March 18, 2019

Four Indian girls selected for the NCAA Next Generation camp in the USA

'March Madness', the annual NCAA college basketball tournament in the USA, is here. And this year, a few young Indians will get closely involved in that wonderful festival of hoops.

For the second year, the NCAA, the NBA, and USA Basketball are joining hands for NCAA Next Generation, described as an "unprecedented opportunities for potential future student-athletes and celebrate the future of college basketball." Last year, the Next Generation programme brought top high-school age prospects to witness the NCAA's tournament first-hand while also take part in on-court/off-court programming.

Returning for the second year, this camp will feature a Women's Next Generation event, too, featuring high-school age players from USA and those picked from NBA Academies around the world. This is where the Indian participants come in: four Indian girls who shone at this year's Women's camp at the NBA India Academy will be heading for five-day extensive training in the United States. The camp will be held in Tampa, Florida, from April 3-7. This trip will include the opportunity to attend the NCAA Women's Final Four in Tampa to watch the best collegiate players in the USA in action.

Participants from other international women's academies including Africa, Australia, China, Mexico, and Europe will also take part. The camp will be led by NBA Academy Women's programme's technical directors Jennifer Azzi and Blair Hardeik and culminate with exhibition games between the participants.

India's invitees to the camp are: Ann Mary Zachariah (Kerala), Grishma Niranjan (Karnataka), Harsimran Kaur (Punjab), and Siya Deodhar (Maharashtra). Out of this group, Niranjan was the MVP of this year's Women's camp at the NBA India Academy. This will be Niranjan's second recent trip to the USA, after she took part in the Basketball Without Borders global camp in Charlotte during the NBA All Star Weekend.

An in-depth preview of the camp, including profile/interviews of the participating Indian players, was written by Amit Sampat for The Times of India and can be accessed here.

"Next Generation is a valuable initiative to work with our stakeholder groups to unify the game," said NCAA Vice President of Women’s Basketball Lynn Holzman. "Including women’s programming for the first time in the upcoming Women’s Final Four is an exciting opportunity, and we look forward to meeting and working with these women’s players from all over the world."

March 5, 2019

NBA India's Managing Director Yannick Colaco to step down from his position

For the past handful of years, the NBA's brand has grown in India exponentially and in a variety of players, like an uber-talented offensive player finding a myriad of ways to land the ball in the basket. The league has expanded its relationship with domestic partners, grown the grassroots programmes, reached out to more fans than ever through TV and social media, welcomed more NBA stars to our shores, and this year, announced the first ever NBA preseason game in India.

While the league's logo has been in the forefront of this growth, the man in the backgrounds helping to manage the league's India office was Yannick Colaco. Now, after six years as the Managing Director and Vice-President of NBA India, Colaco will step down from his position.

Colaco was hired for his current role in February 2013. NBA VP of global business operations Diane Gotua will relocate from New York to the NBA’s Mumbai office to lead the business in India on an interim basis and oversee the search for a new managing director.

"The NBA’s popularity and business in India have seen significant growth under Yannick’s leadership over the past six years," said Mark Tatum, the Deputy Commissioner of the NBA. "We thank Yannick for his contributions during his tenure as Managing Director and are grateful to have Diane assist with the transition."

"I am extremely thankful to have played a part in the growth of the NBA in India," Colaco said. "From broadening the distribution of our games to our plan to bring the live game experience to fans, the NBA’s business in India has never been better. It has been incredible living and breathing the NBA everyday over the past six years, and I look forward to applying my NBA experience as I move onto my next professional challenge."

Colaco spearheaded several programmes to help the NBA grow in India, including the formation of the NBA's partnership with Reliance Foundation for their grassroots basketball training programme, the launch of the NBA India Academy in Greater Noida, the increase in live NBA games on Indian TV (with introduction of Hindi commentary too), the growth of India's retail presence through, partnering with fantasy sports website Dream11, and much more.

While his tenure will leave a positive legacy for the NBA in India, his departure does come at an inopportune time, with the NBA preparing for the first-ever NBA India Games featuring the Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers this October. Hopefully, the transition to new leadership is smooth to oversee the Games and the NBA's next major steps in the Indian market.

March 2, 2019

Hoopdarshan Episode 74: Building sports culture in India - with Arka Bhattarcharya

After a long absence, Hoopdarshan returns for Episode 74, with our attention focused towards the future. Hosts Kaushik Lakshman and Karan Madhok are joined by sports journalist Arka Bhattacharya of The Field to discuss building sustainable sports culture in India, lessons for a future Indian pro basketball league, and the current sports-media landscape.

In addition, Kaushik and Karan also discuss the dwindling NBA All Star Weekend and rant about the malaise around their respective favourite NBA franchises, the Lakers and the Knicks, and LeBron and Porzingis, and Anthony Davis and everything else.

Hoopdarshan is the truest voice of Indian basketball, and since we're such hopeless fans of the game, it will become the voice of everything basketball related we love, from the NBA to international hoops, too. On every episode of Hoopdarshan, we will be inviting a special guest to interview or chat to about a variety of topics. With expert insight from some of the brightest and most-involved people in the world of Indian basketball, we hope to bring this conversation to a many more interested fans, players, and followers of the game.

Make sure to follow Hoopdarshan on Soundcloud or search for 'Hoopdarshan' on the iTunes Store! Auto-sync Hoopdarshan to your preferred podcast app NOW!

Hoopdarshan can be found on...

February 23, 2019

NBA has launched a game-show in India called Jabong Hoop Wars. It's a thing.

Here are some facts:

- The NBA is expanding in India in a big way, with grassroots basketball training programmes, the elite-level Academy, visits from top players, and for the first time this year, an NBA preseason game in India.
- One of the NBA's avenues for reaching out to a larger, younger audience - an audience that aren't necessarily core-NBA fans to begin with - is employing social -media celebrities for events and ad campaigns. Hence, Rannvijay Singha and Bhuvan Bam at the All Star Weekend, or Rannvijay Singha and the rapper Divine on the 'This is why we play' ad campaign, or Rannvijay Singha in... Well, you get the point.
- The NBA has a partnership with merchandise seller Jabong for the NBA Store India.
- Now, Jabong and NBA India have a game show. It's called Jabong Hoop Wars.

The first two episodes of Jabong Hoop Wars are available to stream online. The show is hosted by Benasha Soonawalla. It features three contestants who take part in several rounds of loosely-NBA-related games. At some point, a special guest shows up to spice things up a bit, presumably.

Here, for example, is Episode 2:

Round 1 was a trivia round, where contestants were asked easy questions to begin with, such as what team plays home at the Madison Square Garden, and which player won an Oscar for the short "Dear Basketball" (The clues for the latter were: John Legend, Kobe Bryant, Morgan Freeman).

Priyank Sharma, who we are told is an actor/dancer, was the special guest. Round 2 was a basketball challenge of shooting free throws while running on a treadmill.

Round 3 was some form of dumb-charades on a trampoline.

This is the show. End of facts.

February 15, 2019

India's NBA G-League player Amjyot Singh has joined the Wisconsin Herd

If you're an Indian basketball fan feeling particularly prepared to jump on a new G-League bandwagon, it's time to join the herd.

The Wisconsin Herd, to be exact. Amjyot Singh, the Chandigarh-born Indian basketball star who as been in the NBA G-League for the past 1.5 years with the OKC Blue, announced that he was officially signing with the Herd with an Instagram post on Thursday. The Herd are the G-League affiliate of the Milwaukee Bucks, who currently hold the best record in the NBA. The team is based out of Oshkosh in Wisconsin.

Singh, 27, saw his role limited in just six appearances with the Blue this season, and hadn't suited up for them after November. He's only the second Indian to play in the G-League, following Satnam Singh, who played two years for the Texas Legends. Amjyot is averaging 2.5 points and 0.86 rebounds in 36 total G-League games played since last season.

Singh is a 6-foot-8 forward who rose in recent years to become one of the top players for India's national basketball team. He has been the team's leading scorer in most major international tournaments over the past six years, and also played professionally in Japan's Development League for a season.

While the Blue are riding high and stand 2nd in the Western Conference, the Herd's record is only 9-26, at the bottom of the East. Despite this, the new opportunity could open up more playing time for Singh, who will likely be backing up Herd's power forward Michael Qualls for the rest of the season.

Now that he'll be playing in the same franchise-umbrella as Giannis Antetokounmpo, would it be too wild to imagine a team featuring both the 'Greek Freak' and the 'Sikh Freak' in the same line-up? Singh, and his Indian basketball family, will be hoping that this dream to become a reality!

February 13, 2019

Indian prospects Harshwardhan Tomar and Grishma Niranjan to take part in Basketball Without Borders Global Camp at 2019 All Star Weekend

The biggest basketball stars in the world will be in Charlotte this weekend for the NBA All Star extravaganza. So will local, national, and international celebrities, bringing in their own star power. The global media will turn its lenses for this massive basketball festival.

But in midst of all the fun, there will also be a lot of serious sport, of course. And while most of the world keeps its eyes on the NBA stars, a new crew of young international prospects will be taking the courts in Charlotte, too, with the hope to announce their presence as basketball's next big things. The NBA and FIBA announced that the top 63 boys and girls from 31 countries and regions around the world will travel to Charlotte for the fifth annual Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Global Camp. The camp, which will feature several NBA players and coaches as mentors, will be held from February 15-17 at the Queens University of Charlotte Levine Center for Wellness and Recreation as part of NBA All-Star 2019.

And, as it has been the case for the past few years, a couple of rising hoop stars from India - Harshwardhan Tomar and Grishma Niranjan - will be representing our tricolour flag in Charlotte, hoping to make a big impression in front of scouts and coaches to further their own careers, and also return home with an experience of a lifetime.

Originally from Madhya Pradesh's Bhind district, the 6-7 forward Tomar (18) made waves several years ago when he was picked to play for Italy's Stellazzurra Academy. Since then, Tomar has represented India's national teams at the U18 and U16 FIBA Asia stage. Last year, he was among the 8 winners of the ACG-NBA Jump programme to win admission to the NBA Academy India in Greater Noida.

Niranjan (17), a point guard from Bengaluru, is the reigning MVP of the NBA Academy India's second women's camp, held in Greater Noida last month. She also represented India at the last FIBA Asia U16 Championship.

According to ESPN's Jonathan Givony, the BWB Global Camp has quickly ascended to the top of NBA executives' calendars as a must-scout event. "It's become somewhat of a "rite of passage" for internationals vying to join the NBA, something that is reflected in the number of players drafted since its inception in 2015," Givony wrote. Some of the big international names to watch will include Deni Avdija (Israel), Amar Sylla (Senegal), Killian Hayes (France), Khalifa Diop (Senegal), and Matej Rudan (Croatia).

2019 NBA All-Stars Nikola Jokić (Denver Nuggets; Serbia) and Nikola Vučević (Orlando Magic; Montenegro), 2018 No. 1 overall draft pick and former BWB camper Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns; Bahamas; BWB Global 2016), and 2017-18 All-Rookie Second Team member Bogdan Bogdanović (Sacramento Kings; Serbia) will serve as coaches at the BWB Global Camp. They will be joined by NBA veteran Festus Ezeli (Nigeria), former NBA players Adonal Foyle (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) and Michael Ray Richardson (USA), Women's Basketball Hall of Fame member Jennifer Azzi (USA), former WNBA players Allison Feaster (USA), Ashley Battle (USA), Taj McWilliams-Franklin (USA), Astou N'Diaye (Senegal) and Andrea Stinson (USA), as well as select players participating in NBA All-Star 2019. Charlotte Hornets assistant coaches Dutch Gaitley (USA), Nate Mitchell (Canada) and Ronald Nored (USA), along with 76ers assistant coach John Bryant (USA) and Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Mark Madsen (USA) will also serve as BWB Global coaches.

Photo: NBAE/Getty Images
Players and coaches will lead the campers through a variety of activities on and off the court, including movement efficiency, skill development stations, shooting and skills competitions, 5-on-5 games, and daily life skills seminars focusing on health, leadership and communication. One boy and one girl will be named BWB Global Camp MVPs at the conclusion of the three-day camp.

The campers will attend the Rising Stars event, All-Star Saturday Night, and the 68th NBA All-Star Game at Spectrum Center.

The full list of BWB Global Camp 2019 participants is available here.

Last year's BWB Global Camp featured India's Pushpa Senthil Kumar, Princepal Singh and Sejin Mathew.

January 31, 2019

Hoopdarshan Episode 73: NBA Midterms with Nikhila Makker

With the season right around its midway point, Hoopdarshan returns with an All-NBA special episode. Joined by special guest and freelance sports journalist Nikhila Makker, co-hosts Kaushik Lakshman and Karan Madhok talk about the Warriors' dominance, James Harden pros/cons, Kyrie's worth, Pacers vs. Kings in India, and the quality (or lack thereof) of NBA beards.

Additionally in Episode 73, Kaushik and Karan also discussed Jeena Skaria's professional turn to Australia, winners of the recently-concluded Senior Nationals in Bhavnagar, and much more!

Hoopdarshan is the truest voice of Indian basketball, and since we're such hopeless fans of the game, it will become the voice of everything basketball related we love, from the NBA to international hoops, too. On every episode of Hoopdarshan, we will be inviting a special guest to interview or chat to about a variety of topics. With expert insight from some of the brightest and most-involved people in the world of Indian basketball, we hope to bring this conversation to a many more interested fans, players, and followers of the game.

Make sure to follow Hoopdarshan on Soundcloud or search for 'Hoopdarshan' on the iTunes Store! Auto-sync Hoopdarshan to your preferred podcast app NOW!

Hoopdarshan can be found on...

January 27, 2019

Prashanti Singh becomes the first basketball player to receive the prestigious Padma Shri award

Just when it seemed unlikely that her brilliant career could be exalted even higher, former Indian basketball captain Prashanti Singh from Varanasi has become the first basketball player in history to be handed the Padma Shri award! The Padma Shri is the fourth-highest civilian honour for Indian citizens and is handed annually on the Republic Day celebrations.

94 individuals from the fields of arts, medicine, science, sports, social work, social sciences, and more were conferred this year's Padma Shri on Saturday, January 26, 2019. Prashanti, who last year became only the third women to win the Arjuna Award in basketball two years ago, was among the eight sports stars named in this year's Padma Shri list. The rest included World Cup-winning cricketer Gautam Gambhir, India football captain Sunil Chhetri, World Championship silver medallist wrestler Bajrang Punia, Dronavalli Harika (Chess), Sharath Kamal (Table Tennis), Bombayla Devi Laishram (Archery), and Ajay Thakur (Kabaddi).

Singh, a 34-year-old former shooting guard for India's national team, is the most decorated women basketball player in India, holding the national record for most number of medals (22) in national championships for Delhi while she was an employee for MTNL. She has represented the national team in the 2006 Commonwealth Games, the 2010 and 2014 Asian Games, and six FIBA Asia Women’s Championships (2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013), plus one more at the junior level.

Prashanti Singh is among the star-studded "Singh Sisters" of Varanasi, four of whom have represented India's national team and brought home numerous international and domestic honours.

Singh's Padma Shri award is a pleasant surprise, especially considering that there have been several great basketball players throughout Indian history in both Men's and Women's divisions - including Khushi Ram, Abbas Moontasir, Ajmer Singh, Geethu Anna Rahul, and many more who are still active - who have been deserving, but were never conferred this honour.

January 22, 2019

Former NBA champion and All Star Rashard Lewis will visit India from Jan 26-29

For most of his 16-year career, Rashard Lewis was a pure, unadulterated, scoring machine. He could make three-pointers look as easy as layups, and he had the ability to put the ball down and actually lay it up with ease, too. He spent time as his team's first option, and then found success as a role player. He earned All Star accolades, and - in a limited role - even won an NBA championship.

Now, the former star will become the latest NBA player to visit India, with an eye at promoting the growth of basketball in the country.

The NBA recently announced that Lewis will visit India from Republic Day (January 26) till January 29 this month. He will be here primarily to meet the participants of the Reliance Jr. NBA programme in Bengaluru.

"The NBA's contribution to the growth of basketball in India has been amazing," said Lewis. "There's a lot more in store for NBA fans in India this year, and I'm excited to be part of the celebration of the game."

Lewis was drafted straight out of high school by the Seattle Supersonics in the second round of the 1998 NBA Draft. While it took a couple years for his career to gain momentum, he soon found his stride and became a star for Seattle, making many teams regret overlooking him in his draft class. The nine Sonics' years were the most dominant of his individual career, playing besides great guards like Gary Payton and Ray Allen. He was named an All Star in 2005 and averaged a career-best 22.4 ppg in 2006-07. Lewis joined the Orlando Magic in a lucrative sign-and-trade in 2007, and in 2009 was an All Star and made it to the NBA Finals with Orlando. After a brief stopover with the Wizards, Lewis ended his career with the Miami Heat, where he played a small role in the 2013 NBA championship squad led by LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh.

In 2017, Lewis joined the 3 Headed Monsters of the BIG3 basketball league. Lewis was awarded MVP of the season, but the Monsters lost in the Finals to the Trilogy.

January 20, 2019

Khelo India Youth Games 2019: Tamil Nadu and Punjab share basketball honours

If the history of recent basketball successes in India are starting to sound repetitive, it's because a couple of the country's strongest hubs seem to have gotten even stronger, fortifying their defences, and now, securing their future. At the Khelo India Youth Games (KIYG) 2019 in Pune - a showcase of the best young talent in different age group and gendered events from around the country - Tamil Nadu and Punjab teams qualified for three of the four finals each in the basketball tournament. And after the clinching games at the TT Hall Courts on Saturday, Tamil Nadu won both the U21 golds, while Punjab scored top-place in both the U17 events.

Earlier this month, India's top senior basketball teams took part in the National Championship in Gujarat. In a showcase of the best talent in the country, Punjab won the men's gold medal, while Tamil Nadu took bronze. In the women's event Indian Railways (based in TN) beat the TN state team in the final.

But if the 'Senior Nationals' were a showcase of the present of Indian basketball, the second KIYG were a nod towards its future. In an extended basketball fray to include teams of both U21 and U17 categories, it was the young talent from the same states that showcased that they are ready to stretch this North-South rivalry for many more years.

TN and Punjab faced-off in perhaps the most anticipated of the games on Saturday, the Boys U21 final. Led by Hariram Raghupathy (19) and Arvind Kumar (18), TN turned around a 20-12 first quarter deficit with a dominating second period, and never let their foot off the gas pedal to win 70-59. Ajay Kumar had 21 for Punjab in the loss.

TN's U21 girls repeated the boys' success against Karnataka. While it was a close 45-43 game at halftime TN were able to get into their groove in the second period to win 82-68. Pushpa Senthil Kumar, who was recently named MVP of the Senior Nationals, led all scorers with 27 for TN in the final, while her teammate Dharshani Thirunavukkarasu added 18. Bhandavya Hemmige led Karnataka with 21 and Lopamudra Thimmayam K added 17.

Punjab had the run of the U17 basketball events. In a high-scoring boys' final, Navkaman Singh (28), Rajan (22), Avinder Singh (20) all pitched in to a 91-78 win over Rajasthan. Rajasthan trailed 55-29 at halftime and were able to make up some of their deficit thanks to efforts of Rishab Mathur (30) and Rajveer Bhati (21), but in the end, it wasn't enough.

U17 girls was, once again, Punjab against Tamil Nadu. In a tightly-contested game, Punjab held the advantage but TN remained close on their heels throughout. It was a heroic finale for Punjab's Harsimran Dhami, who exploded for 45 points to keep her squad racing ahead towards a 76-71 win. Sathiya was TN's high scorer with 23

The bronze medal games were also played on Saturday, and in what seemed like almost a coordinated effort, the teams from Kerala swept all four divisions. In the U21 section, high-flyer Sejin Mathew (28) and Muhammed Noushad (22) led the way to a close 79-73 win over hosts Maharashtra. Sameer Qureshi had a team-high 18 for Maharashtra in the loss. Kerala's U21 girls easily beat Uttar Pradesh 60-34 in the women's bronze-medal game, led by Jayalaxmi VJ (27).

Kerala's U17 boys relied on the trio of Aaron Blessen (20), Niyath (17), and Jeoram George (17) to blow past Haryana (Vikrany 21) 71-59 in their bronze medal triumph. Kerala's U17 girls defeated hosts Maharashtra 79-68 to finish third. Akshaya Philip led all scorers with 34 for Kerala while Ann Mary Zachariah added 17. Maharashtra were led by Suzzane Pinto's 21 in the loss.

Final Standings

U21 Men
  • 1. Tamil Nadu
  • 2. Punjab
  • 3. Kerala

U21 Women
  • 1. Tamil Nadu
  • 2. Karnataka
  • 3. Kerala

U17 Men
  • 1. Punjab
  • 2. Rajasthan
  • 3. Kerala

U17 Women
  • 1. Punjab
  • 2. Tamil Nadu
  • 3. Kerala

January 19, 2019

NBA Academy India to host second Women's programme next week

In 2017, the NBA opened doors to its first-ever elite India basketball Academy in Greater Noida, inviting dozens of the top young men from around the country to practice, study, breathe, and live basketball. While the boys have been lodged as permanent boarders at the Academy itself, the NBA extended its reach last year to invite talented young women, too, for a first-time women's programme, featuring international basketball trainers to conduct the camp. The programme was a huge success, shifting the spotlight towards the top young female players in India, and famously, allowing the opportunity for Bengaluru's Sanjana Ramesh to be singled out and earn an NCAA D1 scholarship to Northern Arizona.

Now, less than eight months after the first camp, the NBA will host the second NBA Academy India Women's Programme, at the Jaypee Greens Integrated Sports Complex in Greater Noida from January 22-25, 2019. 24 female prospects aged 17-and-under have been invited from across the country to participate in this camp. 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist and Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame member Jennifer Azzi and former college coach Blair Hardiek – the global technical directors for women’s programming across the league’s seven academies – will oversee this year’s camp.

Last year, Sanjana Ramesh and Vaishnavi Yadav were named camp co-MVPs.

January 17, 2019

India's basketball captain Jeena Skaria signs with Ringwood Hawks of Australia's "Big V" League

Kerala-born Jeena Skaria, the captain of India's women's basketball team and arguably the most-talented women's player in the country right now, has taken the biggest leap of her career. Skaria (25) has been signed by the Ringwood Hawks, a professional basketball team in the "Big V" League of Australia and based in Melbourne. Skaria has become the second Indian woman to sign for an Australian league, following in the footsteps of her fellow Keralite Geethu Anna Rahul (formerly Jose) who did it for the same team - the Hawks - thirteen years ago.

Skaria had been in talks with the Hawks ever since their Kerala tour, during the 'International Hoopathon' event, in late 2017, where she impressed the coaches and management. But it wasn't until Wednesday this week that Ringwood officially announced that they will be bringing Skaria over.

"We are very appreciative of the assistance we have received from the Basketball Federation of India and the great people of Team Rebound, the Kerala Basketball Association and Jeena’s employer the Kerala State Electricity Board," said the "Lady Hawks" head coach Tim Mottin. "We can’t wait to have Jeena here on court and see what impact she can have for us on and off the court."

The 5'10" forward Skaria has been the captain of India's Women's national team for the last few years, including the squad that won Division B of the FIBA Asia Women's Championship in Bengaluru two years ago. She also led her state team Kerala to a national championship at the Senior Nationals earlier that year. She has been India's top performer through a string of major international tournaments ever since breaking into the senior team. Last year, she was named Basketball Player of the Year by popular choice by the Times of India Sports Awards.

Skaria's predecessor, Rahul, played for the Hawks from 2006-2008, becoming the first Indian woman to ever play professional basketball abroad. She was dominant in her stint in the league, and won the "Big V" league MVP award in 2008.

January 13, 2019

Punjab (Men) and Indian Railways (Women) are India's 2019 National Basketball Champions!

After eight days of the highest-level of basketball India had to offer, the last teams standings offered some familiar faces. Held in Bhavnagar, Gujarat, the 69th National Basketball Championship for Men and Women concluded on Saturday, January 12 with the finales. Indian Railways, the reigning women's champions, repeated their triumph again this year with a 88-71 victory over Tamil Nadu. The star-studded Punjab Men squad crept pass Services 74-65 to win the gold in their division.

The 'Senior Nationals', organised by the Gujarat State Basketball Association and the Basketball Federation of India (BFI), featured 32 Men's and 27 Women's squads from state and units across India. The tournament was held at Bhavnagar's Sisdar Sports Complex and tipped off on January 5.

At the finals on Sunday, Railways started a little slow against the talented TN squad, but turned things around after the first quarter. Leading 42-40 at halftime, Railways kicked into top gear in the third with a 27-15 run that essentially pulled the game away for good. International stars Rajapriyadarshani Rajaganapathi (23) and Navaneetha PU (16) led the way to a 88-71 Indian Railways triumph. Sathya scored 21 for TN in the loss.

The Men's finale was a closer affair most of the way, featuring two strong and gritty squads, Punjab and Services. Both teams remained neck to neck most of the way, with Punjab holding only a slim 53-51 lead after three quarters. Punjab, who had shocked holders TN in overtime on Friday, found their extra surge in the fourth quarter at the final. The duo of Arshpreet Singh Bhullar (24) and Jagdeep Singh Bains (19) helped see them through to the 74-65 win. India's international point guard Joginder Singh led Services with 26.

Punjab's Amritpal Singh, the international star who recovered from a serious injury to star in this tournament, was named the Men's MVP. The Women's MVP award went to Tamil Nadu's unstoppable post-threat Pushpa Senthil Kumar.

This was Indian Railways' incredible 29th title in the Nationals, while Punjab won theirs for the seventh time - and the first since Chennai 2011.

Tamil Nadu finished third in the Men's division with a 84-65 with over Karnataka, led by Muin Bek Hafeez (20), Justin Joseph (19), and Hariram Ragupathy (17). Jitender scored 17 for Karnataka while Rahul Sarathy added 16. The Women's third place was a high-octane matchup between Kerala and Chhattisgarh. Chhattisgarh's giant player Poonam Chaturvedi dropped 41 points, but Kerala survived to a 7--73 win led by their national team veterans Jeena Scaria (21) and Poojamol Kochuparambu (18).

Final Scores
  • Women: Indian Railways (Rajapriyadarshani Rajaganapathi 23, Navaneetha PU 16, Ramya 13) bt. Tamil Nadu (Sathya 21) 88-71 [18-23, 24-17, 27-15, 19-16].
  • Men: Punjab (Arshpreet Singh Bhullar 24, Jagdeep Singh Bains 19, Amritpal Singh 15) bt. Services (Joginder Singh 26) 74-65 [22-19, 15-14, 17-18, 20-14].

Final Standings

  • 1. Indian Railways
  • 2. Tamil Nadu
  • 3. Kerala
  • 4. Chhattisgarh
  • 5. Telangana

  • 1. Punjab
  • 2. Services
  • 3. Tamil Nadu
  • 4. Karnataka
  • 5. Uttarakhand

January 9, 2019

2nd Khelo India Youth Games to tip off in Pune, Maharashtra

For the second-straight year, the Khelo India programme of the government's Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports will organise a massive, nationwide gathering of the best young athletes in dozens of sporting disciplines from across the country. The 2019 Khelo India Youth Games (formerly Khelo India School Games) will be held in Pune, Maharashtra this year, starting on Wednesday. The Games are scheduled from January 9-20, 2019.

Ranging from ages 10-21, this year's KIYG are expected to host over 6,000 athletes between the ages of 10-21 in 18 different sporting disciplines. Expanded divisions of sports will mean that young Youth Olympic champions, World Cadet Wrestling gold medallists, Olympian athletes and medal-winning shooters will be among the participating athletes this year.

The KIYG's basketball tournament is set to begin at the TT Hall Courts from January 15. The Basketball fray will be extended from last year and will be held in four different sub-categories: Under 21 boys, Under 21 girls, Under 17 boys, Under 17 girls. At the KISG in Delhi last year, Kerala (Girls) and Punjab (Boys) emerged as champions. With a overall tally of 38 gold medals, Haryana were crowned overall champions of the KISG 2018.

The Star Sports Network will broadcast KIYG 2019.

January 5, 2019

Indian basketball's biggest domestic tournament - the Senior Nationals - begin in Bhavnagar, Gujarat

You would've seen the anticipation building over the past few days. Inter-state events around the country. Each state/unit team lining up for the long road trip. Blessings and wishes on social media. Nerves. Stress. Anticipation. Hope.

Today, the biggest festival of domestic hoops in India - the 69th National Basketball Championship for Men and Women - will tip off in Bhavnagar, Gujarat. The 'Senior Nationals', organised by the Gujarat State Basketball Association and the Basketball Federation of India (BFI), will feature dozens of the top state and unit teams from January 5-12, 2019 at the city's Sisdar Sports Complex.

69th Senior Nationals Participating Teams

  • Level 1, Group A: Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Gujarat.
  • Level 1, Group B: Services, Indian Railways, Chandigarh, Uttarakhand, Kerala.
  • Level 2, Group C: Telangana, Delhi, Goa, Meghalaya, Mizoram.
  • Level 2, Group D: Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland.
  • Level 2, Group E: Haryana, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Puducherry, West Bengal.
  • Level 2, Group F: Odisha, Assam, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh.

  • Level 1, Group A: Indian Railways, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, West Bengal.
  • Level 1, Group B: Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana.
  • Level 2, Group C: Punjab, Goa, Gujarat, Puducherry, Uttarakhand.
  • Level 2, Group D: Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh, Haryana, Odisha.
  • Level 2, Group E: Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya.
  • Level 2, Group F: Rajasthan, Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand.

Last year's Senior Nationals were held in Chennai, and the host Men's team - Tamil Nadu - took home the gold medal in a final win over Services. The women's tournament was won by Indian Railways in a blowout over Chhattisgarh. All four of these teams will again be among the favourites for the title at Bhavnagar, as well as Punjab and Indian Railways (Men) and Karnataka and Kerala (Women).