February 24, 2011

Punjab Men & TN Women win National Games Basketball Tournament

The basketball tournament at the 34th National Games in Ranchi came to an end on Tuesday, February 22nd, as Punjab Men and Tamil Nadu Women won their respective final games at the Harivansh Tana Bharat Indoor Stadium at city's Mega Sports Complex.

Led by explosive and experienced point guard TJ Sahi (28) points, Punjab sped past a hapless Uttarakhand side in the Final, leading the entire way to aa massive 97-57 win. The twin towers for Punjab, Jagdeep Singh and Yadwinder Singh had big games with 20 and 19 points respectively. Muralikrishna had 19 points for Uttarakhand in a losing effort.

The Women's game was a see-saw affair between Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh, the winners of the recent Federation Cup in Raipur. After trailing by two at the end of the first quarter, Tamil Nadu's legendary Center Geethu Anna Jose caught fire, scoring at will to end the game with 34 points and dominate the next three quarters. TN beat Chhattisgarh 79-45. Renjini Jose added 21 for TN. For Chhattisgarh, captain Anju Lakra had a valiant 25 points.

Earlier in the day, in the third-place match-ups, Tamil Nadu Men won bronze after defeating Services 81-68. Delhi Women got third place after a win over Maharashtra 79-59.

February 22, 2011

George Gervin and Katie Smith to hold clinics in Mumbai and Delhi

NBA Legend George Gervin and WNBA player Katie Smith are set to hold youth clinics in Mumbai and New Delhi during the finals of the Mahindra NBA Challenge recreational leagues in both of the cities on Saturday, February 26th and Sunday, February 27th, respectively. The event is being organised by The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the National Basketball Association (NBA), who announced that they will tip off their 2011 sports envoy program with their first-ever joint trip to India.

Gervin and Smith will be in India for a total of 10 days, from February 22nd to March 2nd. The Mumbai clinic will be held on February 26th from 4:30 PM - 9:00 PM at the Don Bosco High School in Matunga East. The Delhi clinic will be held on February 27th from 10:00 AM - 2:30 PM at the Oxford Senior Secondary School in E-Block, Vikas Puri.

George Gervin was a major star in the ABA and the NBA in the 70s and 80s. He played for the Virginia Squires, San Antonio Spurs, and Chicago Bulls in the ABA/NBA, becoming a three-time ABA all star, nine-time NBA all star, and named seven times to the All NBA team. He was also the MVP of the 1980 NBA All Star Game. He finished with an NBA career average of 26.2 points per game and ended his basketball playing career with a succesful stint in Europe, playing in Banco Roma (Italy) and TDK Manresa (Spain).

Katie Smith played college basketball at the Ohio State University and currently plays for WNBA team Washington Mystics. She is a two time WNBA champion (2006 and 2008) with the Detroit Shock and was also named the 2008 Finals MVP. Smith is a 6 time WNBA all star and has won the Olympic Gold Medal there times (2000, 2004, 2008) with the USA basketball team.

February 20, 2011

All Star Weekend Diary

I'm in Los Angeles for the All Star Weekend. Check out my daily blog of my expeeriences from Friday-Sunday at multitude of events that will be taking place, from the player practices, interviews with several all star players, Jam Session, The Rookie Challenge, Three Point Competition, Slam Dunk, and of course.... the 60th NBA All Star Game. Go to NBA.com/India for my blog!

I will be posting all of my pics and my more detailed interviews with all stars like Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Derrick Rose and the rest on this blog after I get back to India!

February 18, 2011

Basketball tournament at the National Games set to tip off Friday

The 34th National Games 2011, set in Jharkhand, is being held from February 12-26th in Ranchi, Jamshedpur, and Dhanbad, as intimated by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA). With over 30 different sporting events taking place, the tournament is featuring some of the best Indian athletes in the different fields.

The Basketball tournament at the National Games is set to be held from February 18th-22nd at the Harivansh Tana Bharat Indoor Stadium at the Mega Sports Complex in Ranchi. The tournament will feature the seven best teams in both the men’s and women’s divisions from the previous year’s Sr. National Basketball Championship, plus the team representing the state that host’s the tournament. Indian Railways are excluded from this tournament.

Thus, the top ranked teams from the 60th National Basketball Championship (Ludhiana) that will take part in this year’s tournament. Hosts Jharkhand qualify automatically as the eight seed in both divisions.


1. Punjab
2. Tamil Nadu
3. Uttarakhand
4. Services
5. Andhra Pradesh
6. Chhattisgarh
7. Karnataka
8. Jharkhand


1. Delhi
2. Chhattisgarh
3. Karnataka
4. Kerala
5. Tamil Nadu
6. Punjab
7. Maharashtra
8. Jharkhand

The last National Games were held back in February 2007 in Guwahati (Assam). Services (Men) and Tamil Nadu (Women) were the winners of the basketball tournament at this competition.

February 17, 2011

"The Iceman" George Gervin to come to India!

Three things come to my mind when I think George Gervin.

1) The Finger Roll: one of the prettiest moves in basketball, patented and perfected by Gervin.,
2) The Nickname: The Iceman - George Gervin named so for his cool demeanour and cooler game.
3) The Snoop Dogg song 'Hoop Dreams', where the rapper drops the line: "Double G, like George Gervin, cuz I'm so Ice BALLIN!'

Named one of the 50 best player in the NBA in 1997, one of the league's best ever scorers, George Gervin a 6 foot 7 inch shooting guard, who played in the ABA and the NBA from 1973-1986, is set to come to India from February 22 to March 2.

The event is being organised by The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the National Basketball Association (NBA), who announced that they will tip off their 2011 sports envoy program with their first-ever joint trip to India. NBA Hall of Famer George “The Iceman” Gervin and two-time WNBA Champion Katie Smith will visit Mumbai and New Delhi from February 22 to March 2, where they will conduct basketball clinics with Indian youth, meet with university students, and participate in local community events in underserved areas.

Sports diplomacy envoys build on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision of “smart power diplomacy,” which embraces the use of a full range of diplomatic tools – in this case the game of basketball – to bring people together and foster greater understanding among people and cultures.

Gervin, a former San Antonio Spur, is a three-time NBA champion and was voted to the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players list in 1996. Smith is a six-time WNBA All-Star for the Washington Mystics.

Gervin's career is highlighted by a legendary battle for the NBA's scoring crown that he had with fellow volume scorer David Thompson in 1978. On the last day of the season, Thompson scored 73 points, Gervin had 63 (including 33 points in the second quarter) and he was able to maintain his higher scoring average.

And if you need a reminder of how good this guy was, YouTube is always here to help...

More info to follow soon...

February 15, 2011

Western Railway & Chhattisgarh win thrilling final contests to hoist 25th Federation Cup trophy

In a thrilling and memorable conclusion to the 25th IMG-Reliance Federation Cup Basketball Championship for Men and Women in Raipur, Western Railway (Men) and hosts Chhattisgarh (Women) survived late comebacks by their opponents to lift the Federation Cup trophy on Tuesday, February 15th.

After squandering a 14-point half-time lead to a re-energised IOB (Chennai) side, Western Railway found themselves down by one point in the final seconds of the Men’s final. It took late game heroics from Railway’s point guard Arjun Singh ‘Golu’, who hit a drive-in jumper with just three seconds left on the clock to give Western Railway a 75-74 lead and seal an emotional victory for his team.

Behind leading scorer Vishesh Bhriguvanshi (28 points), Western Railway started off the final well, maintaining a good lead over IOB, and went into halftime up by 48-34. But they started to lose their rhythm in the third quarter as IOB began plotting a comeback. Led by the sharpshooting by Mihir Pandey, V. Mathew Revi (16), and the clutch play of international point guard Hareesh Koroth (20), IOB were on fire in the fourth quarter, barely missing a shot, and overturning an eight point deficit with five minutes to go into a one point lead in the dying seconds. It took Arjun’s game-winner in the last seconds to pull off an exciting Railway win.

Earlier in the day, another exciting game took shape in the Women’s final, as high-flying hosts Chhattisgarh took on traditional Indian powerhouse, Southern Railway. To cope with dominating Center Geethu Anna Jose, Chhattisgarh employed a double-team defense of Seema Singh and Jose Jilna. Their tactic worked early on, as Chhattisgarh played their trademark fast-paced game and led comfortably for most of the three quarters.

But Southern Railway began to make a valiant comeback in the final quarter, as Geethu was finally freed up from her shackles and began to find her baskets easily. As Chhattisgarh began to tire, Railway threatened to come back and steal the game away from the hosts. But their attempt was a too little too late, as Chhattisgarh survived to win 76-71. Chhattisgarh’s unstoppable twosome of Anju Lakra (22) and Pushpa M. (21) were once again the best players for their squad, whereas Geethu Anna Jose dropped 22 points for the losing side.

The matches to decide for third-place also took place earlier on Tuesday. After losing to Chhattisgarh in the Semi-Final, Delhi Women bounced back strong against Kerala behind Prashanti Singh (23) and Asha Hedge (18) to win 70-58. Soniya Joy had 16 points for Kerala.

In the Men’s 3rd/4th place match-up, Indian Army defeated ONGC 68-59 to seal third place. Navneet Singh led Army with 20 points and Anoop M. had 16 for ONGC.

At the end of the tournament, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi (Western Railway) and Prashanti Singh (Delhi) won the Federation Cup’s leading scorer awards.

Final Scores

Men: Western Railway 75 (Vishesh Bhriguvanshi 28, Yadwinder Singh 15) bt. IOB (Chennai) 74 (Hareesh Koroth 20, V Mathew Rewi 16).
Women: Chhattisgarh 76 (Anju Lakra 22, Pushpa M. 21, Seema Singh 13) bt. Southern Railway 71 (Geethu Anna Jose 22, Renjini Peter 15).

Third/Fourth Place Playoffs

Men: Indian Army 68 (Navneet Singh 20, Gopal Ram 13) bt. ONGC 59 (Anoop M. 16, Riyazuddin 15).
Women: Delhi 70 (Prashanti Singh 23, Asha Hedge 18) bt. Kerala 58 (Soniya Joy 16).

Leading Scorers

Men: Vishesh Bhriguvanshi (Western Railway)
Women: Prashanti Singh (Delhi)

Final Standings

Men: Western Railway, IOB (Chennai), Indian Army, ONGC
Women: Chhattisgarh, Southern Railway, Delhi, Kerala

Yadwinder Singh: Indian Basketball's Energy Bar

As the opposing team's best player dribbles towards his basket, Yadwinder Singh claps his hands together, almost violently, psyching himself up on defense. With an agile and quick 6 foot 6 inch frame, he is capable of guarding almost anyone, from speedy point guards to powerful, back to the basket post players. Yadwinder stays in front of the attacking player, blocking his vision at the basket. As the player drives in, he is forced to change his shot, which clanks off the side of the rim.

Yadwinder grunts loudly as he grabs the rebounds - it's his and his alone. He passes the ball to one of the guards on hid team and races ahead, beating everyone else on court to get to the opposition's basket. Before anyone else can react, he is in perfect position to receive the ball under the basket and lay it up. A few milliseconds later, he's back at the defensive end, turning passes into turnovers, and defense into offense, as he shows his range by nailing a smooth outside jumper.

There are few players in Indian basketball like Yadwinder Singh, or ‘Yadu', as we know him. A monster at both ends of the floor, Yadu seems to be on a constant energy rush, as if Red Bull has given him the wings to fly and keep flying. Defense to offense to defense and back and over and over again… There seems to be no full stops to his energy, just commas. Even when the game pauses for a free throw, Yadu will be talking, joking, shouting, instructing. Even when he is substituted out of the game, he doesn't stop, keeping his body warm and ready to go back in, jogging, doing push-ups… Constant movement.

I have seen enough NBA basketball to know of one (and only one) NBA comparison that comes to mind as I see Yadu, a Power Forward/Center, run the floor like a guard, defend and score like a big man, and motivate his teammates with an unbelievable rush of electricity and tenacity: Kevin Garnett.

His own motivations on the basketball court match Garnett's too: "I feel like basketball is a game all about the defensive effort," Yadu says, "For all the effort one puts in offense, you have to do double of that on the defensive end."

Yadu's defensive instincts, coupled with his fast-paced style of play, perfectly complement how his teams play. Whether he is representing Punjab, Railways, or India, Yadu believes that the secret to basketball success lies in his pace. "Basketball is one of the fastest games in the world," he says, "And if you aren't going to keep running, then why play it? If my team plays a perfect fast-paced game, we can be unstoppable."

Easily one of the most exciting players to watch in India, Yadu has become an important piece to the Senior National side, as was a starter for the country at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou (China). Compared to many other early starters, Yadu had a late introduction to basketball, a fact that perhaps makes his quick ascension up the game's ranks that much more remarkable.

Yadu, the son of a farmer, hails from a small Punjabi village called Rasulpur Khurd. He was athletically-aligned from a very young age, but there was another sport that he focused on: Discus.

"I used to be a very serious discus thrower in school," he said, "And I took part in several major athletic competitions on Punjab from my school." He was also part of his school's hockey team.

In 2002, not until he was 16 years old, and at that point, stood at 6 foot 3 inches, did he take admission in a school in Amritsar where his coach encouraged him to try basketball. From that point on, Yadu's career took a dramatic upwards swing: he went from the Amritsar team to the Ludhiana Academy and then to the Punjab U17 team, all within a matter of one and a half years. By late 2003, he had his first senior national experience in Cuttack, had played U20 international for India in Kuwait, and participated in the Champions Cup in Malaysia.

The basketball world in India can be thankful that he abandoned his Discus throwing days behind to start throwing the basketball, but it's evident from some of his full-court bullet heaves that the throwing arm still has a lot of juice left in it. "When I look back now, even when I was younger, I used to watch a lot of basketball on TV," he said, "My Dad encouraged me to stay with athletics and discus, but once I crossed over to basketball, it completely consumed me and I didn't have the time to practice any other sport anymore."

Yadu added: "I started to enjoy basketball game a lot. It was a team sport where there was so much interaction with other people. And everything kept coming naturally to me - I kept on getting what I wanted. It was a great feeling to first play for Punjab, and then it became even more amazing to wear an ‘India' jersey for the first time!"

Yadu credits his early coaches for making him work extremely hard, whether it was his Amritsar coach Fateh Chand or Ludhiana's famed basketball trainer, Dr. Subramanyam. "I wanted to learn everything about basketball," and adding a smile, he added, "I stopped paying attention to everything else - including my studies!"

Constantly upbeat, energetic, and light-hearted, Yadu becomes the heart of the any team he joins. His Railways and India teammate Arjun Singh says, "He has incredible energy - and the best thing about his game is that he doesn't back down to anyone, no matter who the opponent is."

Yadu and the rest of the Indian squad faced the toughest of opponents at the Asian Games in November, and although they returned with an unflattering 1-5 record, Yadu took home a lot of positives: in the coaching and in India's potential in Asia. "We had a really good coach in Bill Harris for this tournament," he says, "With a coach like that, if we keep working hard, we can become top four in Asia."

"The future is good," Yadu says, "My dream is to take India to a medal one of the big championships - the Asian Games or the Asian Basketball Championships." The 26th edition of the FIBA Asia Basketball Championship, or the ‘ABC', are set to be held in Wuhan (China) in September this year.

Yadu's optimism off the court, on the future of the game, is as contagious as his optimism on it, where he focuses hard on each defensive assignment, each offensive rebound, and each jump-shot. And if this contagious optimism continues to grow in the hearts of Indian basketball player, we may very well see the day when the Young Cagers make a name for themselves in Asian basketball's biggest stages.

February 13, 2011

With experience on their side, ONGC aim to win their third straight Federation Cup

One look at the team list for ONGC, and it’s immediately clear that there is something special about this team. Of all the team’s playing at the Federation Cup in Raipur, ONGC might not feature most of the current crop of India’s internationals (that honour goes to Western Railway), or feature some of the game’s exciting youngsters who play for teams like Billai Steel Plant, but they’re a squad blessed with some of the most experienced players in India.

“Our experience is obviously our strongest point,” says ONGC coach Rajendra Singh Rathore, who has been a former Junior and Senior India player himself, “We have a mix of former and current stars who are starring in this championship.”

ONGC feature the likes of Trideep Rai, who was part of India’s recent squad that travelled to Guangzhou (China) for the Asian Games. But along with him are a host of other legends, such as the superstar Riyazuddin, who is attempting a comeback from a serious injury, Mohit Bhandari, Murali Krishna, Anoop, and Sridhar S.

Each of their various weapons bring different things to the game, resulting in a well-assembled fit. The wily point-guard Bhandari orchestrates ONGC’s offense, slashing through defenders to shoot, lay-up, or create great shooting opportunities for his teammates. Riyaz, who is one of the best in the country at creating his own shot, succeeds best when the team begins to play a fast-paced game. Their dominating big men, Murali, Anoop, and Nishant Kumar make it difficult for opponents to out-rebound them. And ONGC turn most to Trideep, their best pure scorer, to make the big shots when most needed.

Still, having perhaps the oldest squad in the tournament doesn’t come without its speed-bumps. Several of the players in ONGC are playing the tournament with niggling injuries. But no obstacle, whether internal or from a foe, has been able to defeat the team’s spirit. Even in the toughest of games, ONGC look calm and assured of themselves, ready to strike when the moment calls for.

Unlike the usual run-and-gun offense applied by most of their opponents, ONGC play a slightly slower inside-outside game, relying on half-court set-ups and their beefy big men to help them control the paint.

Coming into this year’s tournament in Raipur, ONGC are the two-time holding champions of the Federation Cup, after their triumphs at Alwar (Rajasthan) and Rourkella (Orissa) in the previous years. “We have done well in this tournament in the past, and we will do our best to retain it,” said team captain Amit Kumar Singh.

So far, it has been smooth sailing in the Semi-Finals for the squad: ONGC have won all three of their group games, defeating IOB (Chennai) and Billai Steel Plant in close contests, and then blowing past Vijaya Bank for an easy victory on Sunday morning.

Coach Rathore believes that it will be their ability to perform well in the close competitions that will give them a slight edge going further in the tournament. “Our experience will count the most in neck-to-neck games,” he said, “This is when we feel we can perform better.”

Featuring the best amongst the best in the country, there are no easy games in the Federation Cup: but with a squad which has been through so many battles and with so many years of experience under their belt, ONGC are looking hungry to make it a three-peat.

'Trey Allen': Jesus Shuttlesworth makes it 2,561

Life imitates art, and art imitates real life, and round and round we go. A few days ago, a 35-year-old Ray Allen shot two three-pointers - numbers 2,560 and 2,561 - to clinch the record for most 'treys' made in NBA history, going ahead of another legendary shooter, Reggie Miller. And if life and art are indeed so well intertwined, then Ray's success story has been like a movie.

Matter of fact, they did kind of make a movie. Not about him, but starring him. Ray Allen was Jesus Shuttlesworth in 'He Got Game', perhaps the greatest basketball movie ever made (Thanks a lot, Spike Lee). In it, Ray, aka, Jesus (named so after Knick legend Earl 'The Pearl' Monroe, not the Messiah) is a very talented high-school player whose only obstacles are off the court, in terms of a conflicted relationship with his father (Denzel Washington) and a bunch of greedy hands trying to get a share of his success.

The real Ray Allen probably didn't go through such dramatic issues, but his life on the basketball court should be more a documentary and an instructional tape for aspiring basketball players than a Hollywood thriller. Year after year after year, from Milwaukee to Seattle to Boston, Ray Allen kept shooting, kept scoring, and somewhere, between the ages of 21, when he was picked 5th overall in the 1996 draft to 35, when he is having the most efficient season of his career, he figured out the art of consistency.

About two weeks before Ray's historic night in Boston, ESPN's Bill Simmons wrote a well-researched piece about how some of the game's veterans today had found a way to defy the age curve and keep getting better, and he cited the examples of players such as Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, Steve Nash, and of course, Ray Ray. After Allen's record breaking night, Celtics coach Doc Rivers hit the nail on the head when he said: "If you’re a young player just look at Ray Allen if you want a long career."

At 35, Allen continues to be the league's model pro. After 12 years of success, Allen finally got his chance at the league's ultimate prize when the Celtics won the NBA trophy in 2008. And then he kept getting better. The Celtics are now amongst the best teams in the league again, and Allen has been their most consistent performer.

Here is the record-breaking three:

Now that he's on top of that three-pointers list with his 2,561st, you can be sure that he'll stay there for quite some time. From the active players in the league, the next highest is Jason Kidd is 1,756 (who won't be catching up because he's damn old and he can't shoot). Peja Stojakovic has 1,723 (too old/washed up to catch up). Chauncey Billups has 1,690, and then you have Rashard Lewis and Jason Terry. Simply put, the record is safe with Ray for quite some time now.

Now, if you haven't really seen him play, it might be easy to pigeonhole Allen as a one-dimensional player: someone who shoots the three really well and that's that. But watching Ray Allen is a whole different story: from coming off screens perfectly, attacking the basket, running the floor, and of course, being a feared pest on defense, Allen has a variety of skills in his arsenal to offset opponents. There are few players you would choose over Ray Allen to take that game-winning shot. It's no surprise that he was once again named in this year's All Star Team.

He is also, along with the likes of Kobe Bryant and Gilbert Arenas, known as one of the hardest workers in the NBA. Dig a little deeper into Mr. Shuttlesworth's story and you'll find inspirational stories and hours of practice that he's put in into perfecting that jump shot.

But it still comes back to the shooting. Allen has perhaps the prettiest looking jump shot I have ever seen EVER (I'll give Steve Nash second place here). He is already in the pantheon amongst some of the greatest shooters to ever play the game of basketball, but is he best pure shooter ever? Is he better than Reggie Miller, Larry Bird, Jerry West, Chris Mullin, or Steve Nash?

That is a question I will leave for you to answer. For now, I will go back to 'He Got Game' to share my favourite Ray Allen story. If you've seen the movie, you'll remember that in the climatic scene, Allen and Denzel Washington face each other for a one-on-one game to decide the film's resolution. The director decided that instead of scripting the match-up, he will just led the two play naturally and film the scene as it is. The only thing for certain was that Allen was supposed to win: how he would win was left to the actor/player.

So what happened next? Washington surprised the young Allen, scoring four early points on him. Facing potential embarrassment in losing to an actor, Ray angrily stepped his game up, killing Washington from all ends of the floor. Within minutes the game was done, and the real life/reel life confusion created for one hell of a dramatic scene.

Art can imitate life all it wants, but as long as Trey Allen is in control, you know he'll continue to script the rest of his own Hollywood story.

February 12, 2011

Hoops DNA: Shireen Limaye follows her mother's footsteps to basketball stardom

Nature or Nurture? It has been an age-old argument: are an individual’s personality and skills developed by their DNA, or are they developed by the way in which the individual is raised? Or to put it simply: Are we born the way we are, or do we become who we are because of the environment around us?

It’s a complicated debate with possibly no absolute answer: every individual seems to be influenced by a little bit of both.

Shireen Limaye, Maharashtra’s budding hoops star, is probably not going to be any help in solving the debate either. See, Shireen is lucky to have the best of both worlds: She’s got hoops in her DNA, as her mother, Suvarna Limaye, is a former player National level basketball player. But Shireen has also been nurtured to become the best player she can be, playing basketball under her mother’s coaching from when she was just five years old.

The fruits of her nature and nurture are now developing into an exciting final product. If you read this before Sunday, Shireen would still be 15-years-old. She turns 16 on February 13th, and at her young age, she has already charted great peaks. She is currently part of Maharashtra’s Federation Cup squad, as she is one of the youngest, if not the youngest participants at this ongoing championship in Raipur (Chhattisgar). She got her first senior call-up for Maharashtra at the Sr. Nationals in Delhi last month, and a confident showing proved that she could hang tough even with women twice her age.

“Of course, the first time I took the court as a Senior player, I felt a lot of pressure going against the best,” Shireen admits, “But at the same time I felt very proud to be there.”

Shireen’s mother, Suvarna, says that Shireen has grown up around the game. Suvarna, who is a coach in Pune, says that she used to carry Shireen on the court since she was just six months old! Shireen began training under her mother, and by age nine, she became the youngest to represent the Pune district in the U13 tournament.

“In a way, it was really easy to work with Shireen,” says Suvarna, her mother and her coach, “She has basketball in her genes! But also because she is incredibly passionate about learning the game.”

Shireen has much more than her mother’s basketball skills in her genes: her father, Vijay Limaye, has been a National-Level swimmer; her elder brother, Animish Limaye, has represented India’s U17 basketball side.

With this sporting background, Shireen had no trouble thriving in an environment where she was encouraged to play the sport she loved. Her high-point came when she represented the Indian Youth Team at the Youth Asian Basketball Championships, which were held in Pune in August 2009.

But she had a curious change of course since: Shireen got an interesting offer to change sports for a little while and represent India in the Netball tournament held at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. She practiced for a year with the new Netball team, before getting a chance to represent the country in Delhi, but this time, in a different sport.

“It was strange for me to switch to Netball at first, and the first two weeks it took some time to adjust but after that I got a grip of it,” said Shireen, “When we finally got to Delhi, it was great! We had a cheering Indian crowd behind us to make a good atmosphere.”

It took another brave, sudden transition in sports for Shireen again: The Commonwealth Games, where she represented India in Netball, lasted from October 3-14, 2010. 10 days later, Shireen joined the Maharashtra Junior Basketball Team that played at the Junior National Championships in Vashi. Along with other young stars in the team, Shireen helped Maharashtra ride the home support to reach the final of the tournament before they lost to Kerala.

“The transition between sports, I admit, was pathetic!” Shireen exclaimed, “But I had to manage.”

She also vehemently denies any further calling towards Netball. “I will always pick basketball! I don’t think Netball will have a future for me!”

As long as she can keep honing her skills, Shireen is sure to have an improving future in the game. She plays a versatile game, switching between guard and forward positions with ease. At 5”10, she is taller than most girls she competes with at her position, and with good ball-handling skills, she is looking to perfect her point-guard game which will allow her to overpower smaller opponents. She has also learnt from watching her mother play: “My mother had really good pivot moves in the post, something that she worked on with me and I have been able to pick up.”

With a lot of potential waiting ahead, Shireen is ambitious about her future.“After I finish my 10th Boards, I want to go to America to study,” she says, “In five years, I wish to see myself in the WNBA.”

Blessed with the perfect blend of nature and nurture, Shireen has little reason to doubt her dreams!

February 11, 2011

With Chhattisgarh's first indoor stadium, Raipur bids to enter the Basketball world

There is one side of India that the world knows well and recognizes. This is the side that features the wide roads and super-fast Metro trains in New Delhi, or the Bollywood stories and the glamour from Mumbai, or the burgeoning IT/BPO spheres in cities like Hyderabad and Bangalore.

But then there is another India, which houses the large majority of the Indian people, and which has overseen a quiet but incredible economical surge. This is Middle India: the bread-basket from where we get our people, our rice, and one of our most valuable produces, Iron.

And a little left to the middle of Middle India is the state of Chhattisgarh. Formed from separation off of Madhya Pradesh 11 years ago, the state of Chhattisgarh has had an accelerated rise in its economical profile. Once the country’s major agricultural processing centre, Chhattisgarh’s capital city of Raipur has now evolved into a commercial hub for coal, power, steel, and aluminum industries. There are hundreds and hundreds of steel rolling mills and iron and steel plants around this growing city.

As a state, Chhattisgarh has also made its mark felt in the sports sector, and especially in the world of Indian basketball. For the past decade since the new state’s Chhattisgarh Pradesh Basketball Association (CGPBA) became affiliated to the Basketball Federation of India (BFI), the state has been basketball’s best kept secret.

The state team is collected, trained, formed, and housed in and around the city of Bhilai: the Bhilai Steel Plant has had a major influence in shaping the face of basketball in the state. But in the state’s capital city of Raipur, though, the step towards basketball seemed a long way away.

But it seems that things have turned a corner for this city: A little more than a week ago, on the 3rd of February, Chhattisgarh’s first indoor stadium, built by the city’s municipal corporation, was inaugurated in Raipur. Within a week, the brand new Budhatalab Indoor Stadium in Raipur was ready to be tested. For the first time, the city of Raipur is playing host to a national level basketball championship, as the 25th IMG-Reliance Federation Cup National Basketball Championship tipped off at the stadium on Feb 10th. For six days, the best teams and players in the country will be competing for this prestigious championship, and they will be competing in Raipur.

“It feels great to finally have a top quality indoor stadium in the state,” said Rajesh Patel, the honorary secretary of the CGPBA and one of the most dedicated coaches and talent scouts in the country, “Chhattisgarh has performed well over the years just by practicing on the outdoor courts. Now with better infrastructure, we hope that it will translate to more success for our teams.”

The new stadium had an inauspicious start: According to Patel planning and work began 15 years ago, but was stalled in the middle due to several complications. A year ago, it was picked up by the city again, and was finally completed in time for this tournament.

Apart from basketball, the stadium also has facilities for other indoor sports like Handball, Volleyball, Table Tennis, and Badminton. It can fit a maximum audience capacity of 5,000.

Earlier, Bhilai had played host to three major basketball nationals, but none of them were Senior events: the Junior championship in 2001, Sub-Junior championship in 2005, and Youth championship in 2008. Patel added that, now equipped with this indoor stadium, the next step would be to bring the Senior National Championship to Chhattisgarh and to Raipur.

“We would also like to hold Indian national team camps here in the future,” Patel added.

And another thing that Patel and the rest of the Chhattisgarh will be hoping is that through these efforts, the city of Raipur, which has so far been a relative stranger to basketball, begins to morph into a city with a healthy basketball culture. “This city still doesn’t have an official basketball coach for this court who will help guide young players,” Patel said, “Of course, there are good basketball players from here who have developed their game in Bhilai and even made it to the national level, but now we need more players to develop from Raipur itself. The talent is here, and so is the infrastructure, all that is needed now is the right kind of guidance.”

After the Federation Cup’s inauguration ceremony on Thursday night, the Chhattisgarh Girls’ team put on a resounding show of confidence in front of the state’s Chief Minister Dr. Raman Singh on their first official game on this new court. Chhattisgarh defeated Tamil Nadu by an easy 30 points, after which the team’s captain Anju Lakra seemed more than happy with the new setting for basketball.

“Early on, we thought that this court was going to be different,” Anju admitted, “But as we got into the flow of the game, we started to enjoy playing there. And since we won the game, the court also won our hearts!”

It might just be the first of many crucial steps, but Chhattisgarh’s basketball fraternity will be hoping that the game can win over the hearts of the city, so that one day the city known for its coal, iron and agriculture will be known for its bouncing rubber balls, too!

February 10, 2011

Chhattisgarh welcomes India's best teams to the Federation Cup

On the opening ceremony of the 25th IMG-Reliance Federation Cup National Basketball Championship for Men and Women at the Budhatalab Indoor Stadium in Raipur, Chhattisgarh on February 10th, chief guest and Chhattigarh’s Chief Minister Dr. Raman Singh said that he hoped to see Chhattisgarh become India’s top sporting state. And with an energetic first win against Tamil Nadu, the Chhattisgarh’s Women’s team stamped a perfect response to Singh’s wishes.

The Chhattisgarh home crowd roared with joy from the very first basket, and the signature quickfire play of the girls on the court was no match for Tamil Nadu. Chhattisgarh built a 28-6 lead in the first quarter, and continued to play strong defense to deny TN any chance of bringing the game any closer.

Chhattisgarh continued to play a balanced inside-outside game, as they excelled both in fast break scoring, sharp inside passes, and with accurate outside shooting, as several different players contributed to their score. They led 45-20 at halftime en-route to a resounding 82-52 victory. Chhattigarh’s star M. Pushpa finished with a game-high 30 points on some sharp-shooting from beyond the three-point arc. V. Amutha scored 16 in a losing effort for TN.

The Federation Cup, which features the best eight teams in the men’s and women’s divisions from the previous year’s National Basketball Championship in Ludhiana, was inaugurated at the brand new Budhatalab Stadium in Raipur earlier in the evening by Dr. Raman Singh. “We’re lucky to witness the first ever games of this tournament at this new stadium,” Singh said, “We will hope to see a great environment for basketball here!”

“The Chhattisgarh government will try to do everything possible to help develop sports in this state,” Singh added, “In 11 years since its inception, Chhattisgarh has become top in the country in several sectors; I hope that in the future we can be in number one in sports, too.”

Harish Sharma, the Secretary-General of the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) also acknowledged the growing status of Chhattisgarh as a basketball superpower. “The Chhattisgarh Pradesh Basketball Association (CGPBA) has become a strong association over the years,” said Sharma, “Their players are now making the state proud in almost all levels of the game.”

Sharma added: “It is great to see this wonderful indoor stadium to host this championship. The public of Chhattisgarh should acknowledge all that its chief minister Dr. Raman Singh has done to help encourage sports in the state.”

In other Women’s action, the team from Delhi, who have finished runners-up in the last two National Championships, faced a plucky Maharashtra side on the first day of the Cup. Delhi took a confident first half lead of 33-24 behind some brilliant play by Indian National Team captain Prashanti Singh (24) and Raspreet Sidhu (23). But Maharashtra made an inspired run in the third quarter to even the score and then take the lead 42-40.

Shaken but not shattered, Delhi regained its composure and began to execute better offensively again. They went on a devastating 27-6 run between the end of the third and halfway through the fourth quarters. In the end, it was a comfortable 16 point victory for Delhi, 74-58.

Here is the full list of participating teams and their groups:


Group A: Western Railway, Indian Army, Hyderabad District, KSEB.
Group B: IOB (Chennai), ONGC, Bhilai Steel Plant, Vijaya Bank (Bangalore).


Group A: Southern Railway, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh.
Group B: Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra.

To stay updated with everything at the Federation Cup, Click Here for Full Schedule and Click Here for Results.

February 8, 2011

Basketball’s Federation Cup to tip off in Raipur (Chhattisgarh) from Feb 10th

In a competition where the finest basketball teams in the country are set to be pitted against each other, the 25th IMG-Reliance Federation Cup Basketball Championship for Men and Women will be held Raipur (Chhattisgarh) from 10th-15th February, 2011. The championship will be conducted by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) in association with the Chhattisgarh Pradesh Basketball Association.

The Federation Cup is a tournament that features the top eight teams in both the men’s and women’s divisions from the previous year’s Sr. National Basketball Championship. Thus, the top ranked teams from the 60th National Basketball Championship (in Ludhiana) will take part in the Federation Cup this year.

The participating squads are:


1. Indian Railways
2. Tamil Nadu
3. Uttarakhand
4. Services
5. Andhra Pradesh
6. Chhattisgarh
7. Karnataka
8. Kerala


1. Indian Railways
2. Delhi
3. Chhattisgarh
4. Karnataka
5. Kerala
6. Tamil Nadu
7. Maharashtra
8. Andhra Pradesh

The host team qualifies automatically – this year, hosts Chhattisgarh already fell in the top-eight of both divisions. The Men and Women’s teams from Punjab will not be participating, and have been replaced by Kerala (Men) and Andhra Pradesh (Women).

The 24th edition of the Federation Cup was held at Alwar (Rajasthan) from October 22nd-26th, 2009. ONGC (Uttrakhand) were champion amongst the Men while SEC (Indian Railways) won the Women’s division.

February 7, 2011

SDAT Clinic in Chennai with JD Walsh

A lot has changed in basketball in India over the last three years, from the new massive IMG-Reliance sponsorship deal to the NBA expanding its operations in the country. But throughout the highs and lows of the development of the game in India over this period, the one constant has been the persistent efforts of American basketball coach JD Walsh in bringing India to the world of basketball... And bringing the world of basketball closer to India!

Over the past week, Walsh completed another crucial four-day clinic in Chennai at the SDAT Stadium from February 2-5. Walsh worked with about 75 youngsters in three different groups: U18 Girls, Boys from all over the state of Tamil Nadu, and a local boys' college team.

"I have been coming to Chennai a couple of times every year for a long time now," said Walsh, "I think the city has a very organised sports culture, especially ingrained in basketball. They have done well in organising events for the whole state of Tamil Nadu. There is a sense of professionalism there, and I'm sure Tamil Nadu's efforts in improving its basketball will continue to show results on the national level."

One of the highlights of the camp was the work that Walsh did with many Tamil Nadu coaches on concepts such as offensive and defensive strategies and helping developing players with their post game.

Walsh contacted Don Casey, former New Jersey Nets, Los Angeles Clippers, and Temple (college) basketball coach from the USA over Skype. Casey spoke to the coaches about zone defense and answered their questions. Walsh said: "The Tamil Nadu coaches are very knowledgeable. They were excited about this opportunity and receptive to Casey."

"These are small things necessary to make a difference for basketball in India," Walsh added, "I think we are finally beginning to turn a corner and change is coming to the game here."

Nike Basketball sponsored Walsh's clinic with gear for the coaches.

JD Walsh is the founder of the JDBasketball School, a global enterprise with a mission to each the fundamentals of basketball to youngsters around the world.

February 6, 2011

Where did all the Cavs fans go?

Which was one of the most popular teams in the league for the past half a decade? Which team had the best regular season record - by a good margin - for the last two seasons? Which team had fans all across the world wearing their jerseys, watching their games televised week after week live? The team that was considered to be title contenders? Which team was the first to 40 wins last season?

You might know the answer to that. But how about this, here are some more clues: Which team, after losing a couple of players in the offseason, became the first to lose 40 games this season? Which team holds the worst record in the league so far this season, the only one to not reach to double digit victories? It's the same team that is probably the most ignored and unfancied side this year. It's the team, that almost overnight (following a certain 'Decision' on July 8, 2010), lost all of its fanbase.

I'm speaking, of course, of the Cleveland Cavaliers. After a loss to Portland last night, the Cavs have now entered the annals of NBA history, but not in the way they would have liked. The Cavs have now lost 24 straight games, the highest losing streak ever. They are yet to win in 2011, have lost 34 of their last 35 games, and after an average start to the season, now sit at a disgusting 8-43 record.

NBA fans know the back story well by now. Cleveland's own son and number one pick, the darling of the basketball world, and the two-time MVP, LeBron James transformed the Cavs into a force to be reckoned with for the better part of the last decade. And then, with one swift move in the offseason, they were left headless without their best player. James joined the Heat, and less significantly, he was followed there by the Cavs' highest-tenured player, Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Shaquille O'Neal and Delonte West left for greener pastures, literally, to the Celtics.

Everyone expected the Cavs to fall, but did we really think that the fall would've been this hard? Did anyone really think that they would become this bad, this soon? From winning 66 and 61 games the last two seasons, here is a team that is finding it difficult to win 10 games this time around. Is this how bad LeBron's supporting cast was? LeBron was surrounded by the likes of Shaq, Ilgauskas, Mo Williams, Antawn Jamison, Anderson Varejao, Leon Powe, JJ Hickson, Daniel Gibson, Jamario Moon, Anthony Parker, and Jawad Williams last season. All of those players, barring Shaq and Ilgauskas, are still there.

Apart from contending LeBron's, Shaq's, and Big Z's loss, the Cavs lost Varejao to a season-long injury, and Mo Williams has been out injured, too. There squad is now full of nobodies like Christian Eyenga, Manny Harris, and Alonzo Gee.

And still, we never expected them to be this bad.

But honestly, I don't really care about their struggles, personally. I never like the Cavalier franchise, before LeBron joined them, didn't like them during LeBron's tenure, and sure as hell don't care about them too much since he has left.

What infuriates me, however, that LeBron's move away from the Cavs has exposed my least-favourite facet of NBA fans: bandwagonning. How could a team that was loved so ubiquitously be ignored so much simply because a couple of players left? Because basketball has become that kind of a game. Fans focus on stars and not on teams. A year ago, I couldn't walk into a single major adidas store in India without spotting Cavs merchandise next to the usual Celtics/Lakers garb. Now? It's as if the Cavs never existed.

Former Cavs fans: I'm calling out to you specifically. Where are you now? How could you follow a team night in and night out for so many years and them completely forget about them overnight, conveniently taking your support to the South Beach like LeBron to support the Heat? I know the answer to these questions, but it still saddens me.

Looking at NBA fans in India now, a majority support either Celtics or the Lakers. But my question is, would you have cared about, say, the 96-97 Celtics that featured a starting lineup of Brett Szabo, Rick Fox, David Wesley, Antoine Walker, and Eric Williams? What about the 93-94 Lakers, with the excellent starting five of Nick Van Exel, Tony Smith, Vlade Divac, Elden Campbell, and George Lynch? I'm expecting only a few to answer an honest 'yes', and it's understandable. People don't like shit teams. Nobody notices you until you perform well. Or you dunk all over the universe like Blake Griffin.

And this is what separates NBA fans from say, football fans. From my experience, football fans who begin to seriously follow a team then follow them all the way, through thick and thin. Liverpool fans will still be Liverpool fans, whether they finish 2nd in the Premiership like two years ago or near the relegation zone, like they have threatened to this year.

There is a certain joy in standing up for your squad even though they might be going through a shit-storm. I've been a tragic New York Knicks fan ever since the Allan Houstan-Latrell Sprewell-Marcus Camby inspired squad hustled hard as the underdog and made it all the way to the Final in 1999. It has basically been downhill from there, and although the Knicks haven't been the league's worst team all those years, they have certainly been the league's biggest laughing stock. It was difficult to wake up every day and see an 'L' next to a Knick box score. And yes, they have improved this season a little, but there is still a long way to go before they achieve elite status.

I wish the Cavs' fans had stuck with them, too. 24 straight losses aren't easy to take. What's worse is the 24,000 fans who they've lost, too. Or perhaps, they shouldn't have gained these many fans because of one man in the first place, right?

Anyways, here's a heads-up to those looking to jump a bandwagon. The Knicks are close to trading for Carmelo Anthony, and thus making them more exciting/likeable. Become a fan now before everyone else finds out.

February 4, 2011

Chhattisgarh star Anju Lakra set to defend her home ground in the Federation Cup

With the Indian basketball fraternity focusing more and more towards the youth and the future of the game, 27-year-old Anju Lakra became an outcast to the system. After being part of several senior teams, including the FIBA Asia Basketball Championships (ABC) for Women in Chennai in 2009, Anju was snubbed from the side when selections were made for India’s first ever appearance in the Asian Games in Guangzhou after a 28-year-gap.

But with age comes maturity: Anju, who has been playing the game for 15 years now, has taken the snub as a motivation to make it to the biggest stage again. “Maybe this time I wasn’t good enough for the team, but the Asian Games will take place again in four years, and now, I will be aiming for them,” she said. With the next edition of the ABC to take place in August this year, Anju also wishes to get a call-up to the camp for the squad that will head to Japan.

Back in domestic action though, Anju continued her Midas touch with the game this year: she was part of the Indian Railways side that again won the National Championship in Delhi last month, and towards the end of January, she carried her home state Chhattisgarh to the final of the Savio Cup in Mumbai, only to lose in the final to Southern Railway. For her extraordinary efforts in the tournament, Anju was named the Savio Cup’s Best Women Player.

Anju had a curious start to basketball – back at age 11, the tomboy approached her PT teacher at her school in Billai, hoping to get a chance to learn Hockey. The PT teacher recommended Anju towards Handball instead. It was her another year of learning Handball in her school until one day, Chhattisgarh Basketball’s Secretary Rajesh Patel spotted her playing. “You should try basketball,” he suggested.

And Anju was hooked.

Patel has a formidable reputation for building basketball in Chhattisgarh - Around 120 players have received training from him and received government jobs under sports quota. He has been the coach of the Indian Junior and Youth women basketball teams and 25 players trained by him have represented the Indian national team.

Luckily for Anju, she wisely took up his suggestion and shifted sports. Back then, before the formation of Chhattisgarh as a separate state, Anju played at the Sub-Junior and Youth level for the Madhya Pradesh side. When asked if it was strange to separate into a new state in 2000, Anju replied that on the contrary, it was a positive thing. “We had so many good players from the Chhattisgarh area who couldn’t make it to the talented MP side back then,” she said, “When Chhattisgarh was formed, I was happy that so many other players who were playing with me in Billai got a chance to represent the state.”

And in less than a year, Anju was back playing National Basketball – this time for Chhattisgarh, and in the Women’s Festival in Haldia, West Bengal. It didn’t take long for her to face her former teammates and her former state when Chhattisgarh faced MP in the third place playoff of the tournament. Anju and Chhattisgarh prevailed. “It was very exciting to play them and beat them for the first time!” she said.

Since her youth, Anju has been a mark of consistency, and a model for many young girls out of Chhattisgarh hoping to choose basketball as a way forward. She played her first game for India in the Junior ABC in New Delhi in 2000. Her first Senior call-up came a year later for the ABC in Bangkok. She played in more major tournaments, including the Senior ABC in 2005 and the ABC back home in Chennai, 2009.

Her versatile skills and ability to lead on court has made her a valuable asset to whoever she has represented – be it Indian Railways or Chhattisgarh. Anju is a 5 foot 4 forward, equally adept at playing as a playmaker and a scorer, although the strongest part of her game is definitely her accuracy from the long range.

Chhattisgarh lost to Southern Railway in the final of the Savio Cup, where Anju had to face several of her Indian Railways opponents like legendary Center Geethu Anna Jose and Anitha Pau Durai. “We have been going to the Savio Cup a lot and performing well – but to beat Southern Railway, we have to find a way of stopping Geethu,” Anju admits, “We can match up to them in other ways but still don’t have that size. It will take a couple more years before we can develop some talented tall girls to represent Chhattisgarh.”

“For now, our tactic is to try and outrun our opponent to score,” she said, “I have been playing well offensively, but whenever you focus too much on offense, your defense suffers. This is an area of my game which I feel needs the most improvement.”

Next up on Anju’s plate will be protecting her home turf, as the 25th Federation Cup, featuring the best eight teams from last year’s National Championship, is set to take place in Chhattisgarh from 10-15th of February. It will be a chance for Chhattisgarh and Anju to get immediate retribution from their rivals. “We will be playing on our home court,” Anju said, “So we will be extra motivated to play harder. Our main rivals are Indian Railways and Delhi, and these are the two teams that we have to keep our eye on.”

Even after 15 years in the game, Anju still remains hungry for more success in basketball and continues to dominate, especially since her performances at the Savio Cup. She credits everything to the game for helping her become who she is. “It is basketball that has brought me here,” she says, “In basketball, I have found a place where I can clear my mind. As I’ve grown with the game, I have become more independent and confident.”

“Every time I’m on a basketball court I have felt a great, family atmosphere,” she added, “All the coaches I have worked with have been supportive and helped me improve. That is why this game is so important.”

With no shortage of confidence and motivate, Anju will definitely be one to watch once the Federation Cup tips off in Raipur next week!

February 3, 2011

Toronto Raptors have a Sikh 'Super Fan'

Hell bent to change the stereotypes of Indian abroad, successful Sikh automobile entrepreneur Nav Bhatia has used an interesting method of getting his fellow Indian some exposure: his favourite NBA team, the Toronto Raptors.

From SiliconIndia.com

"I am the only Super Fan anointed by the NBA. Each season, I spend $300,000 to buy 3,000 seats out of the total 20,000 for games held in Toronto and distribute them free to Indian kids to watch these games from front rows. The images of our kids in turbans and Indian dress beamed into millions of homes make white people aware of our identity," he says.

This was an awesome article! Bhatia is one of the biggest Hyundai car dealers in Canada. The Indian-origin businessman is also a huge Raptors fan and can be seen at many Toronto Raptors basketball games. Apart from having famous friends in the NBA and in the business world, Bhatia even has a fan club on Facebook. The SiliconIndia article quoted above goes on to mention a lot more about the man, who was once mistaken to be a cab driver because of his Indian identity, and has used that humiliating experience as a motivation to change the identity of his fellow Indians.

The 58-year-old Sikh is also the most famous Indian face on the North America NBA circuit with his official anointing as the 'Super Fan' of the city-based NBA team called Toronto Raptors for creating a record of watching over 500 games.

"Most NBA players and referees know me personally because of my turban. That's how I used the NBA to promote awareness about our identity.

The top auto man is also credited with bringing Bollywood to Canada, with the screening the film "Hum Saath Saath Hain" here in 1999.
"It became the first Bollywood film to run at six mainstream theatres in the Toronto area. Till then no Cineplex would touch an Indian film, but I changed that," says Bhatia who has brought dozens of Indian films here since then.
Over the years, he has also staged live shows of the likes of Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, A.R. Rahman and other stars at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
"Through Bollywood films and live shows, I have succeeded in telling Canadians that we Indians have a robust culture of entrainment and solid identity. My Indian identity is very important to me."

Awesome. NBA Basketball, Bollywood, Successful Sikhs... Talk about a great start to my day...

The Raptors happen to have another Indian super-fan: she may not be as high-profile as Bhatia, but Payal Doshi, the face behind the Inside the Purple Room videos, has been celebrating and suffering (mostly suffering) with her home team for many years, too. Read about her visit to Ludhiana Mahindra NBA Challenge here.

February 2, 2011

FIBA Asia releases 2011 Events Calendar

Press Release: The complete FIBA Asia calendar of events for 2011 has been announced.

The calendar will tip off with the 22nd FIBA Asia Champions Cup, FIBA Asia’s premier event for club teams, to be hosted by Philippines at Manila from May 28 – June 5, 2011.

Philippines will host a FIBA Asia event after a gap of six years. The last FIBA Asia event hosted by Philippines was incidentally also the Champions Cup – the 16th edition of the event – in 2005.

Wuhan in China and Omura-Nagasaki in Japan have already been chosen to host the two marquee events of the calendar – the 26th FIBA Asia Championship (Sept 15-25, 2011) and the 24th FIBA Asia Championship for Women (Aug 21-28, 2011).

Ho Chi Minh City, the capital of South East Asian nation Vietnam will host the 2nd FIBA Asia U16 Championship at a date to be decided. The event will mark the first time Vietnam will host a FIBA Asia event.

Urumqi in China has been chosen as the host for the 2nd FIBA Asia U16 Championship for Women, at a date to be decided. Among other important events, Urumqi had hosted the 2006 FIBA Asia U18 Championship.

The two FIBA Asia U16 events are qualifying events for the corresponding FIBA World U17 events to be held in 2012.

Lauding the host of each events, FIBA Asia president Sheikh Saud Ali Al-Thani said: “Hosting an event is charming, but the challenges that come up can be understood only by the hosts. I congratulate each of the host and the National Federations for coming forward to host the events.”

“From FIBA Asia side I assure all support. I hereby call upon all the prospective participants for each event to provide all the necessary support so that each event runs smoothly,” Sheikh Saud added.

“I also welcome Vietnam who are joining our list of hosts,” Sheikh Saud said.

“Last year we had Yemen joining the list of hosts. This year it is Vietnam,” said FIBA Asia Secretary General Dato’ Yeoh Choo Hock.

“The quality of FIBA Asia events has seen a tremendous improvement in the last couple of years. I am confident we can not only continue but also improve our standards this year,” Dato Yeoh added.

“Organizing an event in new cities is always exciting. It provides a wonderful opportunity to widen the support base for our sport,” said FIBA Asia Deputy Secretary General Hagop Khajirian, also the Chairman of the FIBA Asia Committee for Marketing and Media.

“The fact that new cities are coming forward to host events is very encouraging. It means our sport is gaining in support from more people. I congratulate and look forward to working with all the host cities and National Federations,” Khajirian added.

The complete FIBA Asia 2011 calendar:

May 28 - June 5: 22nd FIBA Asia Champions Cup (Manila, Phillipines).
Aug 21 - 28: 24th FIBA Asia Championship for Women (Omura-Nagasaki, Japan).
Sep 15 - 25: 26th FIBA Asia Championship (Wuhan, China).
Dates TBC: 2nd FIBA Asia Championship (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam).
Dates TBC: 2nd FIBA Asia U16 Championship for Women (Urumqi, China).