January 30, 2011

Indian Basketball Game Tape on YouTube

I'm a self-confessed nerd for watching basketball. I would watch it till my eyes are sore and then watch it a little more. No other factor in life has been able to wake me up consistently on early mornings except for early morning live basketball games.

Knowing that, imagine my joy when I discovered the DVDs of all of India's Men and Women's teams' matches at the 2010 Asian Games in China! This was the first time that India had participated in the basketball tournament of the games since 1982, back when India hosted the Games. The teams didn't really return with a record to write home about (1-5 for the Men, 0-3 for the Women), but hey - at least they were there, participating against the best in Asia, playing in the awesome basketball courts in Guangzhou at such a large stage.

So I set off on a mission to burn and upload all of the games available on the Basketball Federation of India's (BFI) new YouTube channel. Half a dozen games are already up on this channel and I will be uploading a few more over the next few days.

As a bonus, I also ended up spending hours and hours watching the games. I have proudly become a hermit, churning out DVD after DVD of this historical tournament for Indian basketball. Yes, the game tapes are flawed: there is no commentary, the camera usually stays in one position, and apart from a couple of games, there are no scores/timings on the side of the screen. It is almost like watching the games in person, but without any of the good experiences of watching it in person.

Still, the games make for interesting viewing. It was fun watching the likes of Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, Jagdeep Singh, Yadivinder Singh, Hareesh Koroth, and up and coming youngsters such as Dishant Shah battle out against Qatar, Chinese Taipei, Iran, Japan, Afghanistan, and Philippines. The Afghanistan game was the only one that the Men's team won, which was also a pre-qualifier to make it into the rest of the tournament. The team was led by American coach Bill Harris for this tournament. I was especially impressed by Vishesh's ever-evolving game: the young Indian captain shows a versatility between three positions and his all-round ability to score, create, rebound, and lead the team by example.

In the Women's tapes, the likes of Geethu Anna Jose, Akanksha Singh, Anitha P., Harjeet Kaur, and Prashanti Singh show up playing against some tough Asian talent. Led in this competition by former WNBA player Tamika Raymond, the Indian dames struck unlucky with the draw, as their first two games were against Asia's finest - China and South Korea - the two teams who went on to face each other in the Final. India had a close game against Thailand but couldn't hang on in the 4th quarter against them. The Thailand game is also a great exhibition of the talents of Geethu. A legendary Center for India, Geethu's game is a feast for the eyes of any basketball lover. She is a glutton for scoring through a variety of moves in the low post, is a good rebounder of the basketball, and her most underrated skill might be her inside passing, through which she was able to make her teammates better, too.

Once again, even though we lost a lot, and you will see more than good for India in these tapes, the attendance at the Asian Games was still a crucial step for development of basketball in India. Plus, for aspiring ball players and fans of the game in India, this is a chance to watch and learn from the best in the country in action.

Are you excited yet? All you need is a bit of patience, maybe a set of headphones bumping your favourite music, and an average internet connection. Go and check out BFI's YouTube channel now! Over time, videos from other major basketball tournaments, if available, will be uploaded on the channel.

By the way: a short recap of the Asian Games basketball tournament and India's performances is available here. Hosts China won gold in both the Men's and Women's divisions.

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