This article was first published in my 'Hoopistani' column for The Times of India Sports on February 27, 2018. Click here to read the original piece.
For 26-year-old Amjyot Singh, the cricketer-turned-basketball superstar from Chandigarh, the moment was at the NBA G-League Draft on October 21, when his name was selected by the Oklahoma City Blue. A week later, he donned the jersey and stepped on court for the Blue, officially joining the select club of Indians in the NBA’s minor league.
Singh and Scaria are two basketball maestros in their prime, arguable the best male and female basketball players in the country right now. It was only right, then, that on one of the biggest nights in India sports, the two were honoured for their memorable performances over the past year.
Basketball honours were handed out for the first time at the Times of India Sports Awards (TOISA-2018) on Monday. Singh was named the Basketball Player of the Year by the jury’s choice, and Scaria the Basketball Player of the Year by popular choice. Both players were in attendance at the gala event in Mumbai on Monday, among a number of India’s top athletes. Badminton star Kidambi Srikanth claimed the highest honour of the night as India’s 2018 Sportsman of the Year.
Jeena Scaria took centre-stage for her home state when she led Kerala to their first Senior Nationals gold medal since the mid-eighties. She was one of India’s top players in the squad that won Division B at the FIBA Asia Women’s Cup in Bengaluru in July. She was also part of India’s 3×3 team which made it to the semi-final of the FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup in Mongolia in late October.
Both players will now hope to script another memorable year in 2018. Singh continues to earn bit minutes for the Blue and is growing more comfortable in the league with each passing game.
Later this year, India will hope that he returns to the national team for a number of important tournaments, including the Common Wealth Games in Australia, FIBA World Cup Qualifiers in Syria and Jordan, and the Asian Games in Indonesia. Scaria will be counted on to be a leader for India’s Women’s team at the CommonWealth Games and the Asian Games, too.
This honour should boost the confidence of both these talented players so they can elevate their game to an even higher level over the next few years.