Meet the Asia Cup 2022 Teams: India
JAKARTA (Indonesia) - India were close to missing out their first Asia Cup since 1999 and had to play their way through the Qualifying Tournament for Third-ranked teams.
Nonetheless, they’ve made their way back to the grand stage.
Let’s take a quick moment to meet India in this "Meet the Teams" series!
World Rank according to FIBA World Ranking Presented by Nike: 82
This might be the case of growing pains for India, a team that has been putting much effort into giving opportunities to their young guns in the recent years.
Since the first window of the Asia Cup 2022 Qualifiers, India have dropped 8 spots in the World Ranking and 2 among Asia & Oceania teams.
Asia Cup Debut: 1965
In India’s first ever Asia Cup back in 1965, they were placed in Group B of the Preliminary Round along with Chinese Tapei, Korea, Thailand, and Hong Kong. In their second game, India were able to claim their first ever Asia Cup against Hong Kong 58-55.
In the Classification Round, they were able to win all three games to end up at 7th place in their debut.
Asia Cup Appearances (including 2022): 26
Even since making their Asia Cup debut, India have missed the Asia Cup only twice, in 1993 and 1999. Missing Asia Cup 1993 means this will be India’s first time playing Asia Cup basketball in Indonesia.
Ever since the turn of the millennium, India have not missed a making it to the Asia Cup at all.
Most Recent Appearance: 2017
India were drawn into Group A of Asia Cup 2017 to face against the likes of Iran, Jordan, and Syria. While Iran easily had their way, India put up quite a fight against Jordan and Syria, losing by single digit margins.
The roster for India in this competition was solid, with Amjyot Singh as the leading scorer (13.0 points per game), Amritpal Singh leading in rebounds (8.7 rebounds per game), and rising prospect Muin Bek Hafeez in the mix.
It was a bit of a shame that they missed out on having a healthy Vishesh Bhrugivanshi in the backcourt as his experience would have been valuable.
Best Position in Final Standings: 4th place (1975)
Since 2005, India have only placed in double-digit spots of the Final Standings.
To find India’s best Asia Cup run, you would have to go back to 1975 in Bangkok. They got out of the Preliminary Round with wins over Malaysia, Kuwait, and Sri Lanka.
India would collect two more wins in the Final Phase against the Philippines and hosts Thailand to secure their 4th-place finish.
Notable Player(s): Vishesh Bhriguvanshi
India have a long history in the Asia Cup and most certainly have a long list of legendary players to make note of, but one that stands out - at least in recent memory - for more than a decade is Vishesh Bhriguvanshi.
The “Bearded Baba” has been playing in the Asia Cup since 2009 when he was only 17-years-old. He immediately went to work in his debut, averaging 15.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game.
He’s played in five Asia Cups since then and has been playing well enough in the Asia Cup Qualifiers and World Cup Qualifiers, enough to make it feel like a 6th appearance is coming soon.
Adding to his legendary status is his buzzer-beating game-winning halfcourt heave against Iraq in the Asia Cup Qualifiers. Without that shot, India could have went on to lose the game in overtime, which in turn might have eliminated India from Asia Cup contention.
How they got here:
India almost didn’t make it. Almost.
After losses to Bahrain and near losses to Iraq, India finished 3rd in Group D of the Asia Cup 2022 Qualifiers. They then had to play through the Qualifying Tournament for Third-Ranked teams, where they immediately lost their first game to Saudi Arabia.
It went down to the final wire with India claiming a slight 79-77 victory over Palestine, allowing them to check themselves into Asia Cup 2022.
Current Outlook: Youth Movement
The familiar faces and current stars of India are still around, whether it is Bhriguvashi, Amjyit, and Amritpal among others. Still, coach Veselin Matic has been clear that right now is the time to get the next wave of talents into the national team pool.
We’ve seen some grow up right in front of our very eyes like Sahaij Pratap Singh Sekhon and Prashant Singh Rawat. While the stars of India will have their moments, the big question for India basketball fans is whether they’ll see another star in the making emerge in Jakarta.