They have no axe to grind. No agendas to settle and no malicious intent.

The former internationals aren’t really complaining about the Indian team’s poor show thus far in the Asian women’s basketball championship for they know the exalted standards in Level I which has teams like Korea, China and Japan. Rather, it’s the team’s apparent lack of fighting spirit and enthusiasm that has irked the hoopsters of yore.

Pratiba Suriyashekar, who competed in three Asian Basketball Championships (ABC), jumps from her seat when a Chinese Taipei player scores a three-pointer just seconds before half-time against India.

“It’s so frustrating, given a chance, I will go and play,” she says with a mischievous smile. Behind her is former India captain Prasanna Jayasankar, who played in five ABC. ‘Move, attack, catch her,’ she shouts.

“During our time, the team was certainly aggressive. We would die on the court,” says Jayvanthi, former India captain. Concurs Nandini Gulwadi, who competed once in an ABC meet.

“Our overall the standard was good. The current crop has better physique than us-we were more agile. They have more exposure and can certainly perform better than what they are doing now.”

Arjuna Awardee Suman Sharma says the current lot must be more dedicated to the sport.

“Now there are more facilities. All players are of decent height. The team has graduated to level I which is a good sign. I think, it’s the lack of dedication among the players that’s hurting,” says Sharma, who played in three ABC and the 1982 Asian Games.

“There are experienced players, but despite that the speed is less, scoring, too is less and hardly any co-ordination exists,” she adds.

Systematic training needed

Prasanna finds a glaring difference in the current team. “Definitely, our fundamentals were much strong. We had good players in each position; the pool was huge. The remedy says Prasanna, lies in systematic training, more camps and finding talented players in mini, youth, junior and sub-junior and training them for two years.

Meena Latha, who played in two ABCs (1997 and 2001), insists that weight training is a must for all the Indian players.

“With better fitness, they can have more power and agility. I am not sure whether all the players do weight training these days,” she says.

The former Internationals wish the Indian team the best and want the team to improve and reach greater heights.

All they want from the current team is to show some gumption even in a loss.

They say in chorus “die on the court.”

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