Thrilling Asia Cup triumph can help India dream higher

"Everything is positive, positive, positive" (2:50)

India Women's captain, Anitha Durai and Grima talk about their win over Kazakhstan in the finals and what it means for the future of women's basketball in India (2:50)

Tied 73-73 with 15 seconds to go in the final of the FIBA Women's Asia Cup, there was a lot on Shireen Limaye's hands as she received the ball. The fate of Indian women's basketball. The nerves of a deafening Kanteerava crowd. The murky prospect of being stuck in the second division. With five seconds left, everything came down to whether Limaye could make one final basket.

Limaye then finally shot. And Limaye netted. India had won, much to the delirium of both the players as well as the crowd. The Kazakhs, who led by 14 points at one stage, just could not believe what had happened. But there was no changing the facts: India are champions of Division B, and as a result of Limaye's nerves of steel, they have now ensured progression to Division A.

What does this mean?

Playing against Asian heavyweights like China, Australia, Japan and Korea in the top division could make India a better team. Two years after being relegated to Division B in Wuhan, China, India are back where they 'belong'. Going unbeaten in the whole tournament, this is India's biggest moment in recent years.

The stars of the tournament

Just like you remember the women cricketers' names after the World Cup, remember these too; they are just as important.

Anitha Paul Durai - Captain, leader, legend

Cutting short her maternity leave to play in the tournament, the veteran led from the front, top scoring in the first game. Durai's experience gave India the mental strength they so badly needed. "I was captain in 2015 when India lost all the games and were relegated. Now India are back into division A in my captaincy. I'm so proud," she said after the game. With only one women's basketball player getting the Arjuna Award in 13 years -- Geethu Anna Jose - perhaps it's time Anitha gets the recognition for her 17 years in Indian basketball. "I wish I get the Arjuna award now," she adds.

Jeena Skaria - The cool one

She top scored in the final, top scored in the semi-final; while also leading the charts in rebounds and assists in the semis. Skaria showed what she is best known for: her temperament. In the last two games, India had their backs against the wall, but Skaria got into the Dhoni state of my mind to get India through. "Whenever it is needed she always comes up stronger. She is one player who never comes under pressure," Assistant coach Shiba Maggon had said of her after the group stages.

Grima Merlin Varghese - The new kid on the block

Playing in her first International tournament, Grima was one of India's biggest finds. She top scored in one group game and the quarterfinals to take India through to the last four. After a top show at international level, the former club teammate of Skaria's is one to watch out for.

What does the future hold?

While the euphoria may make the future look brighter, there are still issues that need addressing. Finding and grooming the right players will be the first thing. Grima, one of India's best players in this tournament, was a replacement for the injured Poojamol KS, which puts question marks over BFI's selection policy.

The men's team have found tall, strong players who are now competing with the big boys in Asia, but what about the women? Unless they go the Japanese way - negating their height difference in playing quick basketball - India in International tournaments will be doing the same: Lose all games against the heavyweights, win one against a weaker team and stay afloat in Division A. The practical method would be to find the tall players, groom them when they are under-13 and give them tournaments to play in. Get them when they are young.

Employment for women players is another defining factor. The men have ONGC and IOB, for example, where they recruit India's best talent to play in invitation tournaments. Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, who just got a chance to play in Australia, played for ONGC. What about the women? A secure future will just make things better.

There is a pro league (a proper basketball league) in the pipeline for the men to play in; again, what about the women? The more the games, better the players.

Potential roadblocks

The BFI's vision for women's basketball remains the biggest concern. Experts say the women will go back to playing the nationals and the games at India level, and things will be the same. But with the federation getting recognized by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports while also being affiliated to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) now, the turbulence at the federation seems to have slowed down. With this win, the women will demand more tournaments and the federation will have to take matters more seriously.

Another big concern is the future of coach Zoran Visic. The Serbian was with the Indian girls just eight weeks prior to the tournament. With three decades of coaching experience under his belt, he has only signed a contract till the end of the tournament. Coming from a basketball country that recently won bronze at Rio, it's hard to ignore the impact he has had so far.

Will the BFI extend his contract if he is willing to stay? Will the women get more tournaments to play in? (This is their first International tournament in two years) Two positive answers for these questions and the women may start jumping higher. Dreaming higher.