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SportBasketballCoach Matic all praise for Indian team

Coach Matic all praise for Indian team

Published: 24th Aug 2021 12:18 am

Hyderabad: Vaselin Matic, the Serbian coach, is mighty pleased with the way the Indian basketball team played and qualified for FIBA Asia Cup finals from Group H in Jeddah. India joined 13 teams — hosts Indonesia, Australia, Bahrain, China, Iran, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Lebanon, New Zealand, Philippines, and Syria — that have already qualified for the 16-team competition. It will be held in Jakarta in July 2022.

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“For me it is a big result. It is a small step but it is a significant one. This team shows that character, energy and enthusiasm to play in big tournaments. Even in the match against hosts Saudi Arabia, they fought bravely before losing a close match. That we could beat Palestine by two points (79-77) was important,’’ said the 61-year-old coach from Bengaluru.

India had to wait till the last match and when the Saudi team beat Palestine it was a huge relief for Matic. India had one win and one loss to make it to the next stage.

“We have some young players like 18-year-old Pranav Prince, who is ready to play big matches. This team is full of energy but what they lack is the big match experience. That has been the big drawback. The Covid-19 pandemic too played havoc with our preparation for the tournament. We were confined to the training camp,’’ he said.

The team is a blend of experience and youth. But coach Matic feels that India should invest in young players.

“That is the way to look to the future. We have to take promising players who can deliver the goods. All the 30 players are very good in this camp. I have a lot of trust in the players’ abilities but unfortunately, the camp was hit by Covid-19 pandemic. We had to go through a hard grind. It was a struggle literally as we had to be confined to the camp only. We straightaway went into the tournament.’’

Basketball is very popular in the country, according to Matic. “We have to project the game in the right way. India has more non-professionals. Indian basketball has to be more professional as it has great potential in the country. They have semi-professionals, amateurs or students. This will not help.’’

Matic, who is in the third year of his stint with the Indian team, would have to be ready for the bigger tests ahead. We have to re-organize immediately to be ready for the next step. We have to work from the scratch. However, I appreciate the federation and the Sports Ministry for the splendid support during the Covid-19 pandemic.’’

Indian team: Arvind Kumar Muthu Krishnan, Pratyanshu Tomar, Pranav Prince, Muin Bek Hafeez, Joginder Singh, Jagdeep Singh, Sahaij Pratap Singh Sekhon, Amjyot Singh, Aravind Annadurai, Amritpal Singh, Prashant Singh Rawat and Vishesh Bhriguvanshi.

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