November 18, 2017

India's Men's basketball roster announced for FIBA World Cup qualifying games next week


After a month in training camp in Bengaluru, India has sharpened up its full list of probables to announce the 12-man roster for the FIBA World Cup qualifying games against Lebanon and Syria in the coming week. In FIBA's new competition system, this will be the first time that India will play in these home-and-away group qualifiers for the World Cup. Last week, the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) announced that Serbian coach Zoran Visic will be leading the team for the away game against Lebanon on Thursday and a clash against Syria at home on Sunday next week.

Team India will be captained by veteran point guard Akilan Pari and will feature one of the country's top players Amritpal Singh, who is on international break from his professional club in Australia's NBL, the Sydney Kings. Amritpal is sure to be the team's centerpiece in the next two games. India is loaded with talented bigs, including the country's first-ever NBA draft pick and former NBA G-League player Satnam Singh, former G-League draft pick Palpreet Singh Brar, Rikin Pethani, Jagdeep Singh Bains, Aravind Annadurai, and more.

Visic, who has coached India's Senior and U16 Women's squads in FIBA Asia tournaments earlier this year, has been appointed the men's team head coach, succeeding Phil Weber of the NBA's New Orleans Pelicans. He will be assisted by former India international Sambhaji Kadam.

India will be without the services of two of their top three players: Amjyot Singh, who is playing for the OKC Blue of the NBA G-League; and Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, who is recovering from a right knee injury.

Team India Roster
  • Amritpal Singh
  • Aravind Annadurai
  • Satnam Singh
  • Arshpreet Singh Bhullar
  • Akilan Pari - captain
  • Prasanna Venkatesh
  • Rikin Pethani
  • Prudhvi Reddy
  • Palpreet Singh Brar
  • Jagdeep Singh Bains
  • Arvind Arumugam
  • Gurvinder Singh Gill
  • Head Coach: Zoran Visic
  • Assistant Coach: Sambhaji Kadam

In the first round of the qualifiers, India has been grouped with Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon. Teams in each group will play each other home and away between November 2017 to July 2018 in the First Round. Listed below is India's schedule - the home team in each case is mentioned first:

  • November 23, 2017: Lebanon vs. India.
  • November 26, 2017: India vs. Syria

India's historic first home qualifier game against Syria will be held at the Sri Kantaveera Stadium on Sunday, November 26, starting from 7 PM. India will play the next rounds of games in late February and in June/July 2018.

At the FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon in August, India lost in the group stage to Jordan, and more surprisingly, to Syria. India were dissappointing after high expectations and were ousted in the first round.

The qualifiers will give India a chance for some redemption, beginning with the first two games later this month. Unfortunately, India will once again relying too much on the performance of their post players. Amritpal, Satnam, Palpreet, and co. can all be wonderfully dominant under the basket, but India is weak in terms of ball-handlers and creative wing players. There will be a lot of pressure for Pari to outplay opposing point guards, and the qualifiers will also be a good litmus test for his young back, Prudhvi Reddy. Without Bhriguvanshi, however, India will again struggle for consistency in setting up their offense as they did when he was hurt at the FIBA Asia Cup. Without Amjyot, they will also need more offense from sharp-shooter Prasanna Venkatesh from the wing.

India will find it difficult to get the win against Lebanon away from home, but back in Bengaluru against Syria is perhaps their best opportunity for a group stage victory. Let the qualifiers commence!

November 15, 2017

How the G-League has become a stepping stone for India’s NBA dreams


This article was first published in my 'Hoopistani' column on The Times of India Sports on November 4, 2017. Read the original version here.

Amjyot Singh is used to being a centrepiece on the basketball court. For the past six years, the 25-year-old, 6-foot-8 power forward has never played for a basketball team where he hasn’t featured in a leading role. He has been India’s leading scorer for half a decade of international competitions, starred at the domestic level for IOB (Chennai), Punjab Police, and the UBA League’s Delhi Capitals, and even when playing professionally abroad, has been a game-changer for successful teams in the Summer and Development Leagues in Japan.

But on a Friday night in Oklahoma City, deep in the Great Plains of central United States, Amjyot was sidelined. He sat on the bench through the whole game as the Oklahoma City Blue—the NBA G-League team that had drafted him two weeks earlier—secured a tense comeback victory over the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. It was the first time since he was a wide-eyed teenager in Chandigarh that he wasn’t an important contributor to his squad.

And yet, he would count it as one of the greatest days of his life.

Just two days before the game, Amjyot had secured his place in the final roster of the Blue, ensuring a contract with the team and suiting up in the team’s blue-and-white jersey. The day before the game, Amjyot posed proudly in his new ‘Singh 13’ jersey.

On his nonguaranteed contract, his future is blurry. He could be cut in the chance of an injury, of another prospect, or a player sent down from the Blue’s NBA’s affiliate, the Oklahoma City Thunder. He is likely to be the last man off the bench on the Blue’s roster until he proves his worth. But even in these uncertain times, the G-League possibility has shown him a path forward to his dreams that international prospects like him couldn’t even have envisioned several years ago.

The NBA, the world’s finest basketball association, launched their official Development League in 2001 with just eight teams, but with the ambition for it to eventually become into a true minor league ‘farm’ system to develop talent. Over the past decade and a half, this minor league has grown rapidly. Now, the recently renamed ‘G-League’ has 26 teams, each with a one-to-one affiliation with an NBA franchise. Over the past four years, around 15 percent of G-League players have received “call-ups” to play in the NBA.

The NBA remains every basketball player’s ultimate destination, the finest level of the game with promise of legacy, competition, fame, and money. But only the rarest of the rare cases make it to this stage.

Most other hoop dreamers around the world have to settle for other options. Players in North America have had a competitive NCAA college basketball circuit and other minor leagues. Professional leagues around the world—from Europe to China to Australia—have been alternative tickets to basketball success for so many others while they kept their NBA ambitions alive.

But the expanded presence of the G-League has helped create the most direct secondary option for players who are on the cusp of an NBA roster, who need to refine and retool their games enough to make those dreams come true. Additionally, it has become an option for NBA teams to stack their assets, to oversee young, raw players develop into future potential contributors.

Two and a half years ago, Punjab-born seven-footer Satnam Singh made history when he became the first Indian to be drafted into the NBA. Satnam was picked by the Dallas Mavericks, who immediately placed him in their minor league affiliate squad Texas Legends. Satnam played for the Legends for two years, earning bit minutes off the bench and never impressing enough to warrant an NBA call-up. Last month, he announced that he would be leaving the G-League behind to continue his basketball journey back home in India.

Last year, Palpreet Singh, another Punjabi big man, was drafted into the G-League by the Long Island Nets, but he never made the team’s final roster after training camp.

When he was drafted with the 103rd pick of the 2017 draft (the 25th pick of the fourth and final round) by the Blue, Amjyot became the third Indian citizen in a space of three years to begin an affair with the G-League.

Amjyot is the eldest, most-experienced, and most talented of the three, but still no closer to playing in the NBA itself. No Indian has yet made an NBA debut. The rise of the G-League, however, has suddenly opened new doors for Indian prospects. Realistically, his path to the NBA is still highly improbable; but thanks to the G-League, players like him can begin to envision the path for the first time.

As the league’s profile continues to rise, watch for many more Indians to follow on Satnam, Palpreet, and Amjyot’s footsteps in the near future. One of those players will eventually become a centrepiece for their team, become a G-League star, and make the next big leap and become the first Indian in the NBA.

November 14, 2017

UBA India hands multi-year contracts to 30 top basketball players - including Satnam Singh


For the past few years, the UBA India has introduced an exciting new avenue for Indian basketball players, launching short competitive seasons of their growing UBA Basketball League, helping India's top players improve the level of their game, and even roping in NBA legend AC Green as their new director of sport. Now, with ambitions to secure the services of their top players for the long term - before the Indian basketball bubble expands - UBA has handed multi-year professional contracts to 30 of their top Indian basketball players. This is the first time that basketball players in India will get guaranteed contracts of this length.

Earlier this month, the UBA signed Satnam Singh, the first Indian drafted into the NBA, to a contract with the league. Satnam had spent the past two seasons playing with the Texas Legends of the NBA's G-League and is set to join his home state's Punjab Steelers with the UBA. Now, they have followed up the big news with the announcement that 29 more players will be signed to contracts into seven of the eight UBA teams.

"I still remember the day I signed my first professional contract in the NBA," said AC Green. "It left a huge impression on my life. Now these players get to experience that same feeling that I once had upon signing my first contract. We are excited about our upcoming season and the future of Indian basketball."

The contracts range from three to five years for a combined total of more than Rs 16 crore. In addition, the signed players will also receive basketball and fitness training from top experts in the USA, along with nutritional guidance to help them maximise their potential.

Apart from Satnam, the players signed to these contracts include several with past or present Indian national team experience, such as Palpreet Brar, Rikin Pethani, Anil Kumar Gowda, Muin Bek Hafeez, Yadwinder Singh, Jagdeep Singh Bains, Prasanna Venkatesh, and TJ Sahi. India's top three players - Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, Amritpal Singh, and Amjyot Singh - are absent from this list, even though all of them participated in the UBA's last season. Bhriguvanshi is recovering from an injury and has been signed by the NBL's Adelaide 36ers as a reserve. Amritpal has become the first Indian to play in the Australian NBL after he was signed by the Sydney Kings. Amjyot was drafted by the NBA G-League and is currently playing for the OKC Blue.

List of players signed with UBA to multi-year deals - via SportStar
  • Bengaluru Beast: Palpreet Brar, Loveneet Singh Atwal, Kaif Zia, Visu Palani, Khushmeet Singh Atwal.
  • Chennai Slam: Chukwunanu Agu, Cammy Carmel, Rikin Pethani.
  • Delhi Capitals: Anil Kumar Gowda, Muin Bek Hafeez, Vinay Kaushik.
  • Haryana Gold: Yadwinder Singh, Akashdeep Hazra, Himanshu Sharma.
  • Mumbai Challengers: Jagdeep Singh Bains, Prasanna Venkatesh, Prudhvi Reddy, Jeevanantham Pandi, Dildar Brar.
  • Pune Peshwas: Siddhant Shinde, Arshpreet Bhullar, Ajinkya Mane.
  • Punjab Steelers: Gurvinder Singh Gill, Sagar Joshi, Harmanpreet Singh, Taj Sandhu, Kaushal Ravi Kumar, Satnam Singh, TJ Sahi, Vikas Mor.

In India, where there is no full-time professional league and the top basketball players are semi-professionals that usually have other jobs, multi-year contracts are a major step forward in helping top talent get job security. Hopefully, this translates to better play on court and more competition in players aspiring to play and star for the UBA.

The Mumbai Challengers won Season 4 of the UBA League in March earlier this year, led by their foreign imports Alex Scales, Jimmy Scroggins, Inderbir Singh Gill, as well as experienced Indian veterans Bains and Venkatesh. The new guaranteed contracts, inclusion of Satnam in the fray and AC Green in the management side, plus the continuing improvement of the players, should help in another great season of basketball when UBA returns for Season 5.

November 10, 2017

Zoran Visic assigned as Coach of India's Men's basketball team for FIBA World Cup Qualifiers - Probables and Schedule


The Basketball Federation of India (BFI) announced on Thursday that Zoran Visic - the experienced Serbian basketball coach who has been at the helm of India's Women's basketball teams this year - will now be appointed to a new challenge. Visic has now been assigned Head Coach of India's Men's basketball team for the upcoming round of 2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers. The BFI has also released a list of 19 probables for Team India for the qualifying games against Lebanon and Syria later this month.

Visic's open attitude to new challenges have helped him become a surprisingly ubiquitous presence in Indian basketball over the course of the past few months. He was originally hired to be the head coach of India’s women’s senior national team in June. In July's FIBA Asia Cup in Bengaluru, he helped India win the (secondary) Division B of the competition. To maintain continuity, the BFI appointed him Head Coach of India's U16 Women's squad, too, and he repeated his feat, helping the team secure the same success (Division B win) in the same city (Bengaluru) at the FIBA Asia U16 Women's Cup last month.

Visic's counterpart for India's Senior Men's team - at the FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon earlier this year - was experienced NBA coach Phil Weber. But Weber's appointment only lasted a few months in preparation and until the end of the Men's Asia Cup - there had been a void at the helm of the Men's team. With Visic available, the BFI turned inwards to find someone who had gained some understanding of the Indian system to lead the Men's squad forward for the next few games.

Visic is a FIBA World Instructor and has over 34 years of professional basketball coaching experience across Serbia, Romania, Russia, Yugoslavia, Lebanon, and Singapore. He was appointed coach of the Men's team earlier this month at the beginning of the Senior National Men's Coaching Camp for the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers that is currently going on in Bengaluru at Sree Kanteerava Stadium. Visic's assistant coaches for the national team are Paramdeep Singh, Shambhaji Kadam and Laldingsanga Hangsing.

The camp, which started on November 1, will be held until November 20, before India fly to Lebanon for their first qualifying game on the 23rd, and then return home for the second qualifier against Syria on November 26.

The 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup is scheduled to be held in China from August 31 - September 15, 2019. In the run-up to this biggest-ever event, FIBA is holding home-and-away style qualifiers over a space of 12-18 months to decide the tournament's final 32 qualifiers.

In the first round of the qualifiers, India has been grouped with Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon. Teams in each group will play each other home and away between November 2017 to July 2018 in the First Round. Listed below is India's schedule - the home team in each case is mentioned first:

  • November 23, 2017: Lebanon vs. India.
  • November 26, 2017: India vs. Syria
  • February 23, 2018: India vs. Jordan
  • February 26, 2018: India vs. Lebanon
  • June 28, 2018: Syria vs. India
  • July 1, 2018: Jordan vs. India

To qualify for the Second Round, India have to finish within the top three of their group. As they currently stand in the FIBA rankings, India are the third-best team in Group C, behind Jordan and Lebanon. At the FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon in August, India lost in the group stage to Jordan, and more surprisingly, to Syria, The qualifiers will give India a chance for some redemption, beginning with the first two games later this month.

With the exception of Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, India's lead guard who has been struggling with injuries all year, the BFI has named a strongest-possible list of 19 probables for Team India at the qualifiers. This list includes Indian stars Amjyot Singh and Amritpal Singh who are currently in the NBA G-League and the NBL in Australia respectively.

Full List of India's probables
  • Amjyot Singh
  • Amritpal Singh
  • Aravind Annadurai
  • Yadwinder Singh
  • Satnam Singh Bhamara
  • Arshpreet Singh Bhullar
  • Arvind Kumar BK
  • Arvind Arumugam
  • Gurvinder Singh Gill
  • Muin Bek Hafeez
  • Akilan Pari
  • Prasanna Ventakesh
  • Rikin Pethani
  • Baladhaneshwar Poiyamozhi
  • Prudhvi Reddy
  • Palpreet Singh Brar
  • Vishal Kumar Gupta
  • Jagdeep Singh Bains
  • Arjun Singh

It is unlikely that Amjyot and Amritpal will return to the national team from their professional obligations to take part in the first round of these qualifiers. But the team does feature a number of other exciting players to keep an eye on. On top of the list is of course Satnam Singh, India's first NBA draft pick, who left his NBA G-League team a few months ago to focus on developing his game back home. Satnam got limited opportunities behind Amjyot and Amritpal in the FIBA Asia Cup, and these qualifiers could be his chance to prove that he could be a star for the national team. Palpreet Singh Brar, India's first NBA G-League draft pick, is among the probables, too. Experienced Punjabi bigs Yadwinder Singh and Jagdeep Singh Bains will be there to provide veteran leadership. India's issue, as before, will continue to be the imbalance between frontcourt and backcourt, as there is a shortage of star guards in Vishesh Bhriguvanshi's absence. A lot will depend on the development of rising young star Baladhaneshwar Poiyamozhi.

India will struggle without the Big Three of Bhriguvanshi, Amjyot, and Amritpal, but Visic has always focused on team success before highlighting individuals, and hopefully, he can help a new round of players carry the team forward.

November 7, 2017

BFI announces 2017-18 seasons of Indian School and College Basketball Leagues


After a brief hiatus, the Basketball Federation of India's (BFI) premier nationwide school basketball league returned to action last year. Now, cleared of some of the cobwebs blocking Indian basketball, the BFI is set to bring back with a blast both the Indian School Basketball League (ISBL) and the Indian College Basketball League (ICBL) for the 2017-18 season in 22 states and territories around the country.

ISBL will be held between December 25, 2017 to March 15, 2018 in each participating states. ICBL will be held between April 18, 2018 to July 31, 2018. The winners of the Boys and Girls categories in School Leagues and Men and Women categories in College Leagues from each state will qualify for the Indian School and College Basketball Leagues - National Championship later in 2018.

According to the BFI, the ISBL and ICBL will create a structured, self-sustaining system which will serve as the platform to increase organised basketball participation at grassroots level and subsequently serve as the talent development system for the Indian National Teams. These leagues are organized in such a way that it extends to a period of around 6-8 weeks where each team plays only one match every week. Also, the School Leagues have certain regulations which helps each and every player to get a good amount of playing time to showcase their talent.

List of states organizing ISBL and ICBL for the 2017-18 season
  • Indian School Basketball League: Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry, Odisha, Chandigarh, Telangana, Gurajat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, West Bengal, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Indian College Basketball League: Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry, Odisha, Chandigarh, Telangana, Gurajat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Rajasthan.

The previous editions of the School and College League have helped provide the Federation a wider talent pool out of which many of the top performers went on to represent India in different age groups. In 2014-15, Baladhaneshwar Poizamozhi from the ISBL and Muin Bek Hafeez from the ICBL both went on to make their Indian national debuts this year.

Rs. 25,000 will be awarded to the State Level Champions in both ISBL and ICBL, whereas the first and second runners-up will get Rs. 15,000 and 10,000 each, respectively. The details, including dates and locations, for the National Championships in both leagues will be announced soon.

Hopefully, the return of these comprehensive leagues can strengthen the backbone of grassroots Indian basketball and make it easier for talented players to get a platform to shine and improve.

November 2, 2017

NBA and Dream11 launch daily fantasy basketball game in India


Fans of Fantasy NBA, who have for years closely chronicled and competed on Yahoo!, ESPN, etc will be glad to know that there is now an officially-sanctioned option exclusively for Indian fans. The NBA in India has partnered with Dream11, a fantasy sports portal, to launch their official NBA Fantasy Game this season.

NBA and Dream11's official game will be a free daily fantasy game available on NBA.com in India, and can also be accessed via Dream11.com and the Dream11 app, which is available for download via the App Store and the Google Play Store. Users can create a team with 100 playing credits, join contests, and win a variety of prizes and rewards, including NBAStore.in gift cards, NBA merchandise, Dream11 game bonuses, and the opportunity to win a trip to the USA for the the 2018 NBA Finals.

More via IndianTelevision.com

"We are excited to partner with the NBA to add basketball to our growing set of fantasy sports offerings," said Dream11 CEO and Co-Founder Harsh Jain. "Fans of the official NBA fantasy game will enjoy a fast and responsive platform which delivers a rich user experience. We believe that avid and casual fans alike will enjoy this simple and easy to understand way of engaging with the NBA."
"The official NBA fantasy game with Dream11 will be a great platform for fans to engage with the league alongside millions of NBA fans," said NBA India Managing Director Yannick Colaco. "Fantasy basketball provides an engaging fan experience and can help drive tune in to our NBA game broadcasts on Sony SIX and Sony Ten 3."

Dream11 was originally launched as a Fantasy Cricket site before they expanded to Football, Kabaddi, and now, NBA.

Go here to start playing the NBA Fantasy Game!

November 1, 2017

Indian basketball star Amjyot Singh makes OKC Blue roster in the NBA G-League


Last week, Indian basketball fans received a new excuse for celebration, a continuing Diwali miracle: homegrown basketball star Amjyot Singh had beaten the final buzzer and drafted among the final picks of the NBA's G-League Draft by the Oklahoma City Blue. Amjyot's selection was the 103rd pick (the 25th pick of the fourth and final round) of the night, ensuring that the Blue would have the rights to bring him in for his medical, training camp, and a possibility of making the team's final 2017-18 roster.

For the past week, the 25-year-old Amjyot has been in Oklahoma City, competing with other young dreamers for the final available spots. On Tuesday, the Blue waived two players from training camp and announced their final roster for the season - which included Amjyot! The 6-foot-8 forward will play stack up among Blue players such as PJ Dozier and Daniel Hamilton for a team led by Head Coach Mark Daigneault.

G-League contracts are non-guaranteed, which means that Amjyot can be dropped at any point in case of injury, better options, players being sent down from the Blue's NBA affiliate Oklahoma City Thunder, etc. Still, this is big news for Amjyot. He has become the third Indian citizen to flirt with the G-League, after India's first NBA draft pick Satnam Singh played for the Texas Legends for two years and Palpreet Singh was became the first Indian to be drafted in the G-League - by the Long Island Nets - last year. Palpreet, however, never made the Nets' final roster.

Amjyot is one of India's most talented basketball players, one of the national team's "Big Three" along with Amritpal Singh and Vishesh Bhriguvanshi. For the past five years, he has been India's most consistent scorer on the international stage and helped India to many high-profile victories. Amjyot played professionally in Japan's Summer League and Development League a few years ago and is an accomplished international 3x3 basketball star. Originally from Chandigarh, the 6-foot-8, 25-year-old forward was India's captain and leading scorer at the recently-completed FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon. Amjyot was trained at the Ludhiana Basketball Academy in Punjab and played domestically for IOB (Chennai), Punjab Police, and the Delhi Capitals of the UBA League.

October 29, 2017

Mongolia (Men), Australia (Women) win 2017 FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup; India women finish 4th, Men 9th


Basketball's new, short version took another successful step towards its exponential growth this week. In Mongolia, the top 3x3 basketball teams from Asia and Oceania took part in the 2nd FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup in Ulaanbaatar from October 27-29. A total of 27 men and women's teams participated in this quickfire tournament, including teams from India. By the end of Sunday, hosts Mongolia took home the Men's gold in front of their home fans, while Australian women finished atop their division.

In the tournament's previous iteration in Qatar, India's women won the gold medal. This time around, however, they were ousted in the semi-final stage and had to settle for fourth place. India's men's team failed to make it out of the group stage and finished at ninth.

Mongolia met New Zealand in the Men's final and pulled away in the final minutes for a 19-14, thanks to the play-making of MVP Dulguun Enkhbat and the scoring of Tsenguunbayar Gotov.

Australia, in their debut in this tournament, were led by MVP Isabell Bourne en route to a 21-15 victory in the women's final.

China defeated India's women 21-16 to secure third place. Australia won third-place in the men's division, defeating Kazakhstan 21-18.

India's women, a team that featured Shireen Limaye, Jeena Scaria, Raspreet Sidhu, and Grima Merlin Varghese came into the tournament with aspirations to defend their gold medal from Qatar. In the group stage's Pool D, India beat Kyrgyzstan in their first game 20-12, but lost to New Zealand in nail-biter 16-15. India defeated Mongolia in the Quarter-Final 16-14, but their entry to the finale was blocked by Malaysia who defeated them 19-13. India's final game was a third-place matchup against China, which they lost 21-16 and finished fourth.

India's men's team featured Ravi Bhardwaj, Anil Kumar Gowda, Gurvinder Singh Gill, and Jeevanantham Pandi. They had to begin the tournament in the qualifying round. After losing to Chinese Taipei 21-15 in the first game, they defeated Lebanon 21-19 to sneak into the group stage. Here, they lost both of their matchups, first to China 22-15 and then to Kyrgyzstan 21-19, and their hopes of making the knockout rounds were dashed. India finished at 9th place.

India's Women had two scorers in the tournament's top ten, Raspreet Sidhu and Shireen Limaye.

Men's Team of the Tournament: Dulguun Enkhbat (MVP - Mongolia), Alonzo Burton (New Zealand), Lucas Barker (Australia).

Women's Team of the Tournament: Isabella Bourne (MVP - Australia), Fook Ye Yap (Malaysia), Jinxian Wang (China).

Shoot-Out Contest winner: Fook Ye Yap (Malaysia).

Final Standings

Men
  • 1. Mongolia
  • 2. New Zealand
  • 3. Australia
  • 4. Kazakhstan
  • 5. China

Women
  • 1. Australia
  • 2. Malaysia
  • 3. China
  • 4. India
  • 5. Mongolia

Australia win gold at 2017 FIBA U16 Asia Championship for Women in Bengaluru; Team India celebrate Division B victory!


For the second time this year, India played host to one of FIBA Asia's marquee basketball events in the region, with the top youth women from over a dozen Asian nations descending into Bengaluru's Sri Kantaveera Stadium for the 2017 FIBA U16 Asia Championship For Women. As the week-long tournament concluded on Saturday, October 28th, newcomers Australia - playing under the Asian banner for the first time - took the gold medal with a thrilling win over Japan in the final.

India, meanwhile, began the tournament in the lower Division B. With many encouraging performances, India dominated the second-tier of the competition, winning all of their games in comfortable fashion and securing a qualification to Division A in front of their home fans.

The Division A final pitted the two strongest teams of this year's competition - Australia and Japan - against each other. Japan have been to every final of this tournament (five consecutive times), but only won once, back in 2011. Leading 41-32 at halftime on Saturday, it seemed that they would finally add another gold to their tally. But Australia amped up their defense after halftime were able to edge Japan to secure a nail-biting 61-60 win. This was the first time that teams from Oceania (Australia, New Zealand) were playing in this tournament, and Australia celebrated their entry with a debut gold.

Also on Saturday, 2015 champions China defeated New Zealand led by Ming Zheng (20) and Yutong Liu (17) to secure third place.

The top four teams from Division A - Australia, Japan, China, New Zealand - qualified for the FIBA U17 Women's Basketball World Cup.

Two years ago, India had a forgettable experience at the FIBA U16 Asia Women in Medan (Indonesia), losing all of their higher division games and getting relegated to Division B. This had been a similar situation with India's senior women's team for this year's FIBA Asia Women's Cup in Bengaluru earlier this year. India's coach - the Serbian Zoran Visic - helped the senior team finish that previous tournament in perfect fashion and regain Division A status. Visic was named head coach of the U16 team by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) to help repeat his achievement for the younger girls.

India started the 2017 U16 championship in Division B's Group A, alongside Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the last-minute addition, Iran. India opened the tournament in dominant fashion with their best offensive performance: led by a dominant all-round performance by Vaishnavi Yadav (23 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, 8 steals), India blew past Nepal to a 106-37 win. Captain Pushpa Senthil Kumar added 18 points and 11 rebounds to India's winning effort.

Game 2 against another South Asian competitor Sri Lanka proved to be more of the same. India started the first quarter in style, getting a 30-7 lead, and cruised to a 86-58 victory. Monica Jayakumar had her breakout moment with 19 points and 8 rebounds, while Kumar was unstoppable in the post again (18 points, 19 rebounds).

India's most interesting group opponent was set to be Iran, a late entrant to the women's basketball stage in the continent. After a hesitant start, India took complete charge in the second quarter and dominated on both ends of the floor after halftime for a convincing 97-53 win. Vaishnavi Yadav (29 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists) was at the top of her game, leading five Indians in double figure scoring.

India had now earned a qualification straight for the semi-final, where they played a much taller Kazakhstan side. But the height disadvantage didn't stop India, and instead, spurred to the team to a strong defensive effort. Led again by Yadav (21 points, 15 rebounds), India shut down the Kazakhs to win 77-40.

In the senior women's final against Kazakhstan, India had needed a dramatic game-winning shot by Shireen Limaye to secure their Division B victory. In the U16 final against Malaysia, however, no such heroics were necessary. Like they had been all tournament, India were dominant from the star, holding Malaysia to just three points in the first quarter and holding a 32-24 halftime lead. Another spurt in the third and some tenacious defensive work helped India close the game out with a 64-48 win.

India ended the tournament with a perfect 5-0 record, won Division B, and secured their promotion to Division A for the next iteration of this tournament.

The biggest star to emerge for India from this championship was Uttar Pradesh girl Vaishnavi Yadav. After making a name for herself at the Youth Nationals for UP earlier this year, Yadav enjoyed her major international breakthrough in front of an eager home crowd. She finished the tournament as Division B's leader in points (20.4 ppg) and joint leader, with another Indian Neha Karwa, in assists (6.2). Yadav was also India's second-best player on the boards, grabbing 8.8 rebounds per contest. The team's captain Pushpa Senthil Kumar was also a major force in the post, finishing as the division's second-best rebounder (13.2 rpg). Karwa was a steady presence for India all tournament, too, and could be a guard to watch for the future.

Final Standings
  • 1. Australia
  • 2. Japan
  • 3. China
  • 4. New Zealand
  • 5. Korea

October 27, 2017

NBA Legend AC Green joins UBA India as Director of Sport


Through a 16-year career in the NBA, big man AC Green made a reputation for himself as the ultimate 'Ironman' of the league. He played in 1278 out of 1281 games in his career (99.8%) and made the record for most consecutive games played in NBA or ABA history (1,192). His efforts bore him great fruit, as Green won three championships through the course of his career with the Los Angeles Lakers and even made the 1990 All Star Team.

Now, Green will hope that his experience and tenacity will brush off on to a new generation of athletes - all the way in India.

After conducting four iterations of their trail-blazing basketball league in the country, UBA India (United Basketball Alliance) announced on Friday that they will be appointing Green as their Director of Sport. Green will help to continue develop the league with his experience and become the most famous international face attached to UBA's efforts in India.

“Today, we continue our commitment to India and the game of basketball by adding a key member to our team who brings the game’s highest level of professionalism to the UBA," said Tommy Fisher, UBA Chairman. "We’re excited to have A.C. as part of our team and look forward to continued growth of basketball in India.”

Green is no novice to India. He visited the country first in 2009 for grassroots programme and to inaugurate an NBA donated basketball court in Mumbai.

“Basketball is such an important part of my life and I am happy to be heading to India once again to help further the growth and development of the sport I love," said Green. "The UBA has made great strides in the last two years and I look forward to building upon that success.”

Green was drafted by the Lakers in 1985, where he won two championships as part of Magic Johnson's "Showtime" squads as a youngster. In the mid 90s, he played for the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks, before returning to the Lakers for one more championship in 2000 with Shaq and Kobe. He retired after a final season with the Miami Heat in 2001.

The UBA held the first season of the UBA Basketball League in Hyderabad in July 2015. Ever since then, the league has held three more seasons, expanded their events to more cities like Pune, Chennai, and Bengaluru, broadcast games live on Ten Sports, welcomed a number of celebrities to promote the league, and took their elite players for coaching to the United States. This year's Season 4 was UBA's biggest one yet: in addition to incorporating more foreign imports into the league, they were also able to secure the talents of India's best players in their teams, and thus significantly raise the level of the game. Green's involvement adds yet another facet to their development plans for basketball in India.

October 26, 2017

Former NBA player Andre Miller to drop dimes in India next week


They call him "The Professor" in NBA circles. Andre Miller played seventeen years in the NBA and finished his career ranking top-ten in assists in league history. And yet, he never played in an All Star Game, was never considered for an All NBA Team.

Miller's majestic quality to NBA lore came in the form of quiet, efficient leadership. For seventeen years, he played for nine different teams, spreading his wisdom and spreading the offense, helping talented players get open shots, young players learn from his experiences, and when asked to, dropping in a good share of points on his own. Now, the retired NBA player will bring his valuable dimes to basketball's next big market - India - to support the continued growth of basketball in the country.

Miller will travel to Delhi-NCR on October 30th, where he will visit the NBA Basketball School. On October 31st, he will lead a clinic at the NBA Academy India in Greater Noida. During his trip, he will also appear on the 'Around the Hoop' NBA roundtable show on Sony SIX in Mumbai.

"I'm looking forward to my first visit to India to see firsthand how the NBA has been developing basketball in the country," Miller said. ""I understand there's a lot of potential in India, and I'm excited to contribute to the growth of the sport."

Originally drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1999, Miller played arguably the best basketball of his career in a Cavs jersey, highlighted by the 2001-02 season when he finished with 16.5 points per game, a career-high and league-leading 10.9 assists per game, and a career-best 4.7 rebounds per game. From then on, he became a league journeyman, suiting up for the Clippers, Nuggets (twice, and for the longest duration of his career), 76ers, Trail Blazers, Wizards, Kings, Timberwolves, before retiring after a final season with the San Antonio Spurs. His best scoring output was with the 76ers in 2007-08, and he retired with averages of 12.5 points and 6.5 assists per game for the course of his career. Miller only missed three games to injury in his 17-year career. He's the only player in NBA history to have at least 16,000 career points, 8,000 assists and 1,500 steals without making an NBA All-Star Game.

We welcome Professor Saab to India. Hopefully young players here will learn from him, just like some of the NBA's biggest stars have done over the years.

October 24, 2017

India Men and Women gear up for 2017 FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup in Mongolia: Rosters and Preview


India has taken on quicker than most to basketball's newest international format, the 3x3 version of the game. Perhaps its because, while many other countries have saved their top talents for the game's full (5x5) game, India has often sent the best available players to all versions of the game. Without a domestic basketball league, our top players are often ready and eager to play in as many competitions as possible. And it was in this spirit that India's women's senior team famously took home the gold in FIBA's first-ever Asian 3x3 basketball championship, held in Doha, Qatar, in 2013.

Four years later, Indian Women and Men will return to the senior 3x3 Asian stage with expectations to keep shining while the rest of the world has gotten more serious about this format.

The 3x3 FIBA Asia Cup 2017 is set to be held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, from October 27-29. 15 Men's and 12 Women's teams will be taking part in the three-day quick-fire championship.

In the tournament's previous iteration in Doha, the home squad Qatar took the Men's gold with a win in the final against Saudi Arabia. The Women's title was won by India against this year's hosts Mongolia in the final. Playing in a tougher fray, India's men were knocked out in the Quarter-Final stage in 2013.

This year, team's from Oceania will also be taking part in the Asian competition system. Based on recent 3x3 points accumulation rankings, India's outlook is not looking good: we are ranked bottom of all teams in both the Men's and Women's rankings. Japan, New Zealand, and Kazakhstan have been the most favoured Men's squads in the lead up to this tournament; the Women's teams to watch will be Kazakhstan, China, and Turkmenistan.



India's Women are drawn in Group D of the tournament with Kyrgyzstan and New Zealand. India's Men's team will have to first get out of the Qualifying Draw's second group against Chinese Taipei and Lebanon, before being pooled into one of the four Men's groups.

FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup Pools

Men
  • Pool A: Japan, Bahrain, Mongolia.
  • Pool B: New Zealand, Qatar, QD1 Winner.
  • Pool C: Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka, QD2 Winner.
  • Pool D: China, Kyrgyzstan, QD Best 2nd.
  • Qualifying Draw 1: Turkmenistan, Australia, Malaysia.
  • Pool D: Chinese Taipei, Lebanon, India.

Women
  • Pool A: Kazakhstan, Chinese Taipei, Australia.
  • Pool B: China, Sri Lanka, Mongolia.
  • Pool C: Turkmenistan, Malaysia, Qatar.
  • Pool D: Kyrgyzstan, New Zealand, India.

India's rosters for FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup
  • Men: Ravi Bhardwaj, Anil Kumar Gowda, Gurvinder Singh Gill, Jeevanantham Pandi.
  • Women: Shireen Limaye, Jeena Scaria, Raspreet Sidhu, Grima Merlin Varghese.

All four members of India's women's squad were in the team that helped the national squad complete a perfect qualifying campaign at the FIBA Asia Women's Cup in Bengaluru earlier this year. This team has a good combination of current stardom (Scaria, Limaye), experience (Sidhu), and youth (Varghese) and could upset some of the higher-ranked teams in their group. The men's team doesn't feature any of India's most-popular players who are all vying for their trades in leagues abroad, but has a good second string of talent that has emerged in the country over the past few years.

The odds are, unfortunately, stacked against India in both the sections. Our women will find it difficult to make it out of the group to the final rounds, and the men's team might struggle even finishing top or second in their qualifying draw. But 3x3 is an unpredictable game, and hopefully, some of the momentum of the past can help India beat the odds and bring home some silverware.

October 23, 2017

Short of NBA opportunities, basketball trail-blazer Satnam Singh returns to India


This article was first published in my blog for The Times of India Sports on October 12, 2017. Click here to read the original piece.

In the climactic moment to the documentary about him “One in a Billion”, Satnam Singh is in New York City, being driven to the 2015 NBA Draft. It is a life-changing convention that turns selected amateur athletes into full professionals in the world’s most-prestigious basketball league. Even at 19, Satnam has already lived numerous lifetimes: with the help of basketball, he has gone from a small, nondescript Punjabi village to an American education and world-class basketball training at the IMG Basketball Academy in Florida.

Now, he is en route to discover his destiny, suited in his sharpest gear, but looking as nervous as you would ever see a seven-foot giant. He is about to find out if years of toil and turmoil will lead him to the ultimate glory: a selection in the NBA, making him the first Indian citizen to be drafted into the league in its seven-decade history.

In the car on the way to the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, Satnam talks to the agents and friends and mentions how Yao Ming opened the door for basketball in China. Someone tells him encouragingly, that he, too, has already opened the door. Satnam, in broken English, a language barrier that haunted him in his days at the IMG Academy, responds, “Just opened the lock,” he says with a sly smile. “Not door. Just opened the lock.”

A few hours later, history will be made. The NBA’s Deputy Commissioner will call Satnam’s name on behalf of the Dallas Mavericks with the 52nd pick of the draft. A young man’s life—and an entire country’s basketball expectations—will never be the same again.

Little did Satnam know that, his words on Draft Day would become a self-prophecy. After being drafted, Satnam spent the next two years with the Maverick’s affiliate team in the NBA’s minor basketball league (NBA G-League) team Texas Legends. He played only 7.1 minutes per game in 27 appearances over two years, averaging just 1.6 points and 1.4 rebounds. The NBA dream and those over-enthused Yao Ming comparisons seemed to loom too far in the horizon.

Satnam was right: by getting drafted, he had only unlocked the possibility of an Indian even making it into the conversation of NBA athletes. The door for him still remained shut.

Earlier this week, frustrated with lack of opportunity and playing time, Satnam told gathered reporters at an event organised by the General Nutrition Centre in Mumbai that he had decided to return to India to develop his game.

“I had a big problem with no playing time at NBA,” Satnam said to India Today. “I would lose my mind.”

Now, he is hoping that India, and added opportunity, will help him showcase his skillset again. With additional competitive time on court, he hopes to improve this game as well as attract the attention of scouts again.

“If I play here, I will get more game time and my game will improve,” he said to The Field. “I just want to play and work on my skills and moves. If I want to improve my game, I will need somebody who I can work with.”

His decision is somewhat surprising, considering that Satnam joined fellow Punjabi baller TJ Sahi to comment last month that there was “no future” for basketball in India and aspiring players should look for opportunities abroad.

The lack of elite-level competition and no full-time professional league has hampered the growth and opportunities for numerous Indian basketball stars, which is why, many of our top current players—Amritpal Singh, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, Amjyot Singh—are looking for professional opportunities abroad. Satnam, who blazed the trail (while still being the youngest of them all) seems to have taken a step back to his roots.

“Now I have come back to India. I will play for the Indian team,” Satnam said to India Today. “I will work on my game as much as I can. I will play for Punjab, any small tournament. I want playing time. The more I play my game will improve.”

Satnam’s last foray with the Indian national team - at the prestigious FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon in August - didn’t go as well as he would have expected. He was not in ideal game shape and was behind Amritpal, Amjyot, and Arvind Annadurai in the big man rotation. He played less than nine minutes per game and couldn’t help India as they lost all three of their preliminary round games.

If he continues to stay fit, however, he should have no trouble eventually getting playing time in India. He will likely play for Punjab in national tournaments and hopefully find a place for himself in the UBA Basketball League. He will have to evolve his style to fit into the faster pace of the game, which was part of his struggle in breaking into the Texas Legends line-up back in the United States, too.

By returning to India for more playing opportunity, Satnam will be sacrificing the exposure, facilities, and competition that was available to him in the US. Could playing without a fully professionalised league, against inferior opponents, with worse coaching and infrastructure, truly help him find future international opportunities?

From farming in the Ballo Ke village in Punjab to rubbing shoulders with the best in the basketball world, Satnam has already taken Indian basketball further than anyone before him. Indeed, he has unlocked the door to the NBA. Hopefully he - or a successor — will kick it wide open very soon.

India's Amjyot Singh and Indian-American Gokul Natesan both selected late in 2017 NBA G-League Draft


The NBA G-League draft is a marathon, including four rounds and over a 100 picks from a selected pool of players who all have the opportunity to taking a small step to their hoop dream through the NBA's minor league. One of the players waiting in this pool was Indian basketball superstar Amjyot Singh, who had tried and failed at last year's G-League draft, and returned to the United States again last month with renewed zest to prove his worth to coaches and scouts.

But on draft day on Saturday, October 21, as time passed, one pick turned to the next, and the final round of selections came close to its conclusion, it seemed that Amjyot was going to be let-down once again

In true clutch fashion, however, Amjyot got a game-winning play just before time expired. With the 103rd pick of the afternoon (the 25th pick of the fourth and final round), the Oklahoma City Blue - an affiliate of the NBA's OKC Thunder - selected Amjyot Singh! With this pick, Amjyot became the second Indian player to be picked by the G-League (after Palpreet Singh last year) and the third Indian to be selected into the NBA universe (after Satnam Singh was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks in 2015).

If Amjyot passes his physical, he will have the opportunity to join the Blue in their training camp roster. The selection doesn't guarantee that Amjyot will actually play for the team. G-League squads can release their draft picks at any time - last year, Palpreet only lasted with the Long Island Nets for a week before he was released.

Amjyot is one of India's most talented basketball players, one of the national team's "Big Three" along with Amritpal Singh and Vishesh Bhriguvanshi. For the past five years, he has been India's most consistent scorer on the international stage and helped India to many high-profile victories. Amjyot played professionally in Japan's Summer League and Development League a few years ago and is an accomplished international 3x3 basketball star.

Originally from Chandigarh, the 6-foot-8, 25-year-old forward was India's captain and leading scorer at the recently-completed FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon. Amjyot was trained at the Ludhiana Basketball Academy in Punjab and played domestically for IOB (Chennai), Punjab Police, and the Delhi Capitals of the UBA League.

The top pick of the 2017 draft on Saturday was Eric Stuteville, who was picked by the Northern Arizona Suns.

The Indian diaspora have another important reason to celebrate the 2017 G-League draft. Just a few picks before Amjyot, the Canton Charge (affiliated with the Cleveland Cavaliers) selected Indian-American Gokul Natesan with the 97th pick (Round 4, Pick 19), a swingman who had starred for the Colorado School of Mines last season in NCAA Division II. Natesan is from California, and his parents originally immigrated to the United States from Tamil Nadu. He finished 2016-17 season in the All RMAC (Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) First Team and as the RMAC Academic Player of the Year. He led his team in minutes, scoring (18.5 ppg), and assists (4.1 apg) while leading the Mines to the NCAA D2 Elite 8 stage for the first time.

The journey forward is still going to be long and arduous for these two players, but their selection shows the continuing improvement and visibility of Indian basketball players from home and abroad. Hopefully, they can carve a path for many more to follow in their footsteps.

October 22, 2017

Hoopdarshan Episode 54: FIBA U16 Women's Asia Championship Preview with Zoran Visic


This week, India will host the FIBA U16 Women's Asia Championship in Bengaluru. To preview the tournament for the home team, Hoopdarshan invited India's head coach, Zoran Visic for Episode 54, for an illuminating conversation. Visic spoke about India's preparation, our biggest challengers, lessons from coaching India's Senior Women's team, and coping without Serbian food in India.

Hoopdarshan hosts Kaushik Lakshman and Karan Madhok also discussed the beginning of the NBA season, the G-League drafting of Indian basketball star Amjyot Singh, and the conclusion of the Sub-Junior Nationals in this episode.



Hoopdarshan is the truest voice of Indian basketball, and since we're such hopeless fans of the game, it will become the voice of everything basketball related we love, from the NBA to international hoops, too. On every episode of Hoopdarshan, we will be inviting a special guest to interview or chat to about a variety of topics. With expert insight from some of the brightest and most-involved people in the world of Indian basketball, we hope to bring this conversation to a many more interested fans, players, and followers of the game.

Make sure to follow Hoopdarshan on Soundcloud or search for 'Hoopdarshan' on the iTunes Store! Auto-sync Hoopdarshan to your preferred podcast app NOW!

Hoopdarshan can be found on...

October 19, 2017

India U16 Women's team ready to host FIBA U16 Women's Asia Championship in Bengaluru - Roster, Schedule, and Preview


Three months ago, Bengaluru proved its place as a worthy basketball host city, as the city's iconic Sri Kantaveera Stadium hosted the FIBA Asia Women's Cup. This was the first major FIBA basketball event to be held in India in eight years, and in front of the home fans, Team India finished the tournament in style by winning promotion to Division A.

Now, India's youth squad will be hoping that the same arena, in the same city, can provide them the boost that the country's leading ladies received, too. From October 22-28, India will host the FIBA U16 Women's Asia Championship in Bengaluru, featuring the top youth teams from around Asia and Oceania in the youngest FIBA international tournament. India's U16 team, which fell to Division B at the previous iteration of this tournament, will hope to return to the higher stage by the end of next week.

Fifteen teams, divided into two levels of two groups each, will take part in this tournament. In 2015 in Medan (Indonesia), China completed a three-peat at this championship with a win over Japan in the final. India finished the group stage losing all five preliminary round games, and then losing their playoff match against Hong Kong to fall to Division B.

Participating Teams
  • Division A - Group A: Australia, Korea, Chinese Taipei, New Zealand.
  • Division A - Group B: China, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong.
  • Division B - Group A: India, Sri Lanka, Iran Nepal.
  • Division B - Group B: Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Maldives.

Team India will be led by Zoran Visic, the experienced basketball coach from Serbia who also led India's Senior Women's team at the FIBA Asia Women's Cup earlier this year. Visic's assistant coach will be his captain from the senior team - the basketball star Anitha Paul Durai - for whom this will be the first foray into international coaching. The squad is completely changed from the one that played in Medan two years ago. Some of the top players that made a mark in recent Youth and Sub Junior nationals will be featured in this roster, including Vaishnavi Yadav, Ann Mary Zacharaiah, and Elijabet Ekka.

Team India Roster
  • Vaishnavi Yadav
  • Riya Baliyan
  • Ann Mary Zachariah
  • Neha Karwa
  • Khushi Sanjay Dongre
  • Elijabet Ekka
  • Monica Jayakumar
  • Pushpa Senthil Kumar
  • Grishma Niranjan
  • Sreekala Rani
  • Asmat Taunque
  • Sanjana Ramesh
  • Head Coach: Zoran Visic
  • Assistant Coach: Anitha Paul Durai

India will top to top their group in the preliminary round, and then defeat the top squad from Group B of their Division in a playoff, to secure Division A promotion.

India's Preliminary Round Schedule - All timings IST
  • October 22 - India vs. Nepal - 8 PM
  • October 23 - Iran vs. India - 8 PM
  • October 24 - India vs. Sri Lanka - 8 PM

India is the highest ranked team in this group and their entire division. They should be able to cruise past Nepal, although Iran, whose women's teams haven't played in international tournaments for many years, will be the wildcards. Sri Lanka will pose somewhat of a threat, but hopefully, India can propel past them, too. Group B feature two legitimate challenges to India's promotion ambitions: Malaysia and Kazakhstan. The Senior Women's team had to slay the Kazakhs in dramatic fashion in their final game in July; there's a good chance that one of these teams could be testing India to the limit at the FIBA U16 Women's Asia Championship, too.

Meanwhile, the Division A matches should add for some intrigue as now Oceania's powerhouse Australia will challenging China and Japan's place at the top of this fray. Korea and Chinese Taipei are two other teams that could make some noise in this tournament. India's demotion to Division B is a pity, but it could give the home fans the opportunity to see India notch up more victories and end up with a good record - even if it only comes against worse teams.

October 16, 2017

Sony plans to broadcast 100 NBA games with Hindi commentary in India this season


After a short, eventful off-season where (thankfully) it felt like the NBA never really went away, the new season is almost here, tipping off on October 17 - or the morning of October 18 if you are watching from India. There are going to be a number of players in new jerseys this season, and many teams literally wearing new jersey designs, and the potential of new legends to be made.

In India, there is also going to be a lot more NBA in Hindi.

With a mission to penetrate the popularity of the game deeper into the Indian market, the NBA and its Indian broadcast partner Sony Pictures Networks (SPN) have decided to air almost a 100 regular season games with Hindi commentary this season. The games will also, of course, continue to be simulcast in English as usual in Sony's other sports channels live.

According to the Economic Times, the move comes on the back of a trial period last season, when fourteen playoff games were broadcast with Hindi commentary on the Ten 1 channel. As per data provided by NBA India, the games with Hindi commentary were viewed on TV by 8.9 million people in India.

Sony SIX and Sony SIX HD, for the last few seasons, have broadcast two live games almost every morning during the NBA season in India in English. Now, two games per week - during the weekends - will be broadcast on Sony Ten 3 and Sony Ten 3 HD in Hindi, along with the Live wraparound show ‘Around the Hoop’

More via The Economic Times:

“India is one of the top 2 priority markets for us,” said NBA India managing director Yannick Colaco. “We want to popularise the game of basketball and NBA in India. That means we should make it more accessible for the audiences. With this move, we will be able to engage with not just existing, but also potential fans.”
Talking about statistics from last season’s trial run, Colaco said in the Hindi-speaking markets (HSM), the viewership of the telecast with Hindi commentary was double of that with English commentary.

A panel of expert commentators has been engaged to deliver analysis in Hindi for each game, said Rajesh Kaul, president of sports and distribution business at SPN.
The commentators have undergone training to fine tune their abilities in presenting NBA games, which included personalised training by long-time Indiana Pacers’ play-by-play announcer Chris Denari.

चलो बहुत अच्छी बात है. अब पहले से और ज़्यादा प्रशानशक NBA बॅस्केटबॉल का आनंद ले सकेंगे. With the Warriors sure to make another deep playoff run, I'm waiting to see who will be the first commentator to call Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson the छिड़कना-वाले भाईलोग #Splash Brothers.

Rajasthan (Boys) and Tamil Nadu (Girls) win 2017 Sub Junior Nationals in Didwana, Rajasthan


The annual gathering of India's finest, youngest national-level basketball players - the 44th Sub Junior National Basketball Championship for Boys and Girls - came to a conclusion in Didwana, Rajasthan, on Saturday, October 14 with some celebrations for the home side. Rajasthan boys got sweet vengeance in the final over Madhya Pradesh, who had defeated them in last year's final. Tamil Nadu girls also upset Chattisgarh's hopes of retaining their 2016 title with a final win earlier in the day.

The Sub-Junior Nationals - also known as the "minis" - featured 30 boys' teams and 24 girls' teams in the U14 age group from various Indian States and Union territories competing from October 8-14 this year at Didwana's Bangour College Stadium. The Championship was organised by the Rajasthan Basketball Association under the aegis of the Basketball Federation of India (BFI).

Madhya Pradesh boys, the winners from last year, came into the finals with hopes of adding another jewel in their crown. But backed by an enthusiastic home crowd, Rajasthan came out fired up, taking a 28-17 lead in the first quarter and extending the game to a blowout by the end of the third. Prashant (28) and Lokendra (21) led Rajasthan to an impressive 87-59 win and a gold medal. MP were led by Rishikesh's 16 points.

The girls' final was a close, fast-paced game, where Tamil Nadu's rising star Sathya stole the show, dropping 43 points for her squad. Chattisgarh, looking to repeat their 2017 win, were leading 37-29 at halftime, but a 39-22 third quarter run by TN turned the scores around, and TN held on the final period to win 88-81. Kirti (24) and Ruksar (18) led the way for Chhattisgarh in the loss.

Earlier in the day, Chhattisgarh's boys defeated Uttar Pradesh to secure the bronze medal. The girls' 3rd-place game was won by Maharashtra, who defeated the host team Rajasthan.

Final Scores
  • Boys: Rajasthan (Prashant 28, Lokendra 21) bt Madhya Pradesh (Rishikesh 16, Bhagat 14) 87-59 [28-17, 7-10, 31-18, 21-14].
  • Girls: Tamil Nadu (Sathya 43) bt Chhattisgarh (Kirti 24, Ruksar 18) 88-81 [18-18, 11-19, 39-22, 20-22].

Final Standings

Boys
  • 1. Rajasthan
  • 2. Madhya Pradesh
  • 3. Chhattisgarh
  • 4. Uttar Pradesh
  • 5. Punjab

Girls
  • 1. Tamil Nadu
  • 2. Chhattisgarh
  • 3. Maharashtra
  • 4. Rajasthan
  • 5. Karnataka