December 31, 2013

Indian Basketball Legend & Arjuna award winner Khushi Ram passes away

The man who was once called The Magician of Basketball in India, the legendary Khushi Ram, passed away at age 77 on December 29, 2013. Ram will go down in history as one of the India's greatest ever basketball players and - at his time - one of the top talents in all of Asia. A former captain of India's national Men's team, Kumar was handed with the Arjuna Award in 1967.

While we live in a time when basketball players in India rarely get the respect and admiration that the sport deserves, Ram was one of the leaders of an era when Indian basketball was on the rise. Ram was an integral part of India's national team from 1964-72, and captained India in 1965 at their first ever appearance at the Asian Basketball Confederation Championship (now known as the FIBA Asia Championship) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. India finished 7th at the tournament. He was the highest scorer at the championship (the only Indian at the Senior Men's level to be the tournament's highest scorer). In the next two Asian Championships in Seoul (Korea) and Bangkok (Thailand), he was the tournament's second and third highest scorer respectively.

Ram was also the father of another Indian basketball legend, the Dhyan Chand Award Winner Ram Kumar, and of the late Asok Kumar.

Ram was born in Jhamri village in Rohtak district in Haryana on August 7, 1936. His interest for basketball began at age 14 when he joined the Delhi-based Army unit Rajputana Rifles as a Boy Recruit in 1950. He made his debut as a youth player at the National Basketball Championship in 1952 representing the Armed Forces team. From a young age, he was known for his shooting ability - which helped him become an unstoppable scorer for the course of his career - and for his high IQ and sense of the game.

From 1958-68, Ram was associated with the Army. The Armed Force team won India's National Basketball title 10 consecutive years, with Ram leading the helm several times as the tournament's best player. In 1969, he moved to Kota (Rajasthan) to join Shri Ram Rayons. He represented the state of Rajasthan for the next five years in National Basketball Championships.

Ram's fame was at its height in 1970, when he dominated at the 10th Anniversary Celebrations Championship in Manila and scoring 43 points (highest by an Indian in an international) against the hosts Philippines.

After announcing his retirement he took over as the coach of Shri Ram Rayons Basketball team in 1976 and also coached Rajasthan's Basketball team for many years. Under his helm, Shri Ram Rayons became one of the best teams in India and won many All India tournaments.

Even until his final years, Ram was coaching basketball to students at the Modern School in Kota.

We wave goodbye to a pioneer of Indian Basketball, one of the greats to have paved the way for the path that all of today's players now follow. Ram received a lot of tributes for his achievements in his lifetime, but the most lasting tribute to his memory would be a concentrated effort by the basketball fraternity in the country to help India reach it's old glories again, and perhaps even shoot for a higher level than ever before.

December 28, 2013

Sacramento Kings sign partnership with Indian company Krrish Group & Jimboy's Tacos

NBA, India, and Tacos.

So get your head around this announcement. Sacramento Kings - the first NBA team owned by an Indian-born (Vivek Ranadive) - have signed a deal with Indian real-estate company the Krrish Group and Sacramento-based Mexican food chain, Jimboy's Tacos. The Krrish Group will open multiple franchises of Jimboy's Tacos in India. And the Kings will promote this relationship through in-arena, broadcast, and digital advertising. Win, win, win?

So here are the points of interest:

- Ranadive has made his intentions very clear in the past to expand the Kings' business relationships with India, and on the Kings' opening night this season, displayed a bonanza of Shaq-cricketing, cheerleader-Bollywooding, and curry concession-eating action. But this is their first official business partnership with an Indian company. "I am thrilled that The Krrish Group shares our global vision and sees the economic potential of a partnership with the Kings," said Ranadive. "Given the increasing popularity of basketball and the Kings in India, we hope that this will be the first of many important business partnerships from the region. As we strive to become India's home team, we are proud to call The Krrish Group and Jimboy’s Tacos our partners."

- The Kings aren't finished. The press release for this news made it clear that they'll be announcing several more business partnerships with India next season.

- Jimboy's Tacos who? The relatively small taco company might be known in certain parts of Sacramento, but none of my Southern California brethren had ever heard of them. Still, their website promises that they were voted "Best Taco" by Sacramento Magazine.

- No Del Taco, no El Pollo Loco, no Loteria. Even Taco Bell only has two outlets in India (I think), both in Bangalore. Jimboy's are somehow going to become the biggest American franchise of Mexican food in India. Vivek Ranadive is a valuable friend. "We are excited to be part of Vivek (Ranadive]'s 3.0 initiative as we begin our national and international expansion," said Karen Knudson Freeman, CEO of Jimboy’s Tacos.

- Who are the Krrish Group, apart from being a company named after a horrible Bollywood superhero franchise? They are a real-estate company, originally founded in 1983 as a liquor manufacturers. They are dynamic real-estate players in the Delhi-NCR region, are building skyscrapers in Sri Lanka, and own a team in India's badminton league.

- "The Indian consumer and retail market has literally been exploding during the last 10 years and the trend is projected to continue for many years to come, with the restaurant sector projected to grow more than double in the next 5 years," said Prakhar Gupta, Vice President of Business Development for The Krrish Group. "With a dynamic and fast growing business portfolio, we see our partnership with Jimboy’s and the Kings as a perfect opportunity."

Since purchasing the Kings earlier this year, Ranadive has directed a business philosophy coined "NBA 3.0," which focuses on investments in technology, globalization and deep community partnerships.

This is just the first step. Both Sacramento Kings fans and Indians should start getting more familiar with each other: there's going to be a lot more force-fed into this unlikely relationship in the coming years.

Speaking of force-feeding, DeMarcus Cousins must be really looking forward to this. Something tells me that he would be the perfect brand ambassador for all types of tacos.

December 27, 2013

Ahmedabad to host 2014 Federation Cup Basketball Championship

9 men's teams and 9 women's senior basketball teams from across India will face off against each other at the 28th Federation Cup National Basketball Championship for Men & Women, scheduled to be held in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, from January 4-9, 2013. The Federation Cup pits India's most successful recent clubs or states against each other. Therefore, in the Men's division, the participating teams will be chosen from the best club sides from India's top ranking states in the previous National Basketball Championship, while the Women's teams will be represented by the top rankings states or railway units themselves.

This year, the defending champions ONGC (Men) and Tamil Nadu (Women) will be looking to defend their titles in Ahmedabad, after winning last year's Federation Cup trophies in Bangalore. The tournament will be organized by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) and IMG-Reliance, in conjunction with the Gujarat Basketball Association. Matches are scheduled to be held at the YMCA International Center in Ahmedabad.

Participating Teams

Men: ONGC (Uttarakhand), Bhilai Steel Plant (Chhattisgarh), Bhavnagar District (Gujarat), Northeast Frontier Railway, Central Excise (Kerala), Border Security Force (Punjab), District Sikar (Rajasthan), Army Red (Services), India Overseas Bank (Tamil Nadu).

Women: Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Southern Railway, Punjab, Kerala, Karnataka, Gujarat, Delhi, Chhattisgarh.

The Federation Cup, which began in 1984, is held annually and is the most coveted tournament in the BFI Calendar for basketball clubs/state teams throughout India. Roopam Sharma, the CEO of the BFI said, "I am pleased to announce that the 28th Federation Cup National Basketball Championship for Men & Women will be held in Ahmedabad. The city has been an excellent host in the past, and BFI is thankful to Gujarat Basketball Association for rendering its support in hosting the event this year. Federation Cup National Basketball Championship continues to be one of the most competitive basketball tournaments in India at the highest level and has been growing year after year."

The winner will take home Rs 1 lakh while the first and second runners-up will receive Rs 75000 and Rs 50000, respectively.

December 26, 2013

Rajasthan's Junior Basketball player raped; accused held

Unless you've lived under a rock, you've probably heard of the disturbing rise of news reported on sexual assaults in New Delhi and across India over the past year. As a matter of fact, even though the international concern on the treatment of women in India has spiked up since the 'Nirbhaya' case, women across the country have been victimized from birth to death for as long as civilization itself.

This is a sports blog, and no matter my strong personal feelings on the subject, I have long resisted the urge to speak about certain social/political injustices in my writing or through my social media. But sometimes, these injustices are inescapable even in our relatively sheltered sports world.

On November 15, a 16-year-old national-level basketball player, who is a member of Rajasthan's state basketball team and represented the state at the 2010 Sub-Junior National Basketball Championship, was raped in the city of Chittorgarh in South-East Rajasthan. The victim's family filed an FIR at the Sadar police station in the city about the incident on November 20.

The accused had absconded, but finally, there has been some good news trickling in about the case. The Times of India reported that Chittorgarh police arrested the accused on December 24, nearly six weeks after the crime. The accused was named Yogesh Sharma, an employee at ICICI bank, who, according to Rediff News, had been stalking her for the past three years. About two weeks ago, the local police were accused of being too lax to follow up on the case because they were too "busy with local elections." Sharma has since been in police custody and will soon appear in court.

This is a stark reminder that women in India - hell, women in a lot of other countries around the world - are unsafe, no matter what path they choose in their life. In this case, unfortunately, the life of a promising young basketball player was effected. Looking ahead, I hope that both men and women in the basketball fraternity across the country show sensitivity towards the victim and other young women. I don't know any further details of this case, but I look forward to fair justice being imparted to the accused to provide some sense of closure - no matter how small it may seem - to the victim. Sometimes, the best closure may be found back the happy place for these young athletes - the basketball court itself.

December 23, 2013

Orlando Magic to host 2nd 'India Day' on January 19th

Hey, if we Indians can't make our way into the NBA with basketball talent, let's make sure to do it culture.

The Orlando Magic, joining hands with the Indian American Chamber of Commerce (IACC), will host the second annual 'India Day' programme at Orlando's home game against the Boston Celtics on January 19th. The event follows the success of the Magic's India Day last season and the growing interest of NBA teams to reach out to fans of Indian origin (and perhaps to Indians back home, too).

Orlando's interest into the Indian community and culture follows the three years of 'Bollywood Nights' that were held the Golden State Warriors when Vivek Ranadive was their minority owner. Ranadive since went on to become the first Indian-born majority owner in the NBA when he purchased the Sacramento Kings and has brought all kinds of India swag to Sac-Town, from Shaq playing cricket to cheerleaders regularly performing Bollywood dance numbers.

The Magic could certainly do with some distractions: they currently stand at the bottom of the Southeast division, but at least have the piece in Aaron Afflalo, Victor Oladipo, and Nikola Vucevic (plus a high pick in next year's loaded draft) to build something interesting for the future.

This season's India Day in Orlando will feature an appearance by 2014 Miss American Nina Davuluri, the Indian-American from New York, who unfortunately become more famous for receiving racist backlash than for actually winning a beauty pageant. Davuluri will share the story of her rise to fame and her platform on racial diversity with Magic fans. There will also be a street festival that will include Henna tattoo artists, Indian dances and Indian cuisine.

Dr. Amish M. Parikh, an Orlando resident and one of the organizers of the event, said, "We were encouraged last year that we were able to bring everybody together on one day and celebrate the Indian American community. And it was a sporting event that brought all of us together. "Sports create a venue where we can all enjoy a good time and be happy and sad together. We’re excited that the Magic are our local sports team that we can all rally around."

The IACC will donate 1,000 tickets of the game to nonprofit organizations throughout Central Florida, up from 600 last year. There will also be a special ticket offer (call 407-916-2679) and a street festival that will include Henna tattoo artists, Indian dances and Indian cuisine.

The Magic's website says that the success in Orlando last year - which featured a street festival and Bollywood-dancing cheerleaders - also caught the eye of teams around the NBA and several other India Nights are being planned this season throughout in the league.

Now if only one of them can invite Aziz Ansari for his views on cultural diversity, Calvin Cambridge, and saris. He might be a Knicks fan, too.

December 22, 2013

Bangalore's 2013-14 BFI-IMG Reliance School Basketball League tips off

After getting a successful kick-start in various cities around the league, the modified and expanded version of the 2014-14 BFI-IMG Reliance School Basketball League tipped off in Bangalore on December 18th. Bangalore is the latest stop of the ongoing league, which is being held in eight Indian cities, including Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Ludhiana, Indore, and Chennai.

Like every other city, Bangalore is fielding 20 total school teams in the league - 10 each in the boys' and girls' sections respectively.

Participating Teams


Group A: Vidyaniketan School, New Horizon Public School, National Public School (Rajaji Nagar), Sri Kumaran's Children's Home, Kendriya Vidyalaya.
Group B: Bishop Cotton's School, Delhi Public School (South), Mallaya Adithi International School, St. Joseph’s Indian High School, Shantiniketan High School.


Group A: Bishop Cotton's School, Kendriya Vidyalaya, Mary Immaculate High School, Stella Maris High School, PPEC Indira Nagar.
Group B: Sri Kumaran's Children's Home, Mallaya Adithi International School, National Public School (Rajaji Nagar), Nirmala Rani High School, Carmel Convent High School.

According to the BFI, one of the main goals of the School League is to start the first pan-India League, as opposed to the current system of competition - tournaments. BFI and IMG Reliance have put aside money for each participating School for refurbishments of their home courts. With the help of the State Basketball Association, BFI and IMG Reliance will be hoping that this initiative will incentivize schools to invest in basketball.

December 21, 2013

BFI, FIBA, & NBA get together to organize basketball coaching certification courses across India

To support the great hall of basketball in India, the game needs the strongest pillars to support it. And three of those pillars - the Basketball Federation of India (BFI), the NBA, and FIBA, have joined hands between December 2013 - February 2014 to bring expert training to India's most influential basketball coaches. These efforts will help build a link so the chosen coaches can then pass on to other coaches and young players across the country, thus lifting the quality of the game nationwide.

120 Indian coaches from four zones around the country will receive the FIBA Level 1 Coaching Certification as well as BFI Certification, thus enriching their knowledge of teaching fundamentals to the youth. The coaches were selected strategically based on the curriculum's content. The curriculum is based on FIBA's “Basketball for Young Players” book & CD for U13-U18 age players.

During the clinics in each zone, experts from FIBA, the BFI, and the NBA are pitting their talents together. FIBA's experienced coaching instructor Nelson Isley and NBA-India's Senior Director of Basketball Operations Troy Justice are conducting the FIBA Level 1 Coaching Certification programme. The BFI's head coaches for India's Senior Men's and Women's team - the American Scott Flemming and the Spaniard Francisco Garcia - will be conducting the BFI Certification Programme.

Representing India's West Zone, the first of the clinics was held in Mumbai - at Don Bosco High School, Matunga - from December 8-14, 2013. New Delhi is currently hosting the courses for the North Zone at the KD Jadhav Indoor Hall from 16-22 December 2013.

In February 2014, cities from India's South and East zones will be chosen to host the certification courses, too - dates and cities are yet to be officially announced.

Speaking from the Coaches Certification programme in New Delhi, FIBA Coaching Instructor Nelson Isley said, “I am very satisfied with the attendance of the Indian coaches at the clinic. They have shown a lot of interest and are open to learning new basketball coaching techniques. It has been a very positive experience for me in India.”

Isley has been associated with FIBA since 2000. He has over 4 decades of coaching experience and conducting national development programmes, and has taught FIBA coaching clinics in Iceland, Mozambique, Swaziland, Nicaragua, Guatamala, Haiti, Spain, Chile, Bolivia, England, Zimbabwe, El Salvador, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Maldives, and Canada among other countries.

Flemming has been Head Coach of India's National Basketball Men's Team for a year. Prior to that, he was Assistant Coach of the Texas Legends in the NBA Development League. Garcia has been India's Women's National team coach for six months, and has 22 years of coaching experience across clubs in various European countries. Justice has spent several years in India spearheading NBA's programmes on grassroots level with coaching clinics, tournaments, and much more.

December 18, 2013

WNBA superstar Swin Cash is in India

Swin Cash of the Chicago Sky, who is one of the marquee players of the WNBA over the past decade and a superstar of women's basketball, is in India. Cash, who has won several team and individual accolades through her 11 year WNBA career, will be spending three days in Mumbai while promoting basketball at the grassroots level, especially amongst young girls.

Cash is amongst a very rare number of players to have had success at all three major levels - NCAA, WNBA, and Olympics. She won two NCAA Women's Division 1 Championships with the University of Connecticut in 2000 and 2002. She has won two Olympic gold medals with the US Basketball Team, three WNBA titles with her previous teams (Detroit Shock and Seattle Storm), a FIBA World Championship, and capped it all off with four visits to the WNBA All Star Game.

Cash was drafted by the Shock back in 2002, with whom she played for five years, winning two championships. She joined the Seattle Storm in 2008 and led them to a championship in 2010. In 2012, she was part of a blockbuster trade sending her to the Chicago Sky to play alongside fellow superstar Sylvia Fowles.

According to the Times of India, Cash will be helping to spread grassroots awareness for basketball in India during her visit, which lasts till December 20, 2013. Her presence will also help to support the growth of the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA programme in the country. On December 18th she also appeared live on Radio 1 in Mumbai.

After an exciting summer that featured Chris Bosh's visit to India, it's refreshing to see a Women's superstar visit the country in a way to support girls' basketball players and provide them with a role model to aspire to as well.

December 9, 2013

Ernakulum (Men) & Thiruvanathapuram (Women) win 58th Kerala State Basketball Championship

After five days of exciting basketball action, the finale of the 58th Kerala State Basketball Championship came down to a few familiar faces. On December 8, the Sree Kerala Varma College in Thrissur hosted a repeat of both the Men's and Women's Finals from last year. In the Men's competition, Ernakulum repeated their triumph from last season by thumping Thiruvanathapuram en route to a 89-48 win. Thiruvanathapuram were able to save some face in the Women's division though, when last year's losing side defeated reigning champs Palakkad 71-54 to snatch the gold medals.

Teams from 14 districts from Kerala battled for the honors in the Men's section and 12 teams in the Women's division at the state championship. The tournament was organized by the Kerala Basketball Association under the auspices of the Thrissur District Basketball Association.

Thiruvanathapuram's Women's team - led by India internationals Jenna PS and Stephy Nixon - showed no trouble getting some revenge on last year's loss for their big victory. Jeena was fearless throughout, leading the way with 37 points. Neenumol PS and Liji Mol of Palakkad added 18 and 17 points respectively in the loss.

An onslaught of offense led by Abhilash (27) and Monish Wilson (20) led Ernakulum to a repeat title victory over Thiruvanathapuram, who were paced by Vijobi Vakkachan's 19 points.

Earlier in the day, Kannur's Women side secured third place in the championship with a close win over Kottayam, 68-63. Premi P. Lal had an impressive 32 point outing for the victors, while Kottayam were led by young star Poojamol KS (19) and Minnu Marium (17). In the high-scoring men's third-place game, Pathanamthitta - led by Nicewin M (28) and Edwin Irvin (19) - outlasted Kottayam to score a 86-78 win. Akhil Mathew Sunny had a strong 30 point outing for the losing side.

The best performers of the championship will comprise of the state team to represent Kerala at India's Senior National Basketball Championship, slated for February 2014.

December 5, 2013

Time for the NBA to end the Conference/Division divide

This year, the balance of power between the West and the East is simply bordering on ridiculousness. 10 teams in the West have a winning record so far, while the East only boast of two. It's time for the NBA to be done with conferences and divisions altogether. Teams should play each other an equal number of times all season, without division or conference biases. Rank playoff spots based on record alone, and not conference or division. It’s time to reward excellence, not mediocrity.

Click here to read full feature.

December 4, 2013

With or Without You: Some teams suffer without their star players – others are better off without them

This feature was first published in the 120th edition (2013 - No. 23) of SLAM China magazine. Here is my original English version of the story.

Rewind back to the 1999 NBA Playoffs. Even on hobbled feet, Patrick Ewing is able to average 17 points and nearly 10 rebounds a game to be the best player of a mediocre New York Knicks team. The Knicks end the season 8th in the East, but once the playoffs begin, they surprise the world by winning the first two rounds to set up a Conference Finals matchup against the Indiana Pacers. Unfortunately, an Achilles tear to Ewing in Game 2 rules him out for the rest of the playoffs, and thus ends New York’s championship aspirations.

And then, miracles happen. Without their dominant big man in the middle, the Knicks shift to small ball, and share the responsibilities of the one missing centerpiece amongst the rest of their contributors. Allan Houston, Latrell Sprewell, Larry Johnson, Marcus Camby, and the rest step up to defeat the heavily-favoured Pacers three times over the next four games. The Knicks become the first ever eighth-seed to make the Finals. The fairytale came to an end here though, because the Twin Towers of Duncan and Robinson prove to be too much for New York’s thin frontline to handle.

Still, the Knicks making an addition by subtraction – losing Ewing and then actually improving their team-play – made a lasting impression on a popular American sports journalist. And thus, Bill Simmons created the ‘Ewing Theory’.

Nearly 12 years later, the Knicks would play a major part in a new example of the Ewing Theory. The Nuggets traded their All Star Carmelo Anthony to New York in return for role players. As it turned out, the Anthony-less Nuggets were suddenly happier without him, and without a ball-dominating scorer, they turned a team full of self-less no-names into big winners.

The NBA is a superstar-driven league, and having a star player to lead the offense is almost always better than not having one. But every once in a while, the Ewing Theory comes into action, and teams are able to find chemistry and balance in the absence of a star more than they did in his presence.

After last season’s injury crisis – where Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Amar’e Stoudemire, Danny Granger, David Lee, Danilo Gallinari, Andrew Bynum, and many more missed valuable time – teams around the league had to reconfigure their systems to survive. This season, many players have made a return back to action, while there are some superstars still recovering on the sidelines. But faint remnants of the original Ewing Theory continue to this day, and many teams have found a way to be more than competitive in doing more with less.

The biggest example of that this season – and the last – have been the Indiana Pacers. For five consecutive years, Granger was the Pacers’ leading scorer, and in the process, he won recognition as an All Star and the league’s Most Improved Player. But patellar tendinosis limited Granger to only five games in the 2012-13 season. Instead of folding without him, the Pacers moved Paul George to his small forward position and gave the starting shooting guard slot to Lance Stephenson. Granger’s absence became George’s opportunity, as the youngster developed into a superstar talent and helped the Pacers to their best post-season performance in over a decade. Granger’s injury problems have carried into the new season, but his absence didn’t hurt the team at all: the Pacers started off as the hottest squad in the NBA and George developed into an early MVP candidate.

Last season, Chicago’s former MVP Derrick Rose missed the entire year, leaving the Bulls without their most consistent scoring option. Without Rose, they weren’t able to match their achievement to finish with the league’s best record again like in the previous two seasons, but they weren’t any slouches, either. The core group of Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, and Carlos Boozer kept the Bulls’ ship steady throughout the regular season. In the playoffs, Chicago were able to survive more injury troubles and rely on unexpected heroics from Nate Robinson and Jimmy Butler to make it into the Second Round and impress basketball fans everywhere. Rose returned to Bulls this season, but the team struggled to find their cohesiveness with him in the starting lineup and both team and player suffered from a slow start. Rose suffered from early hiccups, and so the team did, too. Now, he's set to miss another season to a different injury.

The Warriors lost All Star David Lee at the beginning of the playoffs last season, but his absence provided Coach Mark Jackson to become smaller, moving Harrison Barnes to the power forward position, and help upset the higher-seeded Nuggets in the first round. Despite their Second Round loss, the team had done enough to show that their roster was deep enough to survive the loss of their big man and still remain strong. Lee has returned to the team this season, and in this case, they have found a way to seamlessly fit him back into their successful offensive plans.

For the surprising Philadelphia 76ers, it must feel like a heavy burden has been lifted. Although Andrew Bynum never played a single game in the 76ers uniform, he was a part of the team all of last year, and unfortunately, his injury and upcoming free agency proved to be more of a distraction than a positive force for his teammates. With Bynum bolting for Cleveland this offseason, Philly were able to get more focused about their future. No more were they tied down to planning around their big man. Instead a young, hungry group of stars – led by Michael Carter-Williams – have been able to give the squad a refreshing change of direction.

Despite all the examples above, there is still no replacement in the league for a game-changing superstar to lift the fortunes of a franchise. The explosive comebacks of Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook have helped get the Timberwolves and the Thunder back on track. And there is no doubt that fans of the Lakers and the Celtics will be counting days until their All Star guards – Kobe Bryant and Rajon Rondo – can suit up to ignite their teams again.

Losing a superstar in the NBA can be brutal. And most teams would agree that it’s better to have found a superstar and lost him, than not to have found him at all. But ‘Ewing Theory’ suggests that there is some hope for every team: It takes a brilliant coach, a deep and motivated supporting cast of players, and a good dose of healthy team chemistry. And every once in a while, the absence of a star can equate to the presence of team success.

December 3, 2013

BFI to Conduct Training Camp for U14 Boys and Girls in Gujarat

The Basketball Federation of India (BFI) has announced the names of 25 boys and 25 girls as probables to attend an under-14 training camp at the SAI Training Center in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. The camp is being held from December 2-21, 2013.

The players have been chosen based on their performances at the 40th Sub-Junior National Basketball Championship back in August, which was held in Bihar. This will be the first training camp of the session for the under-14s, and will aid to select India's national sub-junior teams for future invitational basketball tournaments.

Head Coaches PC Anthony and Sushil Kumar will run the boys' and girls' camps respectively, with guidance from India's foreign senior team coaches Scott Flemming and Francisco Garcia.

List of probables

  • Kunal Choudhary (Andhra Pradesh)
  • Manish Kumar (Andhra Pradesh)
  • Raunak Kumar (Bihar)
  • Binod Rajak (Chhattisgarh)
  • Saif Ali Khan (Chhattisgarh)
  • Akash Singh (Chhattisgarh)
  • Virender (Chhattisgarh)
  • Md. Salim Ali (Chhattisgarh)
  • Abhay Verma (Chhattisgarh)
  • Attaul Hussain (Jharkhand)
  • Md. Mahtab Alam (Jharkhand)
  • Rahul Sona (Jharkhand)
  • Sejin Mathew (Kerala)
  • Devansh Sapre (Madhya Pradesh)
  • Himanshu Singh Bist (Madhya Pradesh)
  • Sameer Mohd. (Madhya Pradesh)
  • SK Riaz (Odisha)
  • Aman Deep Singh (Punjab)
  • Gagandeep Singh (Punjab)
  • Ashish Trivedi (Rajasthan)
  • Md. Ashfak (Rajasthan)
  • Ashish Singh Bisht (Rajasthan)
  • K Tamil Vanan (Tamil Nadu)
  • L Karna (Tamil Nadu)
  • Akshay Sharma (Uttar Pradesh)
  • Head Coach: PC Anthony
  • Coach: Bharat Bhushan
  • Senior Coach: Scott Flemming
  • Yamini Singh (Assam)
  • G Meenakshi Reddy (Andhra Pradesh)
  • Gulabsha Ali (Chhattisgarh)
  • Manisha (Chhattisgarh)
  • Mahima Bhardwaj (Chhattisgarh)
  • M Laxmi Sravanthi (Chhattisgarh)
  • Vimla Ekka (Chhattisgarh)
  • Sushantika Chakravortty (Delhi)
  • Shubham Ohlan (Delhi)
  • Pallavi Negi (Himachal Pradesh)
  • Anagha N (Karnataka)
  • Festy P Jose (Kerala)
  • Isha Chouhan (Madhya Pradesh)
  • Divyani Gangwal (Madhya Pradesh)
  • Shrankhala Jain (Madhya Pradesh)
  • Neha Vinod Shahu (Maharashtra)
  • Sakshi Yashwant Kotian (Maharashtra)
  • Durga Alhad Dharmadhikari (Maharashtra)
  • Prabhjot Kaur (Punjab)
  • Sakshi Sharma (Punjab)
  • Annie Sheoran (Rajasthan)
  • Srishti Suren (Tamil Nadu)
  • Ishwarya J (Tamil Nadu)
  • Vaishnavi Yadav (Uttar Pradesh)
  • Liza Deb (West Bengal)
  • Head Coach: Sushil Kumar
  • Coach: Jeena Jacharian
  • Senior Coach: Francisco Garcia

December 2, 2013

Kerala's 58th Senior State Basketball Championship to tip off in Thrissur

The 58th Kerala State Senior Basketball Championship is set to be held at the Sree Kerala Varma College in Thrissur from December 3-8, 2013. The best performers of the championship will comprise of the state team to represent Kerala at India's Senior National Basketball Championship, slated for February 2014. Teams from 14 districts from the state will battle for the honors in the Men's section and 12 teams will take part in the Women's division.

The tournament will be organized by the Kerala Basketball Association under the auspices of the Thrissur District Basketball Association. The Municipal Stadium in Thrissur will also host some of the games of the tournament.

Ernakulum (Men) and Palakkad (Women) will be looking to defend their titles from their victories last year.

Participating Teams

  • Group A: Ernakulum, Kollam, Palakkad, Kozhikode.
  • Group B: Thiruvanathapuram, Pathanamthitta, Alapuzha, Kottayam.
  • Group C: Thrissur, Kasargod, Wayanad.
  • Group D: Kannur, Malapuram, Idukki.
  • Group A: Palakkad, Kollam, Kasargod.
  • Group B: Thiruvanathapuram, Ernakulum, Wayanad.
  • Group C: Kannur, Kozhikode, Malapuram.
  • Group D: Thrissur, Kottayam, Alapuzha.

December 1, 2013

China win 3rd FIBA Asia U16 Championship for Women; India finish 5th again

China's young stars were at the top of their game as they stole the show in Colombo (Sri Lanka), defeating Japan in the Final to capture gold at the 3rd FIBA Asia U16 Championship for Women on November 30, 2013. It was China's second gold at the competition, and their 62-50 triumph held Japan from repeating after their 2011 triumph.

For the second straight iteration of the tournament, India finished fifth with a 2-4 record and continued to solidify their stake as Asia's best women side after the dominant top four of China, Japan, Korea, and Chinese Taipei.

China used a balanced and defensive strategy to overwhelm Japan in the Final, bouncing back from a 17-9 deficit at the end of the first quarter to take a halftime lead, and then stretch out their advantage to a 62-50 victory.

Earlier on Saturday, Korea cruised past Chinese Taipei to a 86-64 win to secure third place. Heji Ann had a triple double for Korea with 22 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds, while Yejin Kim added 19. Yu-Lien Hsu (19) and Jing-Ting Wang (18) were the leading scorers for Chinese Taipei.

In the semi-finals stage, China showed no mercy as they put up a dominant 81-55 win over Korea, led by Haimei Wang (19) and Dilishati Dilana (17). Japan also joined them in the Final with a big win against Chinese Taipei, 99-60.

Placed in Level I with Asia's best, India were expected to play the role of minnows in the Preliminary Round, and started with their worst defensive performance, losing 112-45 to Japan.

India didn't get much better a day later against eventual champions China, who rode behind the efforts of Zhen Wang (24) and Jia Niu (21) to dominate from end to end and win 109-51.

India's most crucial encounter came in their third game, against Malaysia. They needed a win to secure at least fifth place, and started well, leading 29-24 at halftime. But Malaysia bounced back to tie the game at 43 by the end of the third quarter. In a neck-to-neck final period, India outlasted their opponent and survived to a secure a close 57-55 win.

India were back to losing ways as Chinese Taipei were the next team to exploit India's defensive deficiencies 105-50. Yu-Lien Hsu had a game high 24 points.

In their last Preliminary Round game, Yebin Yun had 23 points and eight points to lead Korea to a 106-56 win over India, who then finished at fifth place in their group.

India had to play one last game in the tournament to ensure that thy would return to Level 1 for 2015 against Level 2's second-place side Kazakhstan. They had their best showing, as three Indian players scored 20 or more points - Riya Verma (24 points), Bhandavya HM (23 points, 12 rebounds), and Srividhya Venkataraman (20 points, 11 rebounds). While the game was tied at 36 at halftime, India took charge of the third quarter to take a 11 point lead, and finish the game to win 84-71. Anastassiya Arzamastseva had a valiant performance (21 and 15) in a losing effort for Kazakhstan.

While Coach TD Biju's side showed some great performances against lower-seeded sides, they don't seem to have made any progress against the top teams who have a stronghold at the top of standings. Bhandavya HM and Riya Verma have showed the most potential for the side and could grow to be regulars for India's future senior teams.