17 February, 2020
28 August, 2021
9 Vishesh Bhriguvanshi (IND), 15 Jagdeep Singh . (IND)
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Vishesh Bhriguvanshi: The shot of blessings and extending hope

MANAMA (Bahrain) - The stakes were high and the pressure was even higher entering the final two minutes of the game between India and Iraq. A win by either team would extend the hopes of Asia Cup 2021 qualification for the victors. A loss meant having their backs pushed the wall for the defeated.

India saw their 8-point lead narrow down to only 1 with 1:40 left in the game as coach Veselin Matic called a timeout and the tension in the air could cut through steel.

"When the timeout was called, we were tense but I really had confidence that we would definitely win this game," said eventual hero Visheh Bhriguvanshi. "My mind was going through only one thing that somehow we had to win and we couldn't afford this loss now. The only hope was this match."

"I can tell you that maybe because of [my mother], I made that shot."


India came into the game with a 1-3 record in Group D of the Asia Cup Qualifiers. With Lebanon and Bahrain already clinching the direct qualification spots to Asia Cup 2021, the only way to qualify was now by claiming the third-place spot in the group.

It was going to be between India and Iraq (0-4) and the India's lead was the slimmest as it could get at 76-75.

A minute (and change) later, the situation looked bleak. Iraq's Kavin Galloway - who had already scored 24 points - had the ball with less than 10 seconds to go with the score tied at 78-78. He drove, he spun… and he lost the ball.

India's Amjyot Singh collected the fumble and dropped the ball off to a streaking Bhriguvanshi.

2.5 seconds to go.

One dribble and a one-two gather step later and the ball was sent in an arcing trajectory.

"When I got the ball, I just tried to finish it off by taking a shot. Definitely, it was a lucky shot, but even for luck we had to take a shot. That's just what I did."

As the ball floated at the will of the forces of gravity, it must have felt like time had slowed down for both teams.

"When ball was in the air, I was full blind minded," Vishesh admitted. "When I released the ball, I was just hoping for it go in…"

The buzzer sounded as the ball was midway through its path.


"…finally, the ball went in and the result was with us."

Bhriguvanshi quickly rushed to celebrate with his teammates, even as the referees declared that they'd need to look over the replay. Aside from double-checking whether the shot was released on time, they had to see if Aravind Annadurai had touch the shot before it went in.

Fortunately for India, the basket was officially counted and they could continue with their rowdy celebrations.

"We were joking with [Aravind] after the game that thankfully you didn't touch it!"


There aren't any moments bigger than ones like this in a career of a basketball player. That was true for Bhriguvanshi as well, even with his lengthy career as one of India's greatest players of all-time.

"This is my biggest basket of career because we needed it so much. There are some more shots [in my career] but this one was special. And this one was my first game-winning buzzer-beater."

As mentioned, the shot not only won the game for India. It also kept India in the running to qualify for Asia Cup 2021.

They won't be able to qualify directly as the top two teams in their group, but will nonetheless have the chance to claim their ticket from the Qualifying Tournament for third-ranked teams. It's not the ideal path to Asia Cup 2021 as India might have hoped for heading into the Qualifiers, but Bhriguvanshi will take it.

The five-time Asia Cup veteran knows how much it means to play in the Asia Cup so he knows how important it will be to make it to Indonesia later this year.

"I felt so proud [of the win] because if we want to compete in the Asia Cup, we have to qualify. The last window, because of COVID-19, we were out of practice. But here, we had to win and then only then can we think about future."

"This one was very important and much needed."

The shot and the win also meant even more for Bhriguvanshi on a personal level.

"…last month, my mom passed [away]. I can say I got this shot because I had to make it and somehow her blessings are with me and I made it," the India national team star said as he closed out his post-game press conference appearance.


"I was very attached to my mother and because of only her, I am here and representing my nation," he later told FIBA.basketball, revealing that his mother had passed early last month.

"Throughout my career, she always wanted me to perform well and never ever let me face any difficulties in life. She used to watch my matches on TV or the internet all the time and prayed for me and my team."

"I can tell you that maybe because of her, I made that shot."

And because of that shot, India still have hopes of qualifying for the FIBA Asia Cup for their 10th consecutive time.

What a shot, indeed.