India has been drawn in Group C along with Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan for the first round of World Basketball Qualifiers.
The draw was conducted region wise, based on the new qualifying format that sees a total of 80 teams competing region wise across Africa, the Americas, Asia – Oceania, and Europe. Each team will play home and away games over a 15-month period.
The teams will be divided into six ‘qualifying windows’, vying to qualify as one of the 31 teams that will join hosts China at the FIBA World Cup in 2019.
The Qualifiers for the Asia – Oceania region comprise 16 teams that will compete at the FIBA Asia Cup 2017 in Lebanon from August 10 to 20, 2017. The top seven teams from the Qualifiers will advance to play in the World Cup 2019 that will be conducted in China.
India has been drawn in Group C along with Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan for the first round of qualifying. Group A comprises China, New Zealand, Korea, and Hong Kong, Group B has Japan, Chinese Taipei, Australia, and Philippines while Group D will see Iraq, Qatar, Kazakhstan, and Iran fight it out.
This will be the first time ever that the powerhouse Oceania teams of Australia and New Zealand will be competing within the Asian region.
India is currently ranked 53rd in the FIBA rankings, which renders it the third best team in its group after Jordan (28) and Lebanon (43). The 4th team in the group, Syria, is ranked 72nd in the world.
In the first round of qualifying, India will play each of the teams in its group twice (home and away) between November 2017 and July 2018. India must finish in the top three of their group in order to qualify for the second round of qualifying. While the venues for the first round games have not been decided yet, the schedule is as follows:
- Lebanon vs. India, Nov 23, 2017
- India vs Syria, 26 Nov, 2017
- India vs Jordan, 23 Feb, 2018
- India vs Lebanon, 26 February, 2018
- Syria vs India, 28 June, 2018
- Jordan vs India, 1 July, 2018
In the second round of qualifying, the twelve teams that qualify from the first round will be divided into two groups of six each. Each team will play the other teams in its group twice (home and away) between September 2018 and February 2019, and the results from the first round of qualifying will also count towards the standings in the second round.
The top three teams from each group will qualify for the World Cup, along with the better fourth placed team. The World Cup is scheduled to be held in China from August 31 – September 15, 2019.
“I am delighted that the Indian team will figure in the World Championships itself. It is the dream of every nation to compete at that level. The Indian team has been doing well in recent months. With a few of them signing for top clubs sides in America and Asia, they will be richer by the experience and the team will benefit,” said K. Govindaraj, President of the Basketball Federation of India.
“For the first time ever, the Asian qualifiers will now also include Oceania teams of Australia and New Zealand. Consequently, the standard will be much higher,” Govindaraj added.
“I am confident the Indian team will enter the second round and also do well there. At the World championships, you cannot expect easy games. We will do our best to provide the team proper training and exposure. Basketball fans will have the opportunity of witnessing some high-voltage games. I am sure our team will not disappoint them,” Govindaraj added.
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