October 30, 2014

FIBA Asia to conduct clinic for basketball referees & commissioners in New Delhi in December

FIBA Asia will work with the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) to organizers a special FIBA basketball clinic for referees and commissioners in India. The clinic is set to be held in New Delhi on December 6-7, 2014 under the supervision of Lubomir Kotleba, the director of sports for FIBA.

The BFI has suggested that, to register for this clinics, all the State Associations/Units need to nominate an active 'A' Class BFI Referee - preferably below 35 years of age - who will be willing to appear as a fresh candidate to obtain the FIBA License.
Click here for the registration form and email the forms through the State Association to . The last date to submit the form is 15th November, 2014. The Technical Commission will scrutinize and recommend the final list of fresh candidates.

October 29, 2014

Former Champion Bruce Bowen to visit India for NBA Jam and Reliance Foundation events

A three-time NBA champion and one of the fiercest defensive players of his time, Bruce Bowen is set to visit India from October 31 - November 6. Bowen will be attending events at this season's NBA Jam in Kolkata, Gurgaon, Chandigarh, and Ludhiana. The week-long visit will be part of a promotional tour to support the growth of basketball and to connect with fans in India, and it happens at an opportune time, too: Bowen will get a chance to promote the new NBA season, which tipped off earlier today with his former team (and reigning champions), the San Antonio Spurs.

Bowen won all three of his NBA championship rings in San Antonio (2003, 2005, 2007), playing alongside the likes of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and (briefly) David Robinson. Known for his fierce competitiveness on the defensive end and his ability to hit the occasional big shot, Bowen was named to five NBA All Defensive First Teams and three All Defensive Second Teams. Bowen retired in 2009 and the Spurs retired his jersey (12) two years ago.

Bowen will make the first official NBA player visit to Kolkata, and only the second trip by an NBA player to the 'City of Joy' since Kyle Korver in 2008, who was there for charity work. Bowen will also be the first NBA player to visit Ludhiana and Chandigarh; apart from the Delhi-NCR region, the majority of official NBA visits had been limited to further south in the country.

Bowen would make his first stop in Kolkata from October 31 to November 1, where he will engage with students at St. Xavier's College as part of NBA Jam. From Kolkata, he will travel to Gurgaon on November 2, where he will participate in a special fan engagement event. He will go to Chandigarh on November 4 to take part in the next leg of the NBA Jam at Punjab University. His final stop will be Ludhiana on November 5-6 at the Guru Nanak Stadium during the Reliance Foundation Junior NBA City Finals, where he will work with standout young players and coaches from across Punjab.

The NBA Jam is a hugely popular college basketball and youth festival, which is being held in a record 16 Indian cities this year from August 18 till December 4. The Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA programme is a school-based programme - held in eight Indian cities this year - which focuses on inspiring youth to adopt a healthy, active lifestyle by integrating basketball into each participating school’s physical education curriculum.

"I understand that the popularity of basketball is growing rapidly in India and that more and more children are picking up the game," said Bowen of his upcoming visit, "I can't wait to experience this myself and help train and interact with the promising young talents the country has to offer."

Yannick Colaco, NBA India Managing Director, said, "We are committed to the growth of basketball in India and Bruce Bowen's visit is another step forward in this endeavour."

Bowen's story is as remarkable as it is inspirational. Undrafted coming of out Cal State Fullerton in 1993, Bowen was a struggling basketball pariah, spending four years as a professional playing in France and for various teams in the former CBA. The Miami Heat finally brought Bowen to the NBA in 1997. He played for the Heat, Celtics, 76ers, and was back in Miami again before finally finding his eventual NBA home in San Antonio in 2001. The rest was history: Bowen was a perfect fit for the Spurs and became a regular starter as the team won three championships over the next six years.

Of course, we can't mention Bowen without mention the dark side, can we? Just YouTube search his name for a further exploration of Bowen's infamous antics, including a video hilariously named, 'Dirty Player Mix'.

Welcome to India, Mr. Bowen: hopefully your defensive intensity, competitiveness, and championship pedigree is able to rub off on the next generation of basketball players at the grassroots level in India.

October 28, 2014

Return, Reload, Repeat: Predictions for all the drama ahead for the 2014-15 NBA Season

In many ways, there is no better day then Opening Night for an NBA season. For one day, everyone is equal. Every team – whether it’s the San Antonio Spurs or the Philadelphia 76ers – will start with the same record: 0-0 and LeBron James will be as close to an MVP award as Hasheem Thabeet. All slates are clean and all the canvases are empty. Starting tomorrow, every team and every player will get a chance to paint in their own destinies.

But once we look past the fog of change, refreshed outlooks, and optimism, what do we see? Here are my predictions for the 2014-15 NBA season, where I predict that – after the reloading and the returns – the final winner will be a repeat performance.

Click here to read the full feature.

October 27, 2014

Thiruvanthapuram (Women) and Ernakulum (Men) retain their titles at 59th Kerala State Basketball Championship

After six days of intense basketball action at the 59th Kerala State Basketball Championship for Men and Women in Aluva, the cream rose to the top once again. On the tournament's exciting final day at Aluva's temporarily-built Carmel Club indoor stadium, the reigning champs from last year - Thiruvanathapuram (Women) and Ernakulum (Men) - both defended their crowns to lift the Kerala state titles.

Thiruvanathapuram's Women's side were led by Indian international Jeena PS as well as rising star Stephy Nixon. After last year's triumph, Thiruvanathapuram met familiar foes in the final once more - Palakkad - marking it the third consecutive year that these two teams had played each other in the tournament's finale. The match was evenly contested in the first quarter but Jeena (23) Grima Merlin Varghese (16) did enough to help Thiruvanathapuram pull away to a massive 47-24 lead. Thiruvanathapuram held on to their comfortable advantage, and despite a 16-point performance by Palakkad's Neenumol PS, went on to win the game 58-47.

The Men's final was also a rematch in it's third year running, between Ernakulum and Thiruvanathapuram, and Ernakulum were bidding to win the contest for the third year in a row. But unlike last year, this was no cakewalk for the holding champs. Boosted by their young talents like Arjun GK (18) and Umesh Krishnan (16), Thiruvanathapuram took an early lead and were up by 38-31 at halftime. But Ernakulum chipped away at the advantage in the second half and made a spectacular fourth quarter comeback to take the lead and secure a 69-62 victory for a three-peat of titles. Shinumon Augustine and Monish Wilson scored 18 and 16 points respectively to help Ernakulum in their triumph.

Thiruvanathapuram's duo of Jeena PS (Women) and Umesh Krishnan (Men) were adjudged to be the best players of the tournament and handed the P S Viswappan Gold Medal. The award of most promising player - named in memorial of P Paremeswaran Pillai - was handed to Thiruvanathapuram's Grima Merlin Varghese (Women) and Ernakulum's Nikhil KR (Men).

This year's Lifetime Achievement award name din honour of PC Thomas (former Coach, international referee, and technical officer of Kerala State Sports Council) was handed by the Kerala Basketball Association to PP Varghese, the secretary of the association, in recognition for his achievement in the field of basketball.

Earlier in the day, Thrissur had no problem dominating Ernakulum en route to a 48-29 victory and the bronze medal in the Women's division. The Men's bronze medal game was won by Kollam, who defeated Palakkad 58-38 behind 16 points each by Rahul Krishnan and SS Deepu. Palakkad's Shabu Kumar also added 16 in the loss.

The best performers of the championship will comprise of the state team to represent Kerala at India's Senior National Basketball Championship.

October 21, 2014

Sacramento Kings cut Sim Bhullar - so where does the Indo-Canadian big man go now?

Sim Bhullar's last official moment with the Sacramento Kings was also his sweetest. After barely getting any action to showcase his skills in the Kings' first few preseason games, Bhullar - the first player of Indian-descent to be sign an NBA contract - was given some burn at the end of Sacramento's exhibition contest against Israeli squad Maccabi Haifa a few days ago. The Kings were already up by 30 points when Bhullar received a pass from Ray McCallum, pivoted in, and dropped an easy finger roll for his first two NBA preseason points. His basket drew the biggest cheer of the night and he was mobbed by many of his Kings' teammates in celebration. Later, Bhullar posted a photograph of his teammates celebrating the basket with him on his Instagram account with the caption 'Blessed'.

A photo posted by Sim Bhullar (@simbhullar32) on

Yes indeed, the Canada born Bhullar - a 7-foot-5 son of Punjabi parents - has been quite blessed. His hard work and hustle took him further than any desi ever before: to an (plus-plus-plus-size) official NBA jersey. Bhullar attended training camp with the Kings, took part in the preseason, travelled to China, scored a couple of points, and seemed to have made some good relationships within the team.

Alas, immediately after the game, it was announced that the 21-year-old's NBA dream was going to get a rude awakening. To cut their roster down to an NBA maximum 15 players, Bhullar was among three players waived by the Kings on Sunday night, along with Deonte Burton and David Wear. Bhullar immediately became an unrestricted free agent.

The decision to cut Bhullar wasn't wholly surprising: the undrafted big man was signed by the Kings and given a chance to prove himself as a backup to DeMarcus Cousins. The Kings happened to be owned by Vivek Ranadive, the first and only Indian owner of an NBA team. Ranadive has had great hopes in Bhullar's potential, particularly in the cultural impact the big man could have on new NBA fans in the growing Indian market. Unfortunately, no amount of 'Indianness' was going to make Bhullar a better player. The NBA is the toughest, most competitive basketball league in the world, where only the best of the best survive. Doubters believed that Bhullar was signed more for business reasons than for basketball. Unfortunately, with limited chance to prove himself in the preseason, Bhullar couldn't prove that his skillset was worth counting on. In the end, the Kings made it clear that cutting Bhullar from their final roster was a decision based on basketball, rather than business.

Fortunately, all is not lost for the big man. Sources close to Kings' beat writer James Ham and HoopsHype Canada both claim that Bhullar's career is far from over. The next step, it seems, is the NBA's D-League, and an opportunity with the Kings' affiliate squad Reno Bighorns.

“It’s always been part of the plan. He will join their D-league affiliate in Reno in two weeks," cited the HoopsHype Canada source. "They’ll be making sure he cuts weight and gets in better shape. Sim just needs to focus now and use the D league to develop."

The D-League seems like a more obvious destination for Bhullar for basketball reasons as it will give him a chance to further get into the desired NBA shape and earn more playing time to prove himself. Unfortunately for him, the Bighorns are known to have one of the most fast-paced teams in the D-League, and Bhullar isn't exactly suited for a run-and-gun full-court offense yet. Hopefully, he'll be able to find his fit, prove that he can dominate the D-League level, and earn the NBA call-up back to the Kings when the time is right.

When he was Beijing for the 'China Games' last week with the Kings, Bhullar told me that he can eventually help break a racial barrier and change the perception of Indians in the world of professional athletes. Despite his first cut from the Kings, it seems that he his still on track to doing just that - after all, he could still be the first player of Indian-descent in the D-League as well.

As for the NBA dreams - here's hoping that the sweet finger roll against Maccabi was just the first step and the Indo-Canadian has many more NBA points (and minutes, and rebounds, and blocks) scripted in his future.

October 20, 2014

IOB win first-ever Mulki Sunder Ram Shetty All India tournament in Bengaluru

From October 15-19, the city of Bengaluru hosted the inaugural Mulki Sunder Ram Shetty All India Basketball tournament, a men's championship that featured six of India's top club level or state teams. After five days of high-notch basketball, the tournament was settled with a comfortable final win by Indian Overseas Bank - IOB - against their Chennai city rivals ONGC on Sunday, October 19th at the Bharat Sports Union in Malleshwaram, Bengaluru.

After a neck-to-neck start to the final, IOB relied on the sharp-shooting abilities of India international Pratham Singh, who scored 25 points to help his team open up a double digit lead in the second half. IOB trailed in the first quarter, caught up before halftime, and then continued to ride their positive momentum en route to a 63-49 victory. The star-studded IOB squad, which also featured the likes of Amjyot Singh, Hareesh Koroth, Mihir Pandey, Aravind A., and Prasanna V., thus became the first claimants to the Mulki Sunder Ram Shetty winner's trophy.

Prasanna was named the tournament's MVP.

In a high-scoring encounter for third-place earlier on Sunday, host team Vijaya Bank relied on the efforts of Anil (26) and Arvind (24) to defeat the Karnataka State team 89-75. Visu led the way with 24 for Karnataka.

Only teams from three southern Indian states - Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala - took part in the inaugural iteration of this tournament. The participating teams were: ONGC, Vijaya Bank, Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB), Tamil Nadu, IOB, Cochin Customs, Chennai Customs, and Kerala.

Final Standings
  • IOB
  • ONGC
  • Vijaya Bank
Check out the complete coverage on Ekalavyas.com for more from this tournament.

October 19, 2014

Team India coach Scott Flemming is bringing individual player basketball development videos

Over the past two years, American basketball coach Scott Flemming has already earned his way into the hearts of hoop fans in India as the Head Coach of the senior national Men's team. Under Flemming, the team has taken significant steps forward and shown improved performances in international tournaments such as the Lusofonia Games and the FIBA Asia Cup.

But Flemming's job responsibilities don't just end with the 12 men that represent India at the senior level internationally; as the national head coach, he is also invested in helping improve the grassroots talent of young players in the country and also pass on some of his coaching advice to aspiring Indian trainers and coaches, too.

Working with the Basketball Federation of India (BFI), Flemming is bringing a series of videos teaching individual player development drills such as dribbling, footwork, shooting, and more. As they are uploaded, the videos will be available from the BFI's official website. Flemming has also received assistance from senior and junior Indian national players to produce the content for the drills in the development videos.

The first of this video series was released a couple of days ago, with a focus on ball handling.

"There will be 4 different areas focused on this series of player development drills." Flemming told me recently, "These drills will be a resource for players to include in their regular workouts to improve their skills. They will also be a resource for coaches to use to specifically work with individuals or small groups to improve their fundamentals. There are no plays or team concepts here. They are designed for skill development. These are not only my drills but many of them are used by some of the top coaches in the world."

"I trust our coaches and players will incorporate them in their practices and workouts," he added, "This player development series will continue with a focus on offensive separation moves, shooting (perimeter and low post) and defense."

As Flemming mentioned in the introduction to the first video, these drills can be worked on many times by an individual or by players in small groups. And he stressed the key of being consistent with the drills and doing them regularly - every single day.

So, too all young Indian players with hoop dreams, here is a great place to start: you can get access to similar coaching tips that our nation's top players are learning in the comfort of your own home. Just make sure to stay persistent. As Coach Flemming said in the video: "Preparation creates confidence," and India could sure do with many more confident basketball players to become stars of the future.