India Wins SABA Qualifying Tournament
On June 2-4 we played in the SABA Qualifying Tournament. The winner moves on to play in the Asia Basketball Championship in the Philippines this August. We have been practicing since our initial camp in February and besides a few scrimmages this was our first competition since I arrived. Our first game was against Nepal. They were a young team without much size. We established our defense early and it let to many scoring opportunities. We ended up winning. 107-26. Although it was very one sided I was impressed how the Nepal team played hard right to the final buzzer. Their coaches were very gracious and I look forward to developing a relationship with them going forward. The next night Afghanistan easily beat Nepal 78-20. This set up a great game for the finals. Afghanistan had recently beaten India twice in the SABA event. They were a talented group where many of them had been together for several years. Their coach had played and coached at the DI college level n the U.S. Many of their players were present or former players in the U.S. as well.
We got off to a good start and then held a 15-20 point lead most of the game. Each time they would mount a comeback are players responded. This game was won with our defense. We have worked very hard in practice on the defensive end and this night it paid off. I have reiterated to our players, if we play great defense we will have a chance in every game even if the shots aren't falling. We still have some areas to improve in but this was a good foundation and a big win for our national team.
We will now take a short break and start camp up again in the middle of June. We plan on taking an exposure trip in the middle of July and then onto Manila for the ABC's, August 1-11. India has not faired well here in recent years. We have set some goals to change that.