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Despite Asiads snub, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi looks at bright future of Indian basketball

Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, the captain of the Indian basketball team, led his Delhi team to clinch the bronze medal at the 37th National Games.

Despite Asiads snub, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi looks at bright future of Indian basketball

Pritish Raj

Published: 3 Nov 2023 8:50 AM GMT

Goa: It was business as usual for the Indian basketball team captain, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, as his Delhi team clinched the bronze medal in the basketball event at the 37th National Games on Wednesday.

“It had been a long time since Delhi had won anything in basketball. It is a great feeling, and we played as a team to overcome the challenges,” Vishesh told The Bridge on the sidelines.

The 31-year-old, who suffered an injury during India's qualifying campaign in the FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup last year, has made a remarkable comeback and feels much better than before.

“Fortunately, this time, my injury was very well managed. When I got injured, I was determined to come back to the court immediately. Sparcc Institute played a crucial role in my rehabilitation, assisting me at every step,” said Vishesh.

Vishesh returned to the court in nine months and was part of the Indian team that participated in the FIBA Olympics qualifiers.

Asian Games disappointment for Basketball team

When the 31-year-old returned from injury, he was ready to lead the Indian team to the Asian Games 2023 but was left disappointed, much like the 2018 edition.

“We were very disappointed. The 5x5 basketball team wasn't sent to the 2018 Asian Games, and it was the same case again,” said Vishesh.

“We are a regular feature in the top 16 of Asia, and we are competing with the likes of Australia and New Zealand. Despite being ranked 12th in Asia, we were not sent to the Asian Games,” said Vishesh.

On the contrary, the Indian men’s football and volleyball teams were sent to the Asian Games, with the volleyball team ranked 12th in Asia and the football team ranked 18th in Asia.

The volleyball team returned with a good result, defeating the likes of South Korea, while the football team had a disappointing performance against Saudi Arabia in the knockout round.

“The players felt disheartened that, for the second consecutive time, we were left without any plausible explanation,” Vishesh highlighted the plight of the Indian basketball team.

The journey of Indian basketball

In 17 years of his career, Vishesh has seen Indian basketball go from nothing to a good standard.

"When I started playing basketball, there weren’t enough training facilities and financially my family wasn’t too sound either. But I never gave up, I continued to practice and play games at makeshift locations," Vishesh looked back at his journey of 17 years.

Indian basketball started picking up around the time of 2008 when the 3x3 men's team picked up gold in the Asian Games defeating the likes of the Philippines.

The necessary push to the sport came when the late Harish Sharma (former CEO of the Basketball Federation of India) secured a 30-year deal with IMG Reliance to promote the sport and a deal with the NBA to send experienced coaches to the country.

“Basketball faced a big setback after the demise of Harish Sharma sir. He was the one doing a lot of things during his tenure. Bringing renowned coaches and Reliance coming on board for a league were some very good things,” recalled Vishesh.

“Had Harish sir been with us, Indian basketball would have been at a different level,” Vishesh added.

While the demise of Harish Sharma derailed the progress, Indian basketball slowly picked up with smaller leagues starting and youngsters picking up the sport.

“We have a young lot coming in and they are performing brilliantly. Our young batch is inexperienced but they are talented and with time, they will shine,” said Vishesh.

With the new administration of the BFI in place, Vishesh is hopeful of a brighter future for Indian basketball.

"The players are being valued now. Earlier, there was no one asked us about our requirements but now we have personnel to take care of our nutrition and our injuries. That is a positive sign of change," said Vishesh.

“Aadhav Arjun has a perfect vision for the future of Indian basketball and the whole basketball fraternity is looking at his vision with a lot of hope,” said Vishesh.

The 31-year-old will be gearing up for the upcoming National Championships after his brilliant show at the National Games.

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