January 31, 2015

Hundreds join 'Indian Basketball Coaches Network' by Team India Head Coach Scott Flemming

Basketball knowledge is like osmosis: the right chemistry can truly bring about some positive change and help spread the science of the game from one coaching mind to another. And through this beautiful hoops osmosis, basketball techniques and philosophies can be exponentially passed on to greater and greater numbers.

But the sharing of the knowledge first needs organization and a network, and in India, this is exactly what Team India Head Coach Scott Flemming is setting out to achieve. Flemming was hired two and a half years ago by the Basketball Federation of India chiefly to serve as the Head Coach of the National Men's team, a job that he has performed so far by breaking several historic precedents. Flemming has helped the squad win gold medal at last year's Lusofonia Games and perform wonders at the FIBA Asia Cup in Wuhan by defeating China for the first time ever.

Flemming's work in India also diverts in another crucial direction: the training and teaching of Indian basketball coaches, who will in turn be responsible for helping to prepare the majority of India's young players and coaches for a career in the game. Over the last few years, Flemming has been conversing with several Indian coaches, answering their questions, and attending camps in various states and cities around the country. Now, to improve the conversation between himself and the state/city coaches around the country as well as to share expert knowledge between them, Flemming has introduced the Indian Basketball Coaches Network (IBCN). So far, the IBCN has close to 300 coaches and Flemming hopes that many more will join in the near future.

"After viewing many games I have some messages that I would like suggest to [coaches] to improve their teams and grow basketball in India," Flemming told me via email, "I also want the IBCN to be interactive where the coaches can respond and even make their own suggestions."

In 2012, Flemming came to India with 30 years of coaching experience, mostly at top college programmes in the US. He last served as an assistant coach to the NBA’s Development League side Texas Legends.

In his most recent correspondence, Flemming discussed the philosophies and approaches required to help foster a better 'Team-First' mentality to the game. "I want to make the point that that every player on the team is important and they all deserve our respect," he wrote, "Obviously there are your top players that merit more playing time and are given more freedom based on their abilities. However, each member should be valued the same." He also used some practical ideas from former NBA Coach Del Harris (who attended the Indian Senior Nationals last February) with the coaches.

"The feedback has been great so far," Flemming told me, "I have heard from many coaches expressing their appreciation for this new initiative."

Photo courtesy: Ekalavyas.com
Flemming added that he hopes to share about a variety of subjects in the future that he feel are important for coaches, such as, practice organization, motivating players, systems of play, etc. "I will also make sure to deal with the subjects that the coaches are asking for," he added.

However, communication barriers - such as language - can always be a challenge. "I am hoping that there will be people to translate on the other end if needed," said Flemming, "We may also explore someone else repeating my messages in Hindi or another language if needed for our coaches in different locations."

In the future, Flemming added, he is also hoping that the IBCN involves the views of Indian coaches more to become a basketball forum.

"My ultimate goal would be to improve basketball in India," said Flemming, "This is just another tool that could have an effect on this growth if coaches will allow it to. From the beginning I have expressed that I am here to help in anyway I can. I don’t have all the answers but I do have experience that I believe can assist in developing our teams and our individual players. It is more than just strategy. I am always looking for ways that we can help each other grow in our profession. One of our main responsibilities as coaches is to help our players reach their full potential in basketball and more importantly in their personal lives."

Interested coaches who wish to join the IBCN can email and request Flemming on: coachesnetwork@indiabasketball.org

January 30, 2015

WNBA star Tamika Catchings tips off Jr. NBA Championship in Mumbai

WNBA and Olympic basketball champion Tamika Catchings is in India this week, and she was present to tip off the Mumbai city championship of the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA Programme at the Dominic Savio School in Andheri East on Wednesday, January 28th. The city championship marked the culmination of an eight-week program that took place in 185 schools across the city, including 100 MCGM schools.

More Than 940,000 youth from 1,000 schools have participated in the RF Jr. NBA programme since it was launched in 2013. NBA and Reliance Foundation have distributed 15,000 basketballs and 300 hoops to schools in India over the last few years.

“It is great to see such enthusiasm for basketball among Indian youth,” said Catchings at the city championship, “The joint effort between Reliance Foundation and the NBA has provided students the opportunity to learn the game and the important life lessons that come with it.”

Catchings (35) has enjoyed a highly successful basketball career. Drafted third by the Fever in 2001, the forward has spent her entire WNBA career with Indiana, leading the team to their first championship in 2012. Catchings is a five-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, nine-time All Star, the 2012 Finals MVP, and won Rookie of the Year in 2002. At the international stage, she has played an important role for USA, winning the women's basketball Olympics gold medal the last three times (2004, 2008, and 2012) and the women's world championship gold medal twice. Catchings has also played for clubs in Russia, Poland, and Turkey.

In the RF Jr. NBA programme, youth players across Mumbai have learned the game through in-school sessions, clinics, and competitions. The city championship included a 5x5 team competition featuring the top eight boys and girls teams from across the city; a 3x3 team competition featuring more than 450 teams; and the Finals of the Hot Shot individual shooting competition, which saw one boy and one girl crowned the best shooters in the city.

Catchings is now headed to Chennai to host the inauguration of the RF Jr. NBA Championship in that city.

January 29, 2015

Vlade Divac headlines international basketball stars of FIBA's Players' Commission

Regardless of the media hype and talent that is associated with NBA basketball in North America, the folks who really run the sport are located in the little town of Mies in Switzerland. The Fédération Internationale de Basket-ball, or FIBA, define the rules of basketball and, host the major international basketball events, and comprise of the game's governing body. Secretary General Patrick Baumann and President Horacio Muratore are two of the top officials running the hoops world.

But basketball isn't played by officials, it's played by players. And rightfully so, the players have their own FIBA Players' Commission, a committee whose responsibility is to represent all players - men, women and youth - across all types of basketball in the world. The new FIBA Players' Commission board members (for the term of 2014-19) were announced by FIBA yesterday and will be headlined by chairman Vlade Divac. Divac, an international and NBA legend from Serbia, has won two FIBA Basketball World Cups and three EuroBaskets. He was inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2010. Divac played in the NBA for the Lakers, Hornets, and Kings, and made the 2001 NBA All Star team. Last September, he became the first-ever players representative and as such serves on the 26-member FIBA Central Board.

The FIBA Players' Commission has 14 spots, 13 of which have been named with one spot from the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) still to follow. Aside of Divac, the other players on the list include Philippines' veteran guard Jimmy Alapag, WNBA and three-time Olympic Champion from USA Katie Smith, and more. Alapag is the only representative from Asia in the Commission.

See the full list of the international basketball stars chosen for the current FIBA Players' Commission here.

January 24, 2015

Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive to join Barack Obama in trip to India

On Sunday, US President Barack Obama will land in India for a historic three-day trip, becoming the first American president to attend India's Republic Day parade in New Delhi. In the process, he will also become the first sitting US president to make two official visits to India. Aside from being the special guest on the parade on January 26, Obama is set to hold meetings with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, help to warm diplomatic ties between two of the world's largest democracies, take part in a bilateral radio show, and even visit the Taj Mahal in Agra.

But that's not all: Obama is set to be joined by several CEOs from top US companies to India, including Vivek Ranadive, the India-born CEO of TIBCO and the majority owner of the Sacramento Kings.

This is going to be Ranadive's second trip since becoming a majority NBA owner: Ranadive came to India in early December with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and former NBA star Vlade Divac to attend events of the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA programme and charity programmes in his former hometown, Mumbai. Ranadive has been hoping to gain another audience with Modi since the two met during Modi's trip to New York in September; in an interview with me before his last visit to India, Ranadive mentioned that he was interested in discussing future projects - such as readying an NBA ready arena for India - with the Indian prime minister.

According to Forbes, the delegation of business chiefs visiting India with President Obama include Ajay Banga of Mastercard, Dave Cote of Honeywell, Bob Iger of Disney, Indra Nooyi of Pepsi, Arne Sorenson of Marriott, and Ranadive.

Via Forbes.com

But the presence of the corporate captains the White House hustled to recruit for the mission indicates the economic stakes. Warming diplomatic ties between the world’s oldest democracy and its largest are encouraging American companies seeking expanded access to India’s $2 trillion economy.
Modi is pushing to make his country friendlier to foreign investment with new incentives and regulatory reforms. He unveiled a “Make in India” campaign in September aimed at promoting the country as a manufacturing haven. And the US and India are chasing a five-fold increase in bilateral trade, to $500 billion, by 2020.

It's obviously encouraging to see improving relations between India and the USA, and having top US businessmen added to the trip will add to India's growing prestige as a business and investment destination. Ranadive may be visiting in official capacity as TIBCO CEO, but of course, he'll probably use this opportunity to pitch the growth of a future relationship between India, the NBA, and the Sacramento Kings.

January 22, 2015

WNBA and international superstar Tamika Catchings to visit India for Jr. NBA city championships

One of the most successful WNBA and international basketball players of the past decade, American Tamika Catchings of the Indiana Fever is set to visit India next week to host the inauguration of the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA city championships in Chennai and Mumbai. Catchings will tip off Chennai's Jr. NBA Championship on February 1st at the Santhome School which will see youth from schools all across the city participate. She will also be at the Dominic Savio School in Andheri East in Mumbai on January 28th.

“It is an honor to travel to India on behalf of the Reliance Foundation and the NBA to help teach basketball to young boys and girls in India,” said Catchings. “It is exciting that the sport I love is taking off in India and I am looking forward to working with these kids.”

Catchings (35) has enjoyed a highly successful basketball career. Drafted third by the Fever in 2001, the forward has spent her entire WNBA career with Indiana, leading the team to their first championship in 2012. Catchings is a five-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, nine-time All Star, the 2012 Finals MVP, and won Rookie of the Year in 2002. At the international stage, she has played an important role for USA, winning the women's basketball Olympics gold medal the last three times (2004, 2008, and 2012) and the women's world championship gold medal twice. Catchings has also played for clubs in Russia, Poland, and Turkey.

Catchings will be the third big name WNBA player to visit India over the last four years, following 2x champion Katie Smith in 2011 and 3x champion Swin Cash in 2013.

The Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA city Championship marks the culmination of three competitions that have been taking place across the city. There will be a finals of the 5x5 team competition featuring the top eight boys and girls teams from across the city; a 3x3 team competition featuring over 150 teams; and the finals of the Hot Shot individual shooting competition, which will see one boy and girl crowned as the best shooters in the city.

January 21, 2015

Poonam Mahajan becomes the first woman president of Maharashtra State Basketball Association

Poonam Mahajan - a Member of Parliament from Mumbai North Central and a politician of the BJP - was voted in unanimously as the new president of the Maharashtra State Basketball Association (MSBA) during the Annual General Meeting of the association on Sunday, January 18th. Mahajan becomes the first women to be MSBA president in the association's 65-year history, reported The Times of India.

Mahajan succeeds outgoing MSBA president Jaidev Shroff to the post, who now becomes the MSBA's chairman. The previous chairman of the MSBA was M Venkatesh.

Mahajan told The Times of India that her plans for the MSBA include providing support for the players and improving basketball infrastructure in the state.

"It is quite amazing to see basketball being played across all villages in Maharashtra. Basketball has been my favourite sport since childhood and I am very fortunate to lead MSBA," she said.

"The challenges are enormous but with my experience, I will be able to meet them. It will be my endeavour to take the game to even greater heights with the help of all my colleagues in MSBA."

Maharashtra has some of the richest basketball culture in all of the country, featuring well-organized district, state, college, and school tournaments as well as playing host to some of India's best national invitational tournaments, like the Savio Cup and the Ramu Memorial Basketball Tournament. Kudos to Mahajan for breaking a gender barrier in the MSBA fraternity, but how much sense does it make to hand someone with no basketball playing/operational experience (except for it being her "favourite" sport) to lead the basketball association of the entire state?

Basketball in Maharashtra has not been without its turmoil over the past year. In November, the MSBA faced protest from several district associations from the state in the form of a letter requesting for a removal of MSBA officials for causing irregularities, miscommunication, and the misuse of power. That letter was sent to the media by Shatrughan Gokhale, the secretary of the Nagpur District Basketball Association. After the most recent AGM on Sunday, Gokhale was named one of the five vice-presidents of the MSBA.

January 20, 2015

Madras University are crowned India university champions at 2015 UBA national men's tournament

When 16 of the best university basketball teams in India gather together on the same court, fireworks are guaranteed. And for the past week in Chennai, fireworks were delivered. The UBA All India Inter University Basketball Tournament for Men was held at the Sathyabama University in Chennai from January 12-19 as the conclusion of the world's largest combined basketball tournament . The national final was an 'All Chennai' affair, as hosts Sathyabama faced off against local rivals Madras University on Monday. Madras University that emerged as national university champions with an inspired 81-64 victory.

The Universal Basketball Alliance of India (UBA) has acquired the broadcast, merchandise and sponsorship rights to the existing, and self-governing Indian University Basketball Program of the Association of Indian Universities (AIU). The UBA worked on securing television broadcasting arrangements, corporate sponsorships for tournament play, and creating merchandising opportunities at the tournament. They have focused their attention on the AIU and popularizing its All India Inter Zonal Tournament in the same manner as the Collegiate Basketball in the USA. In their first year as organizers of the tournament, the UBA invited star former Indian athlete Anju Bobby George, former NBA All Star Cedric Ceballos and Bollywood star Abhishek Bachchan as special guests.

Four teams that finished tops in each of the North, South, East, and West Zones in India were invited to this tournament to compete for the national crown.

The battle of the Chennai city rivals at the final on Monday was a rematch of the South Zone championships finale, where Sathyabama had defeated Madras University just ten days earlier. Satyhabama seemed on course for another victory after they got off to a blistering 13-2 start to begin the game. But Madras University turned the corner after a quick timeout to get on top and hold on to a slim four-point lead at halftime. Behind the dominant post play of Jeevanatham P. (26 points, 10 rebounds) and forward N Nagaraj (20 points, 14 rebounds), Madras took complete control of the second half and raced to a 81-64 win. Anto Bethle added 19 for the winning side. Satyhabama were led by Arun Prashanth (19) and Rakesh (17 points, 16 rebounds) in the loss.

Earlier in the day, the bronze medal game was an offensive explosive between Jain University (Bengaluru) and Bharati Vidyapeeth University (Pune). Kapil Gaikwad, representing the Pune side, scored 48 points to lead all high scorers as Bharati had an 16-point lead earlier in the game. But Jain's 'Big Three' of Kaif Zia (36 points 14 rebounds), Yashas R. (31), and Vinoth (25) sparked an inspired second-half comeback to help their team win 123-115 in the entertaining clash. Bharati's Akshay Bhosle also scored 36 for his team in the loss.

Bollywood actor and basketball enthusiast Abhishek Bachchan was the chief guest at the final and handed over the trophies and medals to the teams. On the occasion, he said “Basketball is growing rapidly and is going to be the biggest sport in this country. The Universal Basketball Alliance will continue to have my full support in this great initiative to promote basketball in India.”

Former NBA All Star and slam dunk champion Cedric Ceballos was also a guest at the opening of the tournament along with star Indian athlete Anju Bobby George. Ceballos, who played 11 years in the NBA with memorable stints at the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Lakers, was also a judge at the UBA national championship's dunk contest.

This Inter-Zonal All-India University Annual Tournament is the most comprehensive on the planet, as it encompasses nearly 10,000 colleges. “It is an honour to be here,” said Ceballos at the opening ceremopny. “This is a challenge for passion, this is a challenge for teamwork, and it is also an opportunity for dreams to come true.”

January 19, 2015

ONGC (Men) and Chhattisgarh (Women) win 10th Savio Cup in Mumbai

Continuing the momentum gained from winning India's biggest domestic basketball tournament - the Senior Nationals in Rajasthan - players for Chhattisgarh (Women) and ONGC (Men ) rose above their opponents to be crowned champions at the 10th Savio Cup invitational basketball tournament in Mumbai. One of the top club/state basketball championships in India, this year's Savio Cup was once again held at the Don Boscho school in Matunga from January 11-18. The Women's and Men's finals were held in front of an eager, hoops-loving crowd on Sunday, January 18th.

ONGC - the Men's club side featuring several of the same players who won the Senior National Championship in Bhilwara (Rajasthan) a few weeks ago - returned to the Savio Cup as the reigning champs with hopes to lift the title again. In the tournament's finale, ONGC faced their familiar rivals IOB (Chennai), whom they had defeated in the final last year as well as trumped over earlier in this year's tournament. With tournament MVP Vishesh Bhriguvanshi leading the way, ONGC once again got the better of their foes. ONGC started with a 19-5 run in the first quarter and held on to their advantage till the end for a 63-53 victory.

The women's final brought out the top stars in the country in a clash of 2014 Savio Cup winners Southern Railway and the winners of the last two Senior National Championships, Chhattisgarh. Railway started the game on top, racing up to a 33-29 lead. But Chhattisgarh bounced back with a strong performance in the third quarter to go up by five before the start of the final period. The gold remained in touching distance for both squads, but it was eventually Chhattisgarh who provided another clutch performance to stamp their mark over Indian Women's hoops with a title-clinching, 71-63 victory.

Sponsored by United Phosphorous and Tridhaatu Realty Infrastructure, this year's Savio Cup featured seven Men's teams and four Women's teams.

On several days at the tournament, Arts-based therapy practioneer Gayatree Joshi held relaxation therapy sessions for the participating players.

January 17, 2015

15 for 15: New Year’s resolutions for Indian Basketball in 2015

This article was first published in my column for Ekalavyas on January 7, 2015. Click here to read the original post. 
Teams gather for the 65th Senior National Basketball
Championship 2014-15 in Bhilwara, Rajasthan.
By tradition, India’s senior national basketball championship – or the ‘Senior Nationals’ – are held in the transition period between one calendar year and another. Although there have been exceptions on the schedule every now and then, for most of India’s finest hoop players, the New Year’s celebrations have been held in preparation or during intense basketball competition.
This seems fitting: if you’re Indian and you worship the great gospel of basketball, then the Senior Nationals are clearly the most important domestic event on your annual calendar. For India’s top basketball players, coaches, referees, managers, and fans, the start of every New Year is a chance to get together and reflect on what matters to them the most.
The turning of the calendar from the old to the new is also a time for resolutions; for us to make promises to ourselves, set goals, and use the opportunity of a fresh slate to take a fresh approach towards betterment. With the 65th Senior National Basketball Championship (in Bhilwara, Rajasthan) concluding earlier this week, it’s a good time for the Indian basketball fraternity to make some resolutions, too.

What should be the milestones for our top players, teams, and stakeholders of the game? Here are 15 New Year’s resolutions for Indian basketball in 2015:
1. Parents support at basketball events. The irony for many young players with basketball aspirations in India is that the biggest roadblock in the realization of their dreams isn’t always talent or opportunity: its family. Traditionally, Indian parents have been hesitant to let their children chase a career in sports (or creative arts). In recent years, however, the trends have been improving, and more parents are showing support for kids with ‘alternative’ career prospects. The support has to begin at a young age, and I hope that more Indian parents appear in the audience at basketball events organized by the BFI/IMG Reliance (like the Indian School/College Basketball Leagues) and the NBA (like the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA programme) to give the youngsters the encouragement they need. It’s these kids who will eventually become the future basketball stars of India.

2. India’s best players get offers to play professionally abroad. The only Indian players to play for professional clubs abroad have been Geethu Anna Jose and Anitha Paul Durai. But there is a lot more potential in India, and it’s only a matter of the right kind of exposure to provide opportunities to our young and rising stars. Players like Amrit Pal Singh or Amjyot Singh are top talents and could definitely benefit other professional leagues in Southeast Asia, Australia, the Middle East, or even Europe.

3. More Geethu Anna Jose, please! She’s now a proud winner of the Arjuna Award and probably the greatest basketball player India has produced for the last few decades. But Jose has taken a semi-hiatus from basketball. Even though she may not be the dominant force she was until a few years ago, I believe that the 29-year-old still has a lot to contribute to Indian basketball and can carry our national team and Railways to greater heights.

4. Satnam Singh Bhamara plays NCAA basketball. Bhamara exploded on to the scene as a talented 7-footed teenager, completing an incredible journey that started in a tiny Punjabi village and took him to the IMG Basketball Academy in Florida. Bhamara is reaching the end of his tenure at IMG, and the possibility of NCAA basketball might beckon in the future. If he makes it to Division 1, he could be the first Indian national to do so.

5. NBA Jam and Reliance Foundation expand to more cities. It was a marquee year for NBA India, as both the NBA Jam and the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA programme expanded to more Indian cities, reaching more young players than ever before. NBA India’s Senior Director Basketball Operations Carlos Barroca told me that the NBA has big plans for future expansion: hopefully, they can take their coaches to train Indian coaches and players in more cities than ever.

6. India’s Men’s NT repeat FIBA Asia Cup wonders at Wuhan again, at the FIBA Asia Championship. India performed a Wonder at Wuhan in July, defeating Asia’s top side China for the first time, and did so on their home soil. In September 2015, Asia’s best teams will head to Wuhan again for a bigger tournament: the 28th FIBA Asia Championship (ABC). India’s performances at the FIBA Asia Cup were great, but a repeat of that performance at the ABC will raise pride for Indian basketball more than ever before back home and give another grave warning to India’s other continental rivals.

7. India’s Women shock the ‘Big Four’ at FIBA Asia Championship for Women. FIBA Asia Women tournaments are a ‘quad-poly’ between four top teams: China, Chinese Taipei, Japan, and Korea. These four teams, in some order, always finish in the top four at the Women’s FIBA ABC events. In 2013, India won a ‘Level 1’ FIBA ABC game for the first time (against Kazakhstan) and finished fifth, their highest ever rank in the tournament. This year, I hope we dare to dream bigger and manage to defeat one of the top four, thus getting a chance to enter the semi-final stage for the first time in history.

8. New male/female stars rise at the U16 FIBA Asia Championships. 2015 is also the calendar year for the next U16 FIBA Asia Championships for both boys and girls. This tournament will be the first major international championship for India’s finest youth players, and it will be the first chance to learn of new names that will one day become mainstays at our senior level. If India is going to find the big breakthrough superstar that makes the NBA or WNBA level one day, we could get the first glance of that star at one of these tournaments.

9. The NBA sends a superstar to visit India this summer. As India grows as a market for the NBA, visits from NBA or WNBA’s current or former players have become a common occurrence in recent years. The NBA usually sends retired legends during the season and uses the offseason as an opportunity to send a rising talent (like Isaiah Thomas in 2014) or an All Star (like Chris Bosh in 2013). Here’s hoping that the summer of 2015 brings a super-duper star (of the Durant-LeBron-Kobe calibre) to the country.

10. Indian basketball games make it to national/cable TV more often. DD Sports – when they have nothing better to show – will dabble with broadcasting Indian domestic tournaments or occasional international games. But in 2013, when Neo Prime broadcast the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship, it was the first time that an Indian basketball game – domestic or international – was shown on cable TV in India. Ten Sports/Action broadcast the 2014 Asian Games basketball tournament, too. The move to cable brings more professionalism and better production value to the games, and thus are more eye-catching to both casual and serious fans. Hopefully, the 2015 FIBA Asia Championships (for both men and women) are picked up by cable channels so that a wider audience will be able to catch India’s top players in action. It’ll be a bonus if the domestic national tournaments make the jump to cable, too.

11. Local fans flock to watch national tournaments around the country. No matter how much the organization off the floor and the talent on the floor improve at national basketball tournaments in India, one thing that has stayed unfortunately constant has been the general apathy of local fans. At most national tournaments, the fans in the stands (until the final stages, at least) comprise usually of players from other teams at the event. At the Senior Nationals in Bhilwara, there were sizeable crowds for the outdoor court matches and during the semifinals and finals. Hopefully, the momentum can carry on to the other nationals for the rest of the year, too.

12. Basketball associations in various states sort out their troubles. 2014 was a year when basketball associations in various Indian states – like Maharashtra, Goa, andJammu and Kashmir – struggled with internal issues, which in turn affected the growth and potential of the rising talents in those states. Hopefully these states – and others particularly in the North-East of India who haven’t earned BFI affiliation – can smoothen their internal differences and find a way to showcase their best at the national tournaments in 2015.

13. Improve the infrastructure, bring FIBA and NBA over. India has a few decent basketball arenas and has been a host to a FIBA Asia Women’s tournament in the past, but we still have a long way to go to match the stadiums in some of the other Asian countries. I hope that various cities around the country shift their attention on helping the growth of sport and invest on building bigger and better arenas. Out in Sacramento, Vivek Ranadive, the Indian-born owner of the Kings, has long-professed his desire to bring his team to India for an exhibition game, but NBA-level infrastructure has been the major speed-bump in his plans. With better infrastructure, it is more likely for FIBA to choose India for a major tournament again and for the NBA to hold India’s first-ever exhibition game soon.

14. More international exposure games for National teams. A common complaint by India’s national team coaches Scott Flemming and Francisco Garcia in recent years has been that our squads are being sent to Asia’s top tournaments untested and completely unprepared. Unlike other countries, India keeps missing the opportunity to take part in ‘friendly’ games or smaller tournaments before the big FIBA Asia Championships. These games give a chance to the coaches to figure out their systems, test their lineups, and help improve team chemistry. Hopefully, before the 2015 FIBA Asia Championships, the BFI are able to secure international practice games for both men and women to help them raise their experience and comfort-level before the bigger challenges ahead.

15. Launch an Indian professional basketball league. I’ve argued in great detail before about how a professional basketball league could revolutionize hoops in India. The trickle-down effect of the league will benefit our players, coaches, referees, and fans, and would eventually help India’s national team performances. Since their relationship IMG Reliance began, the Basketball Federation of India have been discussing and doing the groundwork for the launch of this league for several years, but so far, none of the theoretical thoughts have produced practical results. IMG were instrumental in launching football’s ISL’s in 2014, and hopefully the success of that league will help create a blueprint for an Indian basketball league to finally be launched in 2015.

January 16, 2015

Hey now – you all are All Stars!

Becoming an All Star is an important milestone in the career of an NBA star, and NBA greats are judged by – among other things – the number of times they earned that ‘All Star’ moniker. The results of the fan ballot for this year’s starters will be announced on January 22 and the full roster with the fan’s votes will be out on January 29. But before that happens, here is my list of who deserves to make the NBA All Star teams this season.

Click here to read the full feature on SportsKeeda.

January 15, 2015

Chhattisgarh Women's incredible basketball team could soon be the subject of a Bollywood film

Sports, some may argue, are just a pastime, a distraction to keep the average person relieved from a life that can be filled with otherwise serious challenges of family, work, politics, and survival. In the big scheme of things, who really cares which way the ball bounced? Who cares about heroes on a basketball court of a cricketing field when there are greater heroes fighting for humanity in the 'real life'?

No, sports may not save humanity, but I believe that sporting stories can definitely help improve humanity a little. In many ways, the basketball court or that cricket field serves as a timely metaphor for us of the stage of life. How you perform, how hard you work, how you overcome adversity, how you fight to win, and how you remain a 'good sport' through the ups and the downs can indeed teach us much about living a fulfilling and successful life. This is why sports remain popular, and why stories about sports continue to inspire us.

This is why Bollywood - another medium of distraction and escapism which can also serve as a teaching metaphor - has often chosen sports as its muse in the past. Films like Lagaan, Chak De! India, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Mary Kom, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, Iqbal, and more have caught the public's imagination in the past through sports like Cricket, Hockey, Athletics, Boxing, Cycling, etc. It seems that now, thanks to the success of an inspirational team from the state of Chhattisgarh, Basketball will be given another shot in Indian cinema.

The central Indian state Chhattisgarh was formed back in November 2000 by by partitioning Chhattisgarhi-speaking southeastern districts of Madhya Pradesh. MP has always featured decent basketball teams, and a small pool of that talent would now form the base of the basketball programmes in the new state. But the efforts of one man - Rajesh Patel - didn't just help jump-start basketball in Chhattisgarh; he made the sport almost synonymous with the state. Working at the coach at the Bhilai Steel Plant and as the Head Coach of all of Chhattisgarh's State women's teams, Patel has led the teams to extraordinary success, dominating the Sub-Junior (U14), Youth (U16), and Junior (U18) national tournaments, and most recently, winning back-to-back championships in India's largest domestic basketball meet - the Senior Nationals - in 2014 and 2015. The girls' in Patel's programmes have overcome underprivileged backgrounds, a patriarchal society, and the the case of 2015 national MVP Poonam Chaturvedi, a brain tumour, all to become India's fiercest women's basketball team and go on to earn a better future for themselves through government jobs (that sponsor basketball) and India's national team.

The Indian Express writer Shivani Naik spoke to Patel after his team's most recent national triumph and divulged that several influential names in the Bollywood world have expressed interest in turning the story of his team into a Chak-De style film for Indian Basketball. According to Naik's, actor-producer Lara Dutta Bhupathi has been a fan of Chhattisgarh basketball and is looking to back a project to oversee the production of this story. Naik's article also connects names such as Vikramaditya Motwane (the brilliant young director of Udaan and Lootera) and Dutta's husband and tennis star Mahesh Bhupathi to those interested in the making of this film.

“Yes, Lara Dutta had read about the academy [in Bhilai] and wanted to make a movie on the state women’s team," Patel was quoted as saying, "We’ve had detailed discussions and two of their team members flew down to Bhilai last September and spoke to the girls who are very excited. They promised that it would not be a masala film."

Dutta has a history as a basketball fan; she was famously given an all-access trip to the Los Angeles Lakers back in 2008, and it's great to hear that she's turning her interest in the sport to focus the attention on hoops back in India.

This is of course not the first flirtation of Bollywood and Basketball. Several years ago, I wrote about pivotal scenes from three famous Bollywood movies that included the game, including Kajol and Shah Rukh Khan playing in the most cringe-worthy full-court one-on-one flirtatious game of All Time in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. But except for a few moments of hoops action, these films focused on entirely different issues. Last year, "Vallinam", a Tamil movie based on basketball was released to moderate/low fanfare. And I have no clue what has happened with the promise of '4 PM on the court'. If this project sees the light of the day, it would be the first re-telling of a true basketball story in India and - judging by the names attached to it - by far the best one.

The story will probably focus on Bhilai and how Patel's academy has turned unknown youngsters into basketball wonders. The Bhilai Steel Plant is the financial powerhouse behind providing infrastructure and manpower for Chhattisgarhi basketball, including four well-maintained outdoor courts. The Bhilai Engineering Corporation sponsor the state’s ‘Basketball Hostel’. At this hostel, around 20 girls and 10 boys, usually from poor families, are housed all year long, where they eat, pray, and love basketball, practicing 10 hours each day, morning and evening, on repeat.

At the helm of this project is the coach, Rajesh Patel. Patel is Honorary Secretary of the Chhattisgarh Basketball Association, the Deputy Manager (Sports) at Bhilai Steel Plant, and has invested over 30 years into the game. He has built a well-planned system, where his scouts bring young players (around age 10-11) from deprived conditions and offer them a chance to make a living through basketball. “These are really poor kids from all around the state of Chhattisgarh,” Patel told me in an interview several years ago, “Some are from tribal families. Some can't even afford to buy a pair of slippers for their feet. Some have father’s who drive auto-rickshaws, or sell paan. We offer them the opportunity that if they are successful in basketball, they will be able to land a government job. By the time they leave, I want them to earn for themselves and be able to stand on their own two feet.”

And they don’t just stand, they stand tall. In his several decades in coaching, hundreds of players that have trained under Patel have received government jobs under the sports quota. A few dozen that haves trained under him have represented the Indian Sr. National team. He has worked with close to eight thousand young players in the state. For his contributions to grassroots basketball in India, Patel was felicitated at the FICCI sports summit in 2010.

In the interview with Naik this week, Patel said of the girls in this team, “The kind of families they come from, even their next meal is not assured, forget about completing their education. I think girls should do more than just be married off at 18 years. My girls play aggressive ball and are posted as ticket collectors at big stations. They go to work from 7 am to 5 pm, and come back and train. Nothing makes me more proud than seeing them in their blazers going about their work professionally. On the court, they are expected to win of course."

If someone like Motwane - whose movies and scripts I have personally admired a lot - the project will surely have a better chance at some critical success. Apart from the Head Coach himself, the central character of this tale may well be the literal centerpiece of the team, Poonam Chaturvedi. At 6-foot-8, 19-year-old Chaturvedi is now Chattisgarh's best player, an unstoppable star who shined bright in the nationals and scored 48 points in the final en route to her MVP campaign. What makes her story more intriguing though is that she was diagnosed with a brain tumour last year, and despite the painful recovery, has managed to lead her team to back-to-back national championships. Other stars in the team like Sharanjeet Kaur, Seema Singh, Akansha Singh, Anju Lakra, Bharti Netam, M. Pushpa, Sangeetha Kaur, and more have played a crucial role in the last decade of Chhattisgarh's success and performed successfully for India at the international stage.

The only trouble, of course, would be find tall actresses to fill these shoes, especially the ones belonging to the 6-foot-8 Chaturvedi!

They might be a distraction or an escape, but sports and films do indeed bring us the inspiration to make the most of our lives. And if it's done right, a Bollywood film on the dominating girls of Chhattisgarh could make for an engaging and encouraging story. And of course, any mainstream attention to basketball is bound to inspire young players to take up this blog's favourite sport!

January 12, 2015

2015 AIU Men's National Basketball Championship tips off in Chennai - featuring Cedric Ceballos

For years, India's top university teams nationwide have been taking part in our own homegrown version of the NCAA National Basketball Tournament, pitting the best college-level players against each other to crown the national champion. But this year, the tournament is set to take a major boost forward to catch the imagination of players and fans around the country. The Association of Indian Universities's (AIU) Annual Men’s National Basketball Championship is a largest university-level pan-India basketball tournament, with the winning team boasting of the title of the best university basketball team in the country. This year, the tournament is set to be held at the Sathyabama University in Chennai from January 12 - 19.

Photo Courtesy: Ekalavyas.com
After finishing in the top four of their respective zonal tournaments, 16 top teams from four different Indian zones have qualified for the National tournament.

A highlight of the tournament will be the special guest, former NBA All Star and Slam Dunk champion Cedrid Ceballos. Ceballos played in the NBA from 1990-2001, suiting up for the Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons, and Miami Heat in the process. As a member of the Suns, Ceballos won the Slam Dunk contest in 1992 with his famous 'blindfold dunk'. The following year, the small forward led the NBA in field-goal percentage and reached the NBA Finals. His best overall individual years came as a Laker, when he was named to the All Star team in 1995 (but couldn't participate due to injury) and averaged 21.2 points per game. Post his NBA career, Ceballos played for basketball leagues in Israel, Russia, and the Philippines.

The Universal Basketball Alliance of India (UBA) has acquired the broadcast, merchandise and sponsorship rights to the existing, and self-governing Indian University Basketball Program. The UBA is currently securing television broadcasting arrangements, securing corporate sponsorships for tournament play, and creating merchandising opportunities. UBA will focus its attention on the AIU and popularizing its All India Inter Zonal Tournament in the same manner as the Collegiate Basketball in the USA.

The qualified teams for the national tournament are:
  • South Zone: Sathyabama University (Chennai), Madras University (Chennai), Bharathiar University (Coimbatore), Jain University (Bengaluru).
  • North Zone: Punjab University (Chandigarh), Guru Nanak Dev University (Amritsar), University of Delhi (Delhi), Jamia Millia Islamia (Delhi).
  • East Zone: Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth (Varanasi), Pt. Ravishankar Shukla University (Raipur), Burdwan University (Burdwan), Veer Bahadur Singh Purvanchal University (Jaunpur).
  • West Zone: Bharati Vidyapeeth University (Pune), University of Rajasthan (Jaipur), Savitribai Phule University (Pune), Shivaji University (Kolhapur).
The winners of their respective zones - Sathyabama (who are also the hosts), Punjab University, MGKV, and Bharati Vidyapeeth - will of course start as favourites to win the national crown. Last year's champions in Varanasi, Hindustan University from Chennai, are missing from action this year. Talented squads from Guru Nanak Dev University and Jain University will also be hoping to take a step forward this year.

Ceballos will be at the Sathyabama University in Chennai to judge the slam dunk contest and attend other events. Quick 5-rupee bet that one of the dunkers busts out a blindfold dunk attempt to try and impress the illustrious judge.

January 10, 2015

10th Savio Cup - one of India's top national tournaments - tips off in Mumbai tomorrow

As it is usually the tradition in the early Indian basketball calender, rivalries that are born at the Senior Nationals are settled just a few days later, when India's best players meet again in Mumbai at the Savio Cup. Now entering it's 10th edition, the Savio Cup is one of India's top national invitational tournaments, where the most stacked club and state/unit teams compete for the prestigious title. This year's Savio Cup will tip off tomorrow, Sunday January 11th with seven Men's and four Women's teams. Sponsored by United Phosphorous and Tridhaatu Realty Infrastructure, the tournament will be held at the Don Bosco School's basketball courts in Matunga with the finals on January 18th.

ONGC - the Men's club side featuring several of the same players who won the Senior National Championship in Bhilwara (Rajasthan) a few days ago - will return to the Savio Cup as the reigning champs with hopes to lift the title again. In the Women's division, Southern Railway will look to continue their dominance at this tournament after winning gold the past four years. National and international stars like Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, Amrit Pal Singh, Riyazuddin and Yadwinder Singh, Amjyot Singh, Anitha Pauldurai, Anju Lakra, and many more will be in action through the course of the next week.

Savio Cup 10 participating teams
  • Men: ONGC, Indian Railways, Maharashtra, Indian Overseas Bank (Chennai), Punjab, Services, Bhavnagar Youngsters.
  • Women: Southern Railway, Punjab, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh.

January 7, 2015

Team India Women's coach Francisco Garcia to hold basketball clinic in Nagpur

Since he was hired as the new Head Coach of India's senior women's team about 18 months ago, Francisco Garcia has picked up an intimate understanding of the basketball structure in India and the requirements to help propel the national squad to greater heights. Now, the coach out of Spain will be heading out on the field and into the grassroots to Nagpur to help burgeoning basketball talent in the city and potentially scout more young players to represent India at the international stage.

As part of The Times of India's 'Nagpur for Kids' campaign, Garcia will be at the 'Orange City' in Maharashtra from January 9-13. The coach is scheduled to hold activities with city kids on January 10th and then guide selected players at the Shankar Nagar-based Dharampeth Krida Mandal (DKM) courts on January 11-12. The selected players will take part in four training sessions during these two days, at the end of which, Garcia may recommend the top players to be selected for national basketball camps by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI).

The programme is a unique initiative of the BFI to identify talented players at the grassroots level. The special clinic materialized due to the efforts of the BFI's CEO Roopam Sharma, the Nagpur District Basketball Association (NDBA), The Times of India, and DKM officials. Last year, India's Men's Head Coach Scott Flemming conducted similar clinics in Nagpur.

Garcia has 20 years of club basketball coaching experience in Europe, and helped lead Team India Women to a best-ever fifth-place finish at the FIBA Asia Championship for Women in 2013.

January 6, 2015

Uttarakhand (Men) and Chattisgarh (Women) are India's 2015 national basketball champions at Bhilwara

For eight days, the best of Indian basketball was at Bhilwara (Rajasthan), welcoming the new year with the nation's biggest domestic hoops competition. The city played host to the 65th National Basketball Championship for Men and Women from December 29 - January 5. And after a combined 51 teams in the Men's and Women's sections displayed the top basketball talent in India from across the various states, units, and territories, two champions stood atop the podium at the very end. In the Women's section, Chhattisgarh repeated after last year's surprise win to once again win the gold. In the Men's tournament, 2013 champions Uttarakhand bounced back to reclaim their place at the top.

Organised by the Bhilwara District Basketball Association in collaboration with the Rajasthan State Basketball Association under the aegis of Basketball Federation of India (BFI) and IMG-Reliance, the 'Senior Nationals' tipped off last week with some of India's top players looking to make a mark and bring home a trophy for their squads. After eight days of mesmerizing action, the tournament came to an end with the Men's and Women's finals at Bhilwara on Monday, January 6th.

A year after shocking Indian Railways in the final to win the 64th National Championship, Chhattisgarh found themselves in the Women's finale again, once more after defeating Railways at an earlier stage. Their opponent this time around were the experienced Delhi team, who returned to the final after a three-year gap. While Delhi were competitive earlier in the game, Chhattisgarh superstar Poonam Chaturvedi - India's tallest Women's basketball player at 6-foot-9 - continued her dominant run at the tournament with one of her finest individual performances. Chaturvedi let loose for 48 points to go with 12 rebounds for Chhattisgarh, helping her side blow out Delhi in the third quarter and hold on to their lead for a 84-75 win. Delhi lost the services of former Indian captain Prashanti Singh to injury earlier in the game. Sharanjeet Kaur added 18 for Chhattisgarh in the victory.

Chaturvedi was named the tournament's MVP after averaging around 30 points per game and rounded up her second national title in two years. This feat is even more amazing considering that she was diagnosed with brain tumour last year and battled back to regain her spot as one of the finest players in the country again. Another incredible fact? She is still just 19!

The Men's final pitted the winners of the last two years - Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand - against each other for an exciting battle of supremacy. The game also pitted two of India's finest big men and national team frontcourt teammates Amrit Pal Singh (Uttarakhand) and Amjyot Singh (TN) against each other, albeit Amjyot didn't play until the second half due to an ankle injury. It was the 2013 champs Uttarakhand who got off to a hot start, leading by 10 at the end of the first quarter and maintaining a double digit lead at halftime. With the help of Amjyot, TN attempted a second half comeback, but it wasn't enough as Uttarakhand held on to finish the game with a 72-63 win and the national title. Amrit Pal continued his fine form in the final, leading all scorers with 27 points and 14 rebounds. His teammate Yadwinder Singh added 16 to help Uttarakhand finish with a flourish.

Amrit Pal Singh was handed the MVP award in the Men's division.

Indian Railways Women had to settle for the bronze medal this year after a closely-fought 81-76 victory over Kerala in the Third/Fourth place matchup. Led by Smruthi Radhakrishnan (16) Railways were challenged till the very end by a talented young Kerala squad, which featured the likes of Poojamol KS (18) and Neenumol PS (16) leading the way. In the Men's bronze-medal game, India's national team starters Joginder Singh (22) and Narender Grewal (21) led the way to defeat the surprise team from Haryana, 87-70. After a wonderful run in the tournament, Haryana had to settle for fourth place, but not before their top scorers Deepak Rathee (23), Himanshu S (20), and Hemant S (20) gave Services a true run for their money.

The winning teams received Rs. 1.5 lakhs each, runners-up received Rs. 1 lakh each, and third-place received Rs 50,000 each.

At the semi-final stage a day earlier, Indian Railways Women had an opportunity to avenge last year's semi-final loss to Chhattisgarh. Despite a valiant effort by Railways' R Rajapriyadarshini (35 points, 16 rebounds), Railways came up short at the end of another classic encounter between the two sides. Behind Poonam Chaturvedi efforts (27 points, 13 rebounds), Chhattisgarh raced to a 12-point lead at halftime. But Rajapriyadarshini and Anju Lakra (20) led Railways all the way back in the third and fourth periods to a small lead. Unfortunately for them, Railways weren't able to hold on, and Chhattisgarh used a last valiant push to run past them for a 83-79 win. Sharanjeet Kaur aided Chaturvedi's monster night with 16 points in the win. Meanwhile, Delhi Women relied on the services of Pratima Singh (17) to break lose from a low-scoring start en route to a 71-63 win over Kerala. Jeena PS led Kerala with 18 points and 12 rebounds in the loss.

In the first Men's semi-final, Uttarakhand ended Haryana's Cinderella run in style, using their experience and deep pool of talent to post a 86-64 win. Veteran international star Vishesh Bhriguvanshi led with 26 points and 10 rebounds for Uttarakhand while his international teammate Amrit Pal Singh added 16 and 13. Former international player Riyazuddin added 18 for Uttarakhand in the victory. Haryana's leading scorer was Himanshu S (19). In the second Men's final final, Amjyot Singh was in his finest form for TN, lighting up the night with 29 points and 13 rebounds in the 86-73 win for his side over Services. TN's A Aravind also added 22. For Services, Narender Grewal left it all on the line with 29 points and 11 rebounds in the loss.

A day before the launch of the championship, the BFI celebrated 'Indian Basketball Day' in honour of late CEO Harish Sharma. On this day, the best players in the country took part in Men and Women's All Star games and a Slam Dunk contest. Cultural performances, prize distribution, and a remembrance ceremony for Sharma was also held.

Final Scores
  • Women: Chhattisgarh (Poonam Chaturvedi 48, Sharanjeet Kaur 18) bt Delhi (Madhu Kumari 15, Pratima Singh 15, Akanksha Singh 13) 84-75 (19-22, 21-16, 26-11, 18-26).
  • Men: Uttarakhand (Amritpal Singh 27 pts, Yadwinder Singh 16, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi 13) bt Tamil Nadu (Pratham Singh 15) 72-63 (22-12, 17-16, 10-15, 23-20).
Third/Fourth Place Matchups
  • Women: Indian Railway (Smruthi Radhakrishnan 16, Sitamani Tudu 14, R Rajapriyadarshini 14) bt Kerala (Poojamol KS 18, Neenumol PS 16, Jeena PS 14) 81-76 (23-18, 11-13, 19-18, 28-27).
  • Men: Services (Joginder Singh 22, Narender Grewal 21, Abhishek YP 15) bt Haryana (Deepak Rathee 23, Himanshu S 20, Hemant S 20) 87-70 (19-15, 28-24, 9-19, 31-12).
Final Standings

  • 1. Chhattisgarh
  • 2. Delhi
  • 3. Indian Railways
  • 4. Kerala
  • 5. Maharashtra
  • 6. Tamil Nadu
  • 7. Karnataka
  • 8. Telangana
  • 9. Madhya Pradesh
  • 10. Punjab
  • 1. Uttarakhand
  • 2. Tamil Nadu
  • 3. Services
  • 4. Haryana
  • 5. Karnataka
  • 6. Kerala
  • 7. Indian Railways
  • 8. Punjab
  • 9. Delhi
  • 10. Telangana

January 2, 2015

India's combined FIBA World ranking remains static at 51 at end of 2014

You may recall that 2014 was a pretty good year for Indian Basketball, particularly the Senior Men's team, who won gold at the Lusofonia Games, won the South Asian Basketball Championship, defeated China at the FIBA Asia Cup, and got the silver medal at 3x3 basketball at the Asian Beach Games. And yet, at the start of the new calender year, little has changed for India's overall ranking among the world's top basketball teams.

Despite their successes, India's combined FIBA ranking (Men, Women, Boys, Girls) has remained static at 51 - the same as last year - after the last update by FIBA on December 7, 2014. This is due to the fact that none of India's successes this year came in the big FIBA or FIBA zone championships, like the FIBA Asia or FIBA World championships. Tournaments like the Lusofonia Games, the FIBA Asia Cup, the Asian Games, the Asian Beach Games, etc. don't contribute to the final FIBA rankings.

FIBA – the world’s governing body of basketball – bases their world rankings on the major FIBA World Championships, the continental championships, and the Olympic Games. Rankings are made based on the performance of each country’s Men’s, Women’s, and Youth rankings where applicable. Youth rankings are based on the performances of the U19, U18, U17, or U16 teams in international competitions.

India's Men remain ranked 61st in FIBA worldwide.

India's U18 boys and girls teams took part in the big FIBA Asia U18 championships but none of the squads improved on India's previous performances. After winning gold at the South Asian Basketball Association (SABA) Qualifiers, India headed to Qatar for the U18 FIBA Asia Championship. The boys' disappointed, finishing 13th (last), losing two of their three Preliminary Round games and failing to qualify for the next stage of the tournament. Their performance dropped them three spots to 51st in the world.

India's U18 girls once again played in the tougher Level I of the FIBA Asia U18 Championship for Women in Amman (Jordan). Thy lost all their preliminary group games but won the crucial Level I qualifier against Malaysia to finish sixth and remain in the higher fray of the competition for 2016. Despite this, India's FIBA ranking in this division dropped two spots to 39th.

India's Senior Women had a quiet and relatively underwhelming year, taking part in only the Lusofonia Games (bronze medal), the Asian Games (sixth place out of 11), and the Asian Beach Games (0-3, seventh place). Despite the inactivity, perhaps the falling performances of other world teams saw Indian Women rise one spot to 39th.

Once again, world champions in all the formats of the sport internationally, USA is dominating the FIBA World rankings, holding the number one spot in the Men, Women, Boys, Girls, and Combined sections.

What USA is to the rest of the world is what China is to Asia. The Chinese are ranked number one in all the various sections across the continent. India has risen one spot to eighth-place in the FIBA Asia Combined rankings.

2015 will bring back the big FIBA Asia Championships for Men and Women - both designated to be held in China - between August to October. The FIBA Asia U16 Championships will also be held, in July for boys and September for girls. India will be hoping to participate in all four competitions and have a chance to improve their world/Asia rankings. The world U19 FIBA Championships - for both Men and Women - will also be held in 2015.

India's FIBA Rankings at end of 2014
  • Combined: 51 (58.5 points; Change 0)
  • Men: 61 (6.9 points; Change 0)
  • Women: 39 (15.6 points: Change +1)
  • Boys: 51 (12.9 points; Change -3)
  • Girls: 39 (23.1 points; Change -2)