The match will take place in Jordan on September 27 from 12.30 pm IST.
The Indian women’s basketball team will begin their FIBA Women’s Asia Cup 2021 campaign with a stern test against Tokyo Olympics silver-medalists and defending champions Japan. The tournament opener will take place on September 27 at the Prince Hamza Hall in Amman, Jordan.
Placed in a tough Group A alongside Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, India will need to dig deep if they are to make the semi-finals of the event. On the other hand, Group B consists of China, Australia, the Philippines and Chinese Taipei. The top team from each group will progress directly to the semi-finals.
Meanwhile, the second-placed team from Group B will face the third-placed team from Group A and the third-placed team from Group B will play the second-placed team from Group A in the playoffs. The winners of the two playoff matches join the group winners in the semi-finals.
The FIBA Women’s Asia Cup 2021 also acts as the Asia and Oceania Qualifier for the 2022 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup to be held in Australia. The top four teams from the continental showpiece will make it to the World Cup.
India, ranked 70th in the world, hosted the previous two editions of the Women’s Asia Cup in 2017 and 2019. Despite this, they failed to make home advantage count on both occasions. At the 2017 edition, India topped Division B to earn a right to play with the heavyweights of the game in the next edition. In 2019, however, they finished at the bottom of the standings losing all their matches. The Young Cagers’ best-ever finish came in the 2013 edition, when they had managed a fifth place finish in Thailand.
Zoran Visic is in-charge of the Indian women’s basketball team. The Serbian will bank heavily on captain Shireen Limaye, who was also the country’s top scorer in the last edition. Stephy Nixon, Madhu Kamari and Navaneetha Pattemane are the other key players in the squad.
The Japanese women’s national team currently hold the eighth rank in the world. They recently had a historic Tokyo Olympics campaign on home soil. Under the tutelage of American Tom Hovasse, Japan bagged an Olympic silver medal. They finished in second place in Group B. Stunning victories over European heavyweights Belgium and France followed. Against the French in the semi-finals, Rui Machida set an Olympic record with 18 assists. Eventually, they lost to the USA in the final.
In doing so, Japan became the first Asian nation to reach the Olympic podium in women’s basketball, since China in 1992. In addition, it was Japan’s first Olympic basketball medal (for men or women).
Rejuvenated by the historic triumph, Japan are now aiming to defend their continental crown. They are the four-time defending champions and have gradually become a basketball powerhouse in recent times. In total, Japan have five titles in the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup. They will play in their first major tournament since Hovasse departed, with Toru Ontsuka appointed as his successor.
India and Japan have faced each other on five previous occasions. The first meeting came in the year 2009, when Japan beat India 108-58. The most recent meeting was just over two years ago in 2019, when the Japanese team thrashed India 103-27. India are yet to taste victory against the reigning FIBA Women’s Asia Cup champions and it will again be a tough ask on Monday.
For the first time in the history of the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup, the competition will take place in West Asia. That in itself is very interesting because despite not playing at this Division A event, Jordan is a nation that is doing everything it can to grow women’s basketball and ensure it is embraced even further by the region. Prince Hamza Hall will play host to the finest talents in the region.
Opponent to Watch
What a year it has been for the young shooting guard! Nanako Todo was given a place in the Tokyo Olympics squad by now ex-coach Tom Hovasse. She repaid the faith with some nice cameos off the bench to propel Japan to that historic silver medal.
The 20-year-old will have the opportunity to continue the momentum since she is one of only five members of that team named in the Asia Cup squad. Domestically, Todo plies her trade for Toyota Boshuoka Sunshine Rabbits in the Women’s Japan Basketball League. Dynamic and with some potentially explosive scoring ability, she will be a delight to watch in this tournament.
Vaishnavi Yadav, Sruthi Arvind, Stephy Nixon, Sathiya Senthil, Navaneetha Pattemane, Sreekala Rani, Anumaria Chenganamatthathil, Shireen Limaye, Sahana Shivamogga, Pushpa Senthil, Madhu Kamari, Nishanthi Masumamani.
Nanako Todo, Saki Hayashi, Saori Miyazaki, Himawari Akaho, Monica Okoye, Stephanie Mawuli, Kiho Miyashita, Moe Nagata, Tamami Nakada, Haruno Nemoto, Risa Nishioka, Ririka Okuyama, Mai Yamamoto.
Where to watch
The India Vs Japan FIBA Women’s Asia Cup will be streamed on the official FIBA Youtube Channel on September 27 at 12.30 pm IST .