November 18, 2018

Indian star Amjyot Singh returns to OKC Blue of the NBA G-League for second season

Last year, Indian basketball star Amjyot Singh took a major step forward for ballers from his country by making a mark in the NBA G-League. Now, after a gruelling training camp, he has done it again. The OKC Blue, the team that Amjyot played for last season, has once again named him in their roster for the 2018-19 season.

Amjyot played 30 games for the Blue, averaging 2.7 pts and 1 reb per game in about 8 minutes of action per game last season. This year, Amjyot makes a comeback with the squad, making his debut for the Blue in their 140-121 win over the Sioux Falls earlier this week.

Earlier this year, the Basketball Federation of India banned Amjyot from the national team, controversially alleging conduct detrimental to the team. The return to G-League basketball is some relief for Amjyot, and hopefully, he can ball his way to redemption through the course of this season.

November 15, 2018

Sanjana Ramesh joins Northern Arizona University to become only the second Indian woman in NCAA D1 Basketball

Sanjana Ramesh (17), a talented all-rounder on the court, had been simmering in the Indian basketball circles for the past year. In 2017, she played a small but crucial role as India won Division B of the FIBA U16 Asia Championship, in front of her hometown fans in Bengaluru. Her potential made her one of the recruits for the NBA Academy's first-ever women's camp in Greater Noida this summer. And a few days after this camp, as she participated in the larger Basketball Without Borders event among some of the most gifted young players in Asia, Ramesh exploded to rise above the rest, winning camp MVP and putting the country on notice.

But she took her biggest leap yet this week, when news broke from across the pond that the Northern Arizona University's women's basketball programme - a team in the Big Sky Conference of NCAA's Division 1 in the USA - have handed one of their two scholarships to bring Ramesh to their programme. After signing the National Letter of Intent with the 'Lumberjacks', Ramesh has become only the second Indian-born player ever to receive basketball scholarship for a Division 1 team, after Kavita Akula at the Grand Canyon University.

On Wednesday, head coach Loree Payne announced Sanjana Ramesh and Emily Rodabaugh (Lynnwood, Washington State) as the newest Lumberjacks, after the pair signed their NLI. Both Ramesh and Rodabaugh will be incoming freshmen for the 2019-20 season.

"With only two scholarships, we had to get two impact players and we did," said Payne said. "We got two players who have the potential to impact our program right away. Both fit our style of play, can get up and down the floor and are very versatile. They can play on the perimeter and can play on the inside. We pride ourselves on player development, and there is no ceiling to how great these two players can be."

Ramesh, a 6'0" forward, averaged 6.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game for India's U16 squad at last years U16 FIBA Asia Championship. She made her senior team debut for India at the 2018 William Jones Cup in Chinese Taipei this summer, where she endured an anterior cruciate ligament tear to her knee. She had surgery on the knee in August.

"Sanjana is an athlete who has international and national experience in India," Payne said. "We’re trying to get our foot in the door in the international recruiting scene and for us, Sanjana is everything we’re looking for. She’s a joyful kid and very thankful for the opportunity to come here and she’s going to be a heck of a player. Her potential is limitless."

The Northern Arizona Universiy's main campus at the base of the San Francisco Peaks in Flagstaff, Arizona. Last season was coach Payne's first with NAU. The Lumberjacks finished the season with a 7-23 overall record, and their season came to an end in the first round of the Big Sky Championships to Portland State.

November 14, 2018

Hoopdarshan Episode 70: Palpreet Singh Brar on his G-League journey, BFI suspension, and more

It's Diwali season, and Hoopdarshan has brought the fireworks. In Episode 70 of the podcast, we feature special guest Palpreet Singh Brar, the first Indian to be drafted directly by the NBA G-League, an important member of the Indian national team, and the man embroiled around a controversy that got him suspended from Indian basketball this year. Brar bares his all, giving his side of the story, and providing more details of his incredible journey. Additionally, co-hosts Kaushik Lakshman and Karan Madhok catch up on other news in Indian basketball and the NBA.

Brar is from originally from Punjab's Sri Mukhtar Sahib district, and like many other Punjabi basketball prodigies, got his basketball training under the legendary late Dr. Subramanian of the Ludhiana Basketball Academy. After impressing for India's junior levels and national team, he won the NBA's ACG Jump Challenge in 2016 and went to train for the NBA's G-League. The same year, he became the first Indian to be drafted into the G-League by the Long Island Nets, before he was cut from the team. Brar has since been a regular for India's national team in important FIBA tournaments, played in the now-defunct UBA league, and in 3x3 competitions. Last year, Palpreet was handed a controversial 1-year ban by the Basketball Federation of India.

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!

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The Crossover Godfather himself, Tim Hardaway, is visiting Mumbai and Bengaluru for NBA India events

Before there was Allen Iverson, or Kyrie Irving, or Stephen Curry, Jamal Crawford, or Jason Williams, there was the godfather of killer crossovers, Tim Hardaway. Before the Golden State Warriors conquered the world with their Splash Triplets, there was the Run-TMC era. Before Wade and Shaq, and later, the Big Three bought championships to Miami, Hardaway led the team to a then franchise-best 61 victories. Before the time when the smallest guy on the court - the quick-footed, sharp-shooting, point guard - became an impossible to stop weapon, there was Hardaway, UTEP Two-Stepping his way to five NBA All Star appearances and becoming one of the most iconic guards of the 90s.

This week, Hardaway (52) will visit India to promote the growth of basketball and NBA India's recently announced McDonald’s NBA-themed promotion. and promote the growth of basketball. On Tuesday, November 13, Hardaway made his first stop in Mumbai to lead a clinic at the NBA Basketball School in Jamnabai Narsee, Juhu. On November 14, Hardaway will visit the McDonald’s restaurant on High Street Phoenix to meet with fan. On November 15, Hardaway will meet and greet with fans at the McDonald’s outlet in Lido Mall, Bengaluru. Hardaway will return to Mumbai for live television appearances on Sony Ten 1 and Sony Ten 3’s NBA wraparound shows on Nov. 17 to discuss the ongoing NBA season.

"Basketball has taken me to many places around the world and I’m excited to be in India to meet with the fans and do my part to further the development of the game," said Hardaway.

Hardaway was drafted 14th overall by the Golden State Warriors in the 1989 NBA Draft and named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 1990. He was part of the Warriors' iconic (but short-lived) crew "Run-TMC", that included him, Mitch Richmond, and Chris Mullin. His most productive season was with the Warriors in 1991-92, when he averaged a career-best 23.4 ppg. Hardaway was traded to the Miami Heat midseason in the 1995-96 season. In 1996-97, Hardaway finished a career-best fourth in NBA voting, selected to the All NBA First Team, and led Miami to 61 wins. Hardaway also played short stints with the Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, and Indiana Pacers, before retiring from the NBA in 2003. A five-time NBA All-Star, he averaged 17.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 8.2 assists in his career and was named to an All-NBA Team five times.

Hardaway returned to the NBA in a coaching role in 2014, and served as an assistant coach to the Detroit Pistons till the 2017-18 season. Hardaway's son, Tim Hardaway Jr., was drafted to the NBA in 2013 and is currently playing for the New York Knicks where he is the team's leading scorer.

Seriously, Senior Hardaway was legit. Here's proof:

November 12, 2018

45th Sub-Junior National Basketball Championship tips off in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh

For the next week, the centre of Indian basketball will be facing north. The top "mini" basketball teams in the country (under-14s) are in Kangra in Himachal Pradesh for the 45th Sub-Junior National Basketball Championship for Boys and Girls. The tournament, organised by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) and the Himachal Pradesh Basketball Association (HPBA) will be held at the Municipal Ground in Kangra from November 12-18, 2018.

Last year's champs in Didwana (Rajasthan)- Rajasthan Boys and Tamil Nadu Girls - are sure to be favourites again for this year's event. Other teams to keep an eye on include Chhattisgarh's contingent, Madhya Pradesh boys, and Maharashtra girls.

HP's Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur was the chief guest at the tournament's opening ceremony and inaugurated the event. Also present were Vipin Singh Parmar (Health Minister, Himachal Pradesh) and K. Govindraj (President, BFI).

November 4, 2018

China win 5th consecutive FIBA Asia U18 Women's title in Bengaluru; Undefeated India win Division B!

It was a tournament that repeated histories. For the third consecutive time, a major women's FIBA Asia tournament was held in Bengaluru, India. For the fifth straight time, China's U18 team raced to grab the the gold medals. And for the third time in various women's FIBA Asia events, India - starting in Division B - played a perfect tournament to win promotion to Division A.

The 2018 FIBA Asia U18 Championship for Women was held in Bengaluru, India, from October 28 - November 3, with games held at the city's Sree Kanteerava Stadium and the Koramangala Indoor Stadium. 16 of the top teams in the Asia and Oceania took part, divided into higher (Division A) and lower (Division B) sections. This was the third consecutive FIBA Asia Women's tournament to be held in Bengaluru, after last year's FIBA Asia Women's Cup and FIBA Asia U16 Championship for Women.

No matter the location, the team in-charge of proceedings was yet again China. China won their fifth consecutive FIBA Asia U18 Women's title win a win over their rivals Japan in the final on Saturday, 89-76. After a tight first half where both teams were tied at 38-each, China opened the third period with a 24-12 run that proved to be the difference. They held on to their lead in a high-scoring fourth to secure the victory. Rising Chinese basketball star Yuan Li scored 28 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists in the final, while Zhuo Ya Fang added 17. Chinatsu Umeki (20) and Layla Takehara (18) led the way for Japan in the loss.

Oceania's finest Australia won the third-place game on Saturday against Korea to secure the bronze medal. After leading just 54-49 at the end of the third quarter, Australia finished in style to run away with a 75-58 triumph. Duke University's Miela Goodchild (21) and rising star Nnenna Agnes Emma-Nnopu (17) led the way for Australia. Korea were led with 17-points a piece by Jihyun Park and Haeran Lee.

The top four teams - China, Japan, Australia, and Korea - qualified for 2018 FIBA U19 Women's World Cup.

Like they did in the previous two age division events in Bengaluru, hosts India entered this tournament in Division B. Once again, the man at the helm of the squad was Zoran Visic, the Serbian coach who has been managing India's women's basketball for the past few years at all levels. Despite home familiarity, however, India had reason for caution, missing several of their top players and fielding a captain - Pushpa Senthil Kumar - who was injured in the run-up to the tournament.

India were in Group A of Division B, along with Iran, Guam, and Singapore, and once the tournament got underway, they showed their class to devastate all opponents.

India's first game was probably their most nervous affair, against Iran. Leading 46-38 before the beginning of the final quarter, India made several costly errors and allowed Iran to come all the way back. Fortunately, a couple of smart plays in the last few minutes helped India hold their nerve and survive for a 73-65 win. Sreekala Rani led India with 19 while Iran's best player was Fatemeh Aghazadegan Ghazvini, who scored a game-high 22 points.

Once they got the first-game jitters out of the way, India were ruthless in their next contest, against the inexperienced Guam. Srishti Suren had 19 points and 9 rebounds to lead six players in double-digits for India in the 107-42 victory.

It was more of the same in India's final group stage game against Singapore. India started off with a 20-3 first quarter run that immediately deflated their opponents. Led by Gulabsha Ali's 21 off the bench, India ran away to a 79-49 win to top their group.

In the Division B semi-final, India were matched up against Group B runners-up Hong Kong. Once again, India looked confident, and this time, used a defensively throttling third quarter run (17-2) to shut down their opponents. Harshitha Kelttira Bopaiah was immense with 18 points and 16 rebounds to help India win, 83-38.

India faced a familiar foe - Kazakhstan - in the final, in what was supposed to be a closer matchup. But right from the start, Visic's squad ensured that they wouldn't allow any space for mistakes. India led 32-18 after the first half and pushed the lead to 54-30 after three quarters. The final score read 68-45 as India celebrated their Division B victory. Bopaiah, who definitely emerged as the team's knockout stage MVP, finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds in the victory.

India finished the tournament a perfect 5-0, winning each game with an average margin of 34.2 points. The victory ensured that India will be promoted to Division A when the next iteration of this tournament comes around in two more years.

India and Visic have a lot to be proud of after this tournament, particularly the impressive performances by the Bopaiah, who led the team in both scoring (14.8 ppg) and rebounds (11.2 rpg). Point guard Dharshani Thirunavukkarasu showed maturity beyond her years in shepherding the squad and averaging 10.8 points and 4 assists per game. Other consistent performers for the team included Srishti Suren and Ishwarya Janardhanan, who led the squad in minutes played and assists (6.0 apg).

This victory again highlighted the strange space occupied by India's Women's basketball: too good for Division B; too terrible for Division A. Hopefully, all three promoted squads (Seniors, U16, U18) can find Division A success in the next tournaments.

FIBA Asia U18 Championship for Women - Final Standings
  • 1. China
  • 2. Japan
  • 3. Australia
  • 4. Korea

October 28, 2018

India hope to defend home court at 2018 FIBA U18 Women's Asia Championship: Roster, Schedule, and Preview

Over the past year or so, Bengaluru has been a sort of lucky charm for India's Women's basketball. Last year, both India's Senior and U16 Women's squads played in their respective FIBA Asia tournaments hosted in the city. And each time - the seniors in July and the Youth players in October - India started in the lower Division B and won all of their matchups to earn promotion to Division A.

Now, the U18 squad find themselves in a similar predicament. Bengaluru. Division B. A FIBA Asia Championship. Even the head coach - Zoran Visic - is the same. And India will be hoping that the culmination of these factors will yield another positive result, another promotion, and finally produce some good news after a cold, barren period in Indian basketball.

192 of Asia and Oceania's finest junior women cagers, across 16 teams, are set to take centre stage in the 2018 FIBA U18 Women's Asia Championship in Bengaluru from October 28 to November 3. The teams are divided into the higher Division A and the lower Division B. The former teams - plus India - will play their games in the showcase Sree Kanteerava Stadium in the city, while the rest of Division B will be at the Koramangala Indoor Stadium.

All eyes will be on China at the top, who have won four straight U18 FIBA Asia Women's titles and are aiming for a five-peat. This team around, however, they will have stiff challenge from Oceania's entrants Australia and New Zealand. Australia will definitely be favourites as they feature a similar squad to the won that won the U17 FIBA World Championship. Other teams to watch will include Japan and Korea, too.

Participating Teams

Division A
  • Group A: Australia, Korea, Chinese Taipei, Indonesia.
  • Group B: China, Japan, New Zealand, Malaysia.

Division B
  • Group A: India, Singapore, Guam, Iran.
  • Group B: Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, Syria, Samoa.

Led by Zoran Visic, India have reason for caution even as hosts in their lower division. The team is missing two of its best players to injury, Vaishnavi Yadav and Sanjana Ramesh. Additionally, the captain of the current team, Pushpa Senthil Kumar, is also recovering from injury and will likely be a game-time decision for India's opening match. India will be hoping that a healthy Pushpa, along with other young players will international experience like Sreekala Rani, Sushantika Chakravortty, and Ann Mary Zachariah will be able to lift the team to promotion.

India's Roster
  • Arya Achuta Sreeramaneni
  • Sakshi Sharma
  • Dharshini Thirunavukkarasu
  • Harshitha Kelttira Bopaiah
  • Pushpa Senthil Kumar - captain
  • Srishti Suren
  • Ishwarya Janardhanan
  • Sreekala Rani
  • Gulabsha Ali
  • Ann Mary Zachariah
  • Anumaria Chenganamattathil
  • Sushantika Chakravortty
  • Head Coach: Zoran Visic
  • Assistant Coach: Thankachan Mulackal Chacko
  • Assistant Coach: Priyanka Bhandari

Even with all the injuries, home court and recent experience of a similar U16 team should make India favourites in the division. India were in Division A at the 2016 version of this championship and ended winless to be relegated. Visic will hope that his influence can help a bounce back. However, India will have difficulty preparing for their opponents, featuring a little-seen Iran squad, newcomers Guam, and Singapore in their group.

India's Preliminary Round Schedule - all timings IST
  • October 28 - India vs. Iran - 8 PM
  • October 29 - Guam vs. India - 8 PM
  • October 30 - India vs. Singapore - 8 PM

If India are able to get through this group (and ideally, it should be easy for them to do so), their biggest threat to winning the division will probably come through from a strong Kazakhstan squad in Group B. On Friday, the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) announced a cash prize of ₹10 lakh for the team if it finishes atop Division B.

The top four teams from Division A will grab the spots for the 2019 FIBA U19 Women's World Cup. All Division A games and India games will be live streamed on FIBA’s social media channels. The BFI has announced free entry to the Sree Kanteerava and the Koramangala stadiums for the group stage!