Nepal and Now China
Our national team started training again in April. For the first time since I have been here we are staying and training at Jaypee Greens Sports Complex just south of Delhi. This is one of the top sports facilities in India and a major upgrade from the previous training centers we have trained at. In May we traveled to Kathmandu, Nepal for the Souteast Asia Basketball Championship tournament. We played Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Maldives, winning all of our games and capturing the SABA Championship. This qualified us for the Asia Cup in Wuhan, China.
After I returned from Nepal I left home for our U20 team development camp in Aurangabad. I trained them there for one week and then flew down to Kerala (Kochi) for the U18 National Tournament. I have heard about Kerala since I landed in India but this was my first time to visit. They call it "God's Own Country" and I can see why. Chawn and her sister, Denise, joined me there. Denise was visiting from the states. Although I kept busy at the tournament we did find some time to do some sightseeing. Chawn and I even celebrated our wedding anniversary at the Taj Malabar restaurant right on the water. Another day we took a houseboat ride down the river, which included lunch. I was also able to visit two schools and share with their students about basketball and my faith. We spent much of our time while in Kochi with James Matthews and his family. They have become dear friends and partners in ministry.
Our national team has once again been training since early June. We were to take an exposure trip in preparation for the Asia Cup but unfortunately it was canceled. This means we will be playing some of the top teams in Asia without any practice games to warm-up with. We will most likely be the only team in the tournament that has not played some practice games before arriving in Wuhan. This presents a greater challenge but we will do our best to overcome. Our team is on a 9 game winning streak dating back to the ABC's last summer but now our biggest test is coming.
Team India leaves for Wuhan on July 9th. We open up with Japan (ranked 35 in world) on June 12. Later in the week we play the host country China (ranked 12th) and Iran (ranked 20). Obvously, this is quite a challenge. I love challenges and our goal is to make history. Our players have worked hard over this past year and we want to show the progress that has been made. Go India!