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When Indian National Basketball Team Qualified for Olympics

The Indian men's basketball team made history nearly four decades ago when they qualified for the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. Check out the full story when the Indian national basketball team qualified for olympics.

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Last updated: 24.01.2022
When Indian National Basketball Team Qualified for Olympics

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Basketball has faded from prominence in India compared to other popular sports. In recent days, Indian basketball has been absent from major international tournament debates, and India has also been one of Asia's smaller teams. Basketball has found a niche in India's sporting environment, despite not being as popular as cricket, football, or hockey. The country always had something to look forward to, whether it was Satnam Singh becoming the first-ever Indian to be drafted into the rich and glamorous world of NBA or the Indian basketball team recording some fine wins at the Asian level.

The Indian men's basketball team, on the other hand, made history nearly four decades ago when they qualified for the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. The talented crop of Indian basketball stars were the surprise entrants in the Olympics, despite being rated 58th in the world. That was India's first and last opportunity to compete in the Olympics with a basketball team. The Indian basketball team, led by Paramjit Singh, was optimistic about creating an impression at the first-ever Olympics in Moscow in 1980. After many countries withdrew from the Moscow event because of political concerns, India qualified for the Summer Games.

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Teams at the 1980 Olympics 

India, Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Italy, Poland, Australia, Spain, Brazil, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Sweden, and Senegal.

Indian Basketball Team Roster for 1980 Olympics

Ajmer Singh, Shyam Radhey, Amarnath Nagarajan, Baldev Singh, Hanuman Rathore, Diniar Parvez Irani, Tarlok Singh Sandhu, Paramdip Singh, Dilip Gurumurthy, Jorawar Singh, and Harbhajan Singh.

India’s Group: Group A

India, Soviet Union, Brazil, Czechoslovakia

“[It was] a lifetime opportunity,” Paramjit Singh told the FIBA website.


“[I felt] I must play to my best because it was unlikely that India will play in the Olympics again.”

Group Stage

The Indian squad was grouped with the Soviet Union, Brazil, and Czechoslovakia in Group A. Their first match was against India, who were defeated 121-65 by the host team. Ajmer Singh's 22 points and five rebounds were the only bright spots in that game. In the second game, India faced Czechoslovakia. The Czechoslovaks won a thrilling 133-65 game. Brazil defeated India in their third group round encounter. They finished their group stage matches with a humiliating 137-64 loss. However, Shyam Radhey, who scored 32 points, was the buzz of the match.

Classification Round

India attempted to gain a foothold in the classification round games. The Polish team, captained by Mieczyslaw Mlynarski, defeated India 113-67. A match against Senegal, who won 81-59, followed the contest. Sweden also won 119-63 against India. For the 11th or 12th place match, India met Australia. With a score of 93-75 in their favor, the Australians won the match. India came in 12th position overall in the Olympics.

Ajmer Singh had the eighth-best scoring average in the competition, while Radhey Shyam had a strong showing as well. India's aspirations to challenge the Asian order at continental events continued in the following years. However, with heavyweights such as China, South Korea, and Iran in the mix, Indian basketballers found it difficult to compete.

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