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Jeena PS out to provide the offensive firepower for the hosts
BENGALURU (FIBA Women’s Asia Cup 2017) - If India are to realize their dream as hosts of the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup 2017, it is likely to be one driven by the offensive punch provided by Jeena Palanilkumkalayil Skaria.
The locals in Bengalaru will be hoping she can shine as usual in her beloved India jersey – having corralled a double-digit scoring return in each of the first two editions of the event. We caught up with the popular player, who is widely known by her shorter moniker of Jeena PS.
This will be your 3rd FIBA Women’s Asia Cup. How much do you think you’ve evolved and improved since the first?
I think the biggest improvement is in my shooting, as I’ve been slowly adding to my range over the past few years. Francisco Garcia (the previous women’s national team coach) emphasized that I would be required to shoot as a ‘4’ at the international level, so I made that a point of focus. The next step, which I’ve already started working on, is being able to penetrate from the outside to set up myself and my teammates.
Do you think India can earn promotion to Division A and will the home court help you?
This is our prime aim; to regain a place among the best in Asia. We lost our spot in 2015, after winning our first ever Level 1 match during 2013. We need to get back to Division A and continue our steady progress over time. We have a combination of experienced and young players in our squad, and the home court advantage is also there. Obviously, home court advantage is a factor that can have a positive impact and create a great boost of morale for the team.
How much has basketball in India developed over the past five years?
Over the past five years, there’s been tremendous growth. The men have continually improved over the time, and the women’s program is showing excellent talent at the youth levels. One thing that is noticeable, is that there are more and more players at the younger age categories who are interested in taking the game seriously. That is important for basketball to pick up.
Which teams are the strongest in Division B and what are your thoughts on the arrival of the Oceania teams?
Sri Lanka, and Uzbekistan are grouped with India in the B Division, so our strongest opponent is likely to be Uzbekistan during the first round. Once we get to the knockout round, the competition will definitely pick up as we will likely have to play both Lebanon and Kazakhstan to win Division B.
Meanwhile, in Division A, Australia and New Zealand are among the best teams in the world, so their participation adds a new level to this competition and more enjoyment for fans in the Asia and Oceania regions.