players and hence we have selected 3 players under the age of 22."

"Our main aim is to win and qualify for the FIBA Asia Cup taking place in Lebanon in August."Baskar SappaniambalamBaskar Sappaniambalam

Leading the team are modern day Indian basketball icons Vishesh Bhriguvanshi and Amritpal Singh together with seasoned veterans Akilan Pari, Yadwinder Singh and Rikin Pethani. Bhriguvanshi, Amritpal and Yadwinder are fresh from competing at the NBL Draft Combine in Melbourne, Australia. Joining them are a trio of the country's best young players: Muin Bek Hafeez, Vishal Kumar Gupta and Jeevanatham Pandi. Completing India's lineup are Prasanna Venkatesh, Arjun Singh, Ravi Bhardwaj and Anil Kumar.

"Our motto as a team is to win big and make sure that the juniors of our team get playing time," explained team captain Pari. "This championship is important for them to get good exposure and will be crucial in their development as players."

The SABA Championship 2017 will be played in a round robin format, and the team with the best record will advance to the FIBA Asia Cup 2017 in Beirut, Lebanon. India open their campaign today against the hosts and have a break tomorrow before facing Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal in succession.

If India are to make it to the FIBA Asia Cup 2017, they will join the first nine teams that have qualified, namely SEABA champions Philippines, Oceania teams Australia and New Zealand, Gulf representatives Qatar, WABA squads Iran, Jordan, Iraq, Syria and hosts Lebanon.

FIBA