ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Basketball team skipper Pervaiz Hussain Sunday said his team’s chances are highly bright in the South Asian Games starting in Guwati, India, next month.

Talking to The Nation, Pervaiz said the team lacks international exposure and was given go ahead at the eleventh hour for the event but despite that both male and female players are eager to fight for the gold medal. He picked India as team to beat in the event, which is an experienced side as well as would have support of a hostile home, and vowed to beat them. “We would not disappoint our nation, although realistically, it would be India, who would stand between us and gold but for that we have to be at our level best. I am quite confident our chances of finishing at least second are highly possible.”

He said that Pakistan could handle rest of other teams with ease and comfort as the side has consisted highly competitive and fighting players with a mixture of experience and fresh talent. “It would give us edge against opponents as after tough trials five fresh players have been given chance who are highly motivated and quite agile ones.” He said top national players Prem Shahzad, Ahmed Jan, Tughlab, Zahid and Aaqib of HEC alongside him had given Pakistan a perfect combination.

Pervaiz also lauded Pakistan Sports Board for taking very good care of his team which is training under Pakistan’s top coach Agha Arshad from Lahore and Naib Subadar Mudassar Khan for the last two-weeks. He also requested to PSB Director General Dr Akhtar Nawaz Ganjera to send basketball team to India at least a week prior to the start of the event to help them acclimatise with the conditions. He said they were training at a very limited space and should be allowed to train at Liaqat Gymnasium as they needed large arena for training. “I am sure DG PSB would order moving of our training camp to Liaqat Gymnasium very soon,” he added.

Pakistan captain however was satisfied with the local coaches and said they only needed international standard facilities as well as international exposure to gain experience. “I strongly recommend federation and the PSB to send players for training as well as tournaments in Iran, China, Turkey or even India as it would help enhance our chances of competing against the best and win international medals.”