Indian men's basketball team, led by Amjyot Singh Gill, is all set to participate in the FIBA Asia Cup, which will be held from August 8th to 20th at the Nouhad Nawfal Sports Complex in Beirut, Lebanon.
A total of 16 teams from Asia and Oceania will be vying for top honours and India is in Group A, along with Jordan, Syria, and three-time Asian champions Iran.
The remaining groups comprise the following teams: Iraq, China, Philippines, and Qatar (Group B); Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Korea, and New Zealand (Group C); and Japan, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, and Australia (Group D).
The top three teams from each group will advance to the second phase, where they will be divided into two groups of six teams each (Groups E and F). The top four teams from each of these groups will advance to the quarterfinals.
The Indian men begin their campaign against Iran on August 9th, followed by games against Jordan on August 11th and Syria on August 13th.
China enters the tournament as defending champions, having won the FIBA Asia Championship 2015 on home soil; while the inclusion of Australia and New Zealand in the Asia Cup will only enhance the level of competition.
India's fixtures in Group A promises to be anything but a walk in the park. Last year, Iran won the FIBA Asia Challenge 2016 in comprehensive fashion, while Jordan finished third.
India faced both teams during the Championship - Jordan in the group stages and Iran in the quarterfinals - and lost both games despite battling hard.
Iran also finished third at the FIBA Asia Championship 2015, beating India in the group stages.
Since the top three from each group qualify for the second phase, India (rank 53) only has to put in a strong performance against Syria (rank 72) to secure progression.
India had advanced to the knockout stages of FIBA Asia Challenge and finished seventh defeating Chinese Taipei. India had also beaten China, the Philippines, and Kazakhstan in the group stages.
For India, seasoned Vishesh Bhriguvanshi will make a timely return after making a speedy recovery from an injury that he sustained at the BRICS Games in June.
He will be joined by several star players: Amritpal Singh, who have consistently performed for India at the international level; and Satnam Singh, the first Indian to be drafted in the NBA, who is currently with the Texas Legends in the NBA G-League (previously D-League).
The rest of the team comprises Rikin Pethani and Aravind Annadurai, Talwinderjit Singh, Anil Kumar Gowda, Rajvir Singh and Baladhaneshwar P, and Prasanna Sivakumar and Muin Bek Hafeez.