August 29, 2011

China wins FIBA Women's ABC; India finish 6th

China continued their dominance over Asian basketball, especially in the Women's division, by bagging the biggest title in the region once more. China's stars Nan Chen and Miao Lijie came up big in the crucial moments of the game and took their side to a 65-62 win over Korea and clinch the gold medal in the 24th FIBA Asia Basketball Championship for Women in Omura, Japan, on Sunday.

This was China's 11th victory in this competition, which has been held 24 times. Their opponents in the final, Korea, have won the gold 12 times. China have now won the FIBA Asia Women's Championship five out of the past six times. The two finalists, with 23 of the 24 golds in the tournament's history shared between them, are certainly familiar with each other, as this was their fourth consecutive meeting in the final of this competition.

The final was a close, up-and-down game, in which neither team refused to give the other much breathing space. After trailing by 2 points at the end of the third quarter, China pulled away in the fourth, hitting some crucial baskets, for the emotional three point win. Miao Lijie, who was named MVP of the tournament, paced China with 20 points, Me Zengyu added 19, and Nan Chen had 17 for China.

Earlier on Sunday, hosts Japan beat Chinese Taipei 83-56 to finish third in the competition.

Meanwhile, a rebooted Indian side, with its experienced American coach Pete Gaudet, didn't exactly show many performances to write home about. India had been handed the gift and the curse of playing in 'Level I' of the competition, with all the powerhouse sides in Asia, for a chance to play meaningful games and win the tournament. While India have proven to be stronger than the majority of Asian teams in this tournament in recent years, there is still a wide gulf when it comes to competition against the best. The Indian team lost all five of their Preliminary Round games, but won a playoff against Malaysia to qualify for Level I again in the 2013 Championship and return with a 1-5 record.

India played their first game against Chinese Taipei, who started off slow, but quickly settled in and blew past us. Led by Liu Chun-Yi's 19 points, Chinese Taipei defeated India by 28 points, 81-53 - the only positive for India in this game was that the performance against the same rivals was better than what India showed at the William Jones Cup only weeks earlier. India were led, unsurprisingly, by the stalwart Center Geethu Anna Jose, who had 18 points and 8 rebounds in the game.

Eventual finalists Korea were next on the bill for the Indian Women: Once again, India started well defensively, as Korea held to a slim 17-12 lead at the end of the 1st quarter. However, India had offensive problems of their own, and no one but Geethu showed any capability of being able to score easily. Geethu had another dominant game - 27 points and 10 rebounds - scoring more than half of India's points on the night. It wasn't enough, as Korea used a 19-2 run to close the first half and cruise to a 83-47 win. Ajeong Kang had 17 points for Korea.

Things didn't get any easier for Gaudet's squad, as the very next afternoon, they faced China. China unleashed their giant Center Wei Wei - the tallest player in the tournament - to counter Geethu. Standing at 6 foot 9 inches, India had no answer for her, despite a surprisingly strong start (once more). The game was tied 12-12 at the end of the first quarter, and India led by 2 a few minutes into the second. But China woke up and completely flipped the game around, going on a 32-8 run in the third and then 27-12 in the fourth quarter, destroying India by 49 points to win 87-38. After the game, Gaudet conceded that his team threw in the towel in the second half. “There was a point at which we realized we couldn’t continue fighting hard and last the competition. I am glad we fought very hard in the early part."

Hosts Japan played India in their fourth game, and this time, India failed to notch a positive start, scoring only five points in the first quarter. Behind 22 points and 14 rebounds by Moeka Nagaoka, Japan saw no resistance from India, apart from a 16 point outing by Geethu. Japan won 79-51.

So far, each of India's opponents had been ranked far ahead them in the FIBA rankings, but when India (ranked 41) took on Lebanon (ranked 55) in the last Preliminary Round game, it was our chance to get a crucial victory and hope to improve on last tournament's showing by finishing 5th. Alas, it was not to be: Lebanon put the clamp on India's offense early and flew to a 17 point lead in the first quarter. India played well in the second quarter, but led their opponents run away again after halftime. A huge run in the fourth was still not enough to stop India from going down by 19, 71-52. Chada Nasr of Lebanon had 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Brittany Janelle Denson added 16 points with 7 rebounds. For India, it was again the Geethu lone show, as the Keralite scored 21 points to go with 9 boards.

Finishing at the bottom of Level I, it came down to a crucial playoff game against Level II top-finishers Malaysia for India to hope to remain in the competition. The game between the two closely-matched sides was as exciting as advertised, as the teams exchanged the lead during the first two and half quarters, before India began to pull away for good. For the first time India had a major high scorer apart from Geethu, as her Southern Railway teammate Anitha Pauldurai paced the side with 23 points and five assists. Geethu added 18, to go with 10 rebounds. Malaysia made a comeback in the fourth, but two clutch drives by Prashanti Singh sealed India's lone victory in the competition, 66-60.

India’s best player during the course of the championship was, not-so-shockingly, Geethu Anna Jose, who finished as the tournament’s third leading scorer (18.7 points per game) and sixth leading rebounder (7.2 rebounds per game). Geethu led India in points, rebounds, and blocks.

Siddarth Sharma has done a great job in compiling all the stats - totals and averages - of the Indian players in the six games that India played in the tournament in an article for SportsKeeda. Besides Geethu, the only other Indian player to average double digits in points was Anitha Pauldurai, who chipped in 10.5 points per game, and also led India with 2.7 assists per game.

The team returns back from Japan on Monday night, and will be relatively free of any major tournaments in the near future. Before heading to Japan, Gaudet only had a few months with the squad - we hope that by the time we return to this tournament in 2013, India would be ready to take the next step, and maybe win a game or two in Level I!

Final Standings

1. China
2. Korea
3. Japan
4. Chinese Taipei
5. Lebanon

Tournament All Star Team:

  • Miao Lijie (China) MVP
  • Choi Youn-Ah (Korea)
  • Yuko Oga (Japan)
  • Sin Jung-Ja (Korea)
  • Nan Chen (China)

  • GD Goenka Boys, Montfort Girls win 2nd Delhi School Basketball League

    A month of action, over 60 games between dozens of teams, at dozens of courts around Delhi, and it all boiled down to the last minute and the last shots. In an exciting finale to the 2nd edition of the Delhi School Basketball League, the Boys’ team from the GD Goenka School survived a late rally by hosts Delhi Public School (Mathura Road) to win 52-50 and clinch their first championship on Monday. The Girls’ final was relatively anti-climatic, with an excellent Montfort side doubling up their victory from last year and once again defeating Modern 49-20 in the final to finish first for the second consecutive year.

    The tournament was organised by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI).

    GD Goenka, who finished at third place at last year’s tournament, entered into a hostile environment as the home crowd brought loud support behind the DPS (MR) side at the final. DPS, who had finished at the top of their Super League group, seemed to be favourites, but sharp, focused play by the visitors gave them an 8 point lead at halftime. DPS began their comeback in the third quarter, and made it a three point game before the final period. It remained close, but DPS failed to take the lead as the time ticked down.

    With 1 point between the two sides in the last minute, Goenka’s inspirational guard and scoring leader Dhruv Barman hit a crucial three-pointer to seal the game for good, 52-50. Dhruv led the way with 20 points for the winning side.

    “I can’t describe the feeling of having won this, it’s the greatest!” said Dhruv, “The Seniors of the team, like me, were all very emotional to have been able to win this championship before we leave school. The team depended on me to hit the final shot, and I have won it for them and for my coach.”

    The girls final, a repeat of last year’s final, turned out to be a dud, as Montfort sped to a fast lead and never looked back. Playing without their leader Manini Rai, Montfort had no problem sharing the load amongst the rest of the squad. Tough defense completely shunned Modern School from scoring, as they only managed nine points in the last three quarters of the game. Montfort cruised to a comfortable 49-20 win and their second straight victory at this championship.

    “We had to come out and play without Manini, and the whole team stepped up to play well today,” said leading scorer for Montfort, Aastha Goel, “It feels great to get this win.”

    Earlier in the day, Modern Boys played out a close contest against Montfort in the third/fourth place game, which was decided in overtime. Modern came back from a four-point deficit at the beginning of the fourth quarter to tie the game in regulation and clinch a four-point victory at the end of overtime, 77-73. Archit (26), Satyam (24), and Pranav (21) all scored a high rate for the winning side. For Montfort, Unnat had 25 points in a loss.

    Third place for the girls had been won by Bal Bharti Public School, who defeated Carmel Convent School a few days ago.

    Winning teams in both the sections were awarded Rs. 75,000 each by the BFI. Runners-up received Rs. 50,000 each, and second runners-up were given Rs. 25,000 each.

    Final Scores


  • GD Goenka School (Dhruv 20, Daksh 15) bt. Delhi Public School (Mathura Road) (Roopender 15, Ramit 15) 52-50 (15-10, 14-11, 10-14, 13-15)


  • Montfort School (Aastha 15, Gayatri 12, Shaifali 12) bt. Modern School 49-20 (17-11, 19-1, 9-6, 4-2)
  • August 26, 2011

    BFI announces U18 boys’ & girls’ teams for 1st FIBA 3x3 Youth World Championship

    The Basketball Federation of India (BFI) have announced the U18 boys’ and girls’ teams that will represent India at the first-ever FIBA Invitational 3x3 Youth World Championship in the city of Rimini, Italy, from September 9-11, 2011. Teams from India will be amongst 36 boys’ and 24 girls’ teams from around the world taking part in this competition.

    3x3 Basketball is the formalised version of three-on-three, half-court basketball. The format got its first major international test at the 2010 Youth Olympics in Singapore. The fast-paced games are played on one half of the FIBA regulation court. Each team contingent will consist of four players, of whom three will be on court at any given time, and one coach.

    The Indian U18 girls’ team will be led by Pete Gaudet, the American basketball coach who is also the head coach of India’s Senior Women’s team. U18 Boys will be led by Coach Kulwinder Singh Gill from Madhya Pradesh.

    India U18 basketball teams for the 1st FIBA 3x3 World Championship:


  • Kirti Goswami (Madhya Pradesh)
  • Love Neet Singh (Punjab)
  • Ajay Pratap Singh (Chhattisgarh)
  • Sivabalan Gnanasekaran (Tamil Nadu)
  • Coach: Kulwinder Singh Gill


  • Jeena PS (Kerala)
  • Aishwarya Natarajan (Tamil Nadu)
  • Amrutha Bhuskute (Maharashtra)
  • Shireen Limaye (Maharashtra)
  • Coach: Pete Gaudet

    Here is the complete list of teams who will be participating in this tournament:

    Boys: Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Egypt, England, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Guam, India, Italy, Jordan, Japan, Latvia, Netherlands, Nepal, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Romania, South Africa, Russia, Singapore, Slovenia, Serbia, Spain, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, Venezuela.

    Girls: Angola, Australia, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Egypt, England, Germany, Greece, Guam, India, Italy, Japan, Netherland, Russia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, Venezuela.
  • August 25, 2011

    Former NBA champ Steve Smith to launch NBA Jam in India

    Steve Smith, the former NBA champ will be visiting India to launch the 3rd 'NBA Jam'. Smith, who had a fairly productive career in the 1990s, which included an All Star appearance in 1998 and winning a championship in his ageing years with the San Antonio Spurs in 2003.

    His years with the Miami Heat (1991-1995) and the Hawks (1994-99) were probably the most productive individually of his career (he averaged above 20 ppg three times in this stretch), and the stint with the Spurs was his high-point for team success, but I remember Smith mostly for his contribution to the Portland Traiblazers, for whom he played just 2 seasons from 1999-2001, but left some indelible memories.

    That Blazers team will go down in history as one of the greatest to NOT win an NBA championship. In 2000, Portland boasted a team with Damon Stoudamire, Steve Smith, Scottie Pippen, Rasheed Wallace, and Arvydas Sabonis in the starting lineup, and Bonzi Wells, Detlef Schrempf, Brian Grant, Jermaine O'Neal, and Greg Anthony off the bench. Averaging 14.9 ppg, Smith was the 2nd leading scorer in this balanced squad. This team banded together to give the LA Lakers one of the most classic Conference Finals of all time, and on of the best NBA games ever. With the series tied 3-3, the Blazers blew a 15 point lead in the fourth quarter and watched the Lakers reach the NBA finals, and eventually become champions for the first time in the Shaq-Kobe era.

    Smith did get his ring though, with the Tim Duncan-led Spurs three years later. A specialised shooter, he played his role of the bench to help the team succeed.

    Since retirement, Smith has worked in broadcasting, both for the Atlanta Hawks and for NBA TV.

    Smith will be launching the NBA Jam on September 10-11 at the Ambiance Mall in Gurgaon. From

    NBA JAM India is a four-city, five-week free interactive basketball experience, which captures the excitement of the NBA through basketball activities, entertainment acts, and off-court events. The opening event will take place on September 10 & 11 and then travel to five malls across Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore.

    NBA Legend Steve Smith will launch the event in Delhi, interacting with the fans and spectators at the event and making various marketing appearances during his time in India.

    At NBA Jam, fans are transported to the floor of an NBA arena on Center Court, which hosts exciting skill competitions and shooting contests. The highlight activity of NBA Jam will be the Sprite 3x3 tournament which will run daily at each NBA Jam stop.

    August 23, 2011

    NBA players go Wild, International

    It's been 55 days, 7 hours, 5 minutes, 14 seconds, and counting since the NBA announced that it will commence a lockout of its players, until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached with the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), as per the excellent counter on There was never going to be basketball in the off-season, anyways, but with a lockout, there will be no official training camp, no Summer League, no pre-season, and no regular season until the agreement is reached.

    Take a deep breath, inhale the disaster and depression of this happening, and then exhale it all out. There is an extremely faint silver lining to all this doom and gloom.

    One of the most interesting lists currently online is on the excellent basketball website, Go to and you will immediately unlock a wealth of information in one short html page. This is because this page currently lists NBA players who have signed a contract to play with international teams during the lockout, and another list of players who are considering it. NBA players aren't just the world's biggest basketball superstars, they are also the world's hardest working basketball players, and like you and me and your cousin and that guy you punked on the court last week, they really, really love the game. A prolonged period without competitive basketball can be hell for even the best of them, and that's why, many NBA players are opting for the next best solution: playing overseas until the issue is resolved. FIBA cleared the way for NBA players under contract to play overseas until work stoppage, and many players are taking advantage of this.

    Now, NBA players have been flirting with the overseas option for a long time. Amongst the American players who have made the jump recently have included former MVP Allen Iverson (who played for Besiktas in Turkey last year), Stephon Marbury (played in the Chinese Basketball Association, the CBA, for the Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons and the Foshan Dralions, and was the CBA's all star MVP!) Josh Childress (played for Olympiacos in Greece from 2008-10), Rafer Alston (for Zhejiang Guangsha in China), Casey Jacobsen (who has spent several years in the German League, and has dominated, winning Finals MVP twice), and Steve Francis (who had a failed stint with the Beijing Ducks in China). Of course, a lot of the NBA's international players have also chosen to go back to their home countries in the past after a stint in the NBA, such as Rasho Nesterovic, Juan Carlos Navarro, Fran Vasquez, and many many more whom I can't think of right now.

    But now, the situation is different. Of course, the NBA is considered to be the Mecca for basketball stars, as the ultimate destination for the world's best players. Earlier, NBA stars went overseas if they weren't getting their desired salary/role/opportunity to play with the NBA; now, with the lockout, none of the players will be getting their desired salary/role/opportunity. It's a free for all.

    The biggest name to sign an overseas contract so far in this lockout has been Nets' point guard Deron Williams, who made waves by announcing that he was going to sign with Besiktas in Turkey for the duration of the lockout. Williams, one of the best point guards in the NBA, immediately becomes the best "in his prime" player to take his talents outside the NBA, at least in recent years.

    Since the lockout, Williams has been followed by many more. A quick glance of the list of 30 players (and growing) on HoopsHype shows up names such as Toronto's Leandro Barbosa, who has signed with Flamengo in his home country of Brazil, Nenad Krstic, who will be heading to play for CSKA Moscow in Russia, Ty Lawson has signed a contract with Zalgiris Kaunus in Lithuania, and Nicolas Batum of the TrailBlazers is going back to France to play for Nancy.

    The biggest name who has been linked with overseas play though has been Kobe Bryant. Kobe was recruited heavily by Besiktas in Turkey and by Shanxi Zhongyu in China. So far, there has been no formal commitment by Kobe, but watch this space.

    China seems to be by far the best destination for NBA players, and funny, that the one to make the breakthrough in this country was NBA-nutcase Stephon Marbury. But the problem with China is that the CBA have aren't happy with NBA players using them and leaving them: they have decided to ban players already with an NBA contract to sign a contract with a Chinese team. Immediately, players like Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, Amar'e Stoudemire, etc, who had expressed interest in China before, had to back off a bit. Kobe could still play in China though, as Shanxi Zhongyu has invited Kobe to play for the team in some warm-up games or exhibition games before the CBA season starts, which is not against the rule.

    Amongst the other players who are showing interest in going the international way include Ron Artest, who has been flirting with the Cheshire Jets, a team of the British Basketball League. Brandon Jennings, who spent one year playing in Italy before coming to the NBA, is considering heading back out there again. Other players showing 'high' interest to jet overseas include Stephen Curry, Andrei Kirilenko, Aaron Brooks, Jared Dudley, and many, many more.

    Not everyone, of course, feels that it is necessary to sign a professional contract overseas to play overseas: the mother of all lockout/international news came from the Philippines, where Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose, Durant, Chris Paul, JaVale McGee, James Harden, Derrick Williams, and Tyreke Evans played in two exhibition games. News is that after the success at Philippines, NBA stars like Durant, Rose, Paul, and Pau Gasol will head to Australia for a tour next.

    Back in the States, Kevin Durant has been absolutely killing the street basketball world this lockout, including an impressive 66 point game at the Rucker Park. Kobe and James Harden have had impressive performances at the Drew League. There have been several other notable streetball appearances by NBA stars.

    And then there are players who are getting even more creative with their time: The Lakers Luke Walton has joined the University of Memphis as an assistant coach. Former Kentucky players like John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo, Eric Bledsoe, and Jodie Meeks might go back to complete their education. A former Volleyball superstar, the Rockets' Chase Budinger returns to try his hand again at the sport.

    And it's a good thing, too, because there is nothing more dangerous and being idol in many cases. Already, the off-season has seen NBA players get themselves in all sorts of wildness. Michael Beasley was caught with weed, and later shoved a fan during a streetball game. Matt Barnes punched a fan, too. Darius Miles, who was arrested for trying to bring a loaded gun through airport security, Rafer Alston, who was sued over his alleged role in a strip club fight, and Samaki Walker, who allegedly tried to eat eight grams of marijuana during a traffic stop in Arizona, during which police also confiscated prescription drugs and liquid steroids. The great Kobe Bryant is being accused of hitting someone who tried to take a cell-phone photo of him in church.

    Aaaaahhh... How I miss the good ol' days when the daily basketball related news items were about Derrick Rose winning an MVP or LeBron James choking against the Mavericks. Now, we have to deal with an off-season of emptiness, with no horizon in sight, although it has been mildly improved by the NBA players' enthusiasm at playing the game they love, whenever and wherever!

    The NBA may or may not be coming soon (probably the latter), but there is hope ahead: The European Basketball Championship, or EuroBasket, featuring the best players in Europe, including several NBA stars, kicks off in Lithuania in a little more than a week. As the message on the T-shirts that some NBA players wore of the Goodman-Drew streetball game says: 'Basketball Never Stops'.

    August 21, 2011

    Indian Women at 24th FIBA Asia Championship: A Preview

    *Photos here are all from India's games at the 2009 FIBA Asia Basketball Championships in Chennai

    There are at least half a dozen little cliched phrases bouncing around in my head right now when trying to describe the challenge that the Indian basketball team are soon about to face at the 24th FIBA Asia Championship for Women in Omura, Japan. Baptism by fire. Against all odds. Backs against the wall.

    Because what India are about to face (actually, what they have already started facing, since I wrote this after our first game against Chinese Taipei), is their toughest, most brutal stretch of basketball in recent memory. India finished 6th at the FIBA ABC in Chennai in 2009, and it was good enough for us to qualify in the 'Level 1' of the championship this year. What it means that we will be playing most of our games against the best teams in Asia this time. India is ranked #41 in the world FIBA rankings; In the five days between August 21-25, India will play five games, against Chinese Taipei (rank 22), Korea (9), Asian Champions China (8), hosts Japan (15), and Lebanon (55). That means that, apart from Lebanon, each team we will face will be ranked far above us. Even Chinese Taipei, who are the lowest of the 'Big 4' in our group, defeated us by 45 points at the William Jones Cup a few weeks ago.

    Indeed, its going to be tough pickings for India's new coach Pete Gaudet, who has spent barely two and half months at the helm of the team after a career that spanned 40 years in basketball, mostly holding on to assistant coaching roles in NCAA D1 colleges like Duke, Vanderbilt, and OSU. Gaudet got a chance to test the team out a little at the William Jones tournament in Taiwan two weeks ago, where India got just 1 victory - albeit a wonderful won - over the Korea 'Samsung' team.

    The 2011 Women's FIBA ABC is divided into two levels: Level I and Level II. The two lowest finishers of Level I meets the top two finishers to determine which teams qualify for the top Level of the 2013 championship. The losers are relegated to Level II. India and Lebanon are likely to be these two teams. Level II consists of six teams all ranked below India (Indonesia, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Uzbekistan). For India to remain in Level I in 2013 and have a chance to actually enter the knock-out stage of the tournament, they will have to beat a team that has finished in the top 2 from Level II.

    There is of course the other possibility that India perform a miracle and finish in the top 4 of Level I. Unlikely, I know, but I still have to discuss the possibility: it that happens, we will enter the Semi-Final round of the championship.

    As for our team: once again, everything India does will start and end with our inspirational, superstar Center, Geethu Anna Jose. Geethu was the best individual performer in the 2009 championships and is the only Indian to complete a trial with WNBA teams. The 26-year-old is just entering her prime, and with a coach like Gaudet who is an expert on post play (he actually wrote a book about it), Geethu should once again be India's superstar.

    Point guard Akanksha Singh captains the team for the first time, and is one of the best ball handlers I've seen in India. Alongside her in the starting line-up will be India's former captain and Akanksha's older sister, Prashanti Singh, and their Delhi teammate, Raspreet Sidhu. Anitha Pauldurai, who was one of the best players for India at the William Jones Cup, rounds up the starting five. India's bench will really have to step up and I have a feeling that many of them will not be getting a lot of minutes at the FIBA ABC, forcing greater strain on the starters. Girls like Pushpa Maddu and Kokila Subramani have the potential to have good stretches. I'm also excited about 16-year-old Shireen Limaye, who made her Indian debut at the William Jones Cup and will become one of our best players in the future.

    Yes, India will lose a lot, and yes, India will lose big, but let's not lose heart: India has qualified into Level I, and have 'earned' the opportunity to lose big against Asia's biggest, instead of playing less meaningful games against the second-tier teams. Even if we don't make it to the top 4, hopefully we can put up a good performance against Lebanon and in our qualifying round match against a Level II team.

    Improvement will come step by step: We finished at 6th place in Chennai. I predict that our girls will be able to do one better, finish 5th this time around, and a better, badder team will return in 2013 after a couple of years with Coach Gaudet and aim for greater heights.

    August 20, 2011

    Hall of The Worm

    I was 11 when I first decided to give the game of basketball a chance. I wasn't very inspired and wasn't very good. I played mostly in the Ridgewood Dorm basketball court in my boarding school, a court that had some of the most unique dimensions I have ever experienced: two nine-and-half-feet high baskets, separated on a not-so-straight open court, barely two-thirds the size of a real court. The basket on one of the ends was on a tree. Yes!

    But it was here that I first tried out my very limited hand in the game, and I did what every bumbling, struggling, out-of-sync newcomer does: find out that one thing that I was comfortable with, and then specialise in it. Some of the guys were great at outside shots from their hot-spots. Some were aspiring Jason Williams', focusing more on how beautiful their dribble looked than their actual shot. Some had become so familiar with the backboards that they had an uncanny and unstoppable skill of Dwyane-Wade-esque difficult layups, a skills that came especially handy when playing Air-21.

    I had an awkward shot, the worst handles known to man, and little to no court vision. But I did have incredibly long arms, giving me a wingspan longer than even the boys who were taller than me. During shoot-around, we played the simple 'make it - take it' system: if you make it, you get the ball back. Otherwise, the dozen or so people standing below the basket hustle and fight for the rebound to get a chance at their own shot.

    And so, my longer-than-average-arms, and the challenge to win a rebound against a dozen others against low odds, combined to gave me my first real basketball skills: rebounding. And it was during my rebounding dominant moments that some NBA-affluent friend called me a 'Worm'.

    "A what?"

    "A Worm. The Worm. Like Dennis Rodman."


    I didn't know squat about the NBA beyond Magic & Michael when I first heard the name Rodman, but it wasn't going to be easy to forget him once I dug a little deeper. I found out that this cross-dressing, cameraman-kicking, hair-bleaching, strange man was also the man synonomous with rebounds. As a matter of fact, I will be shocked if Oxford made an Official Basketball Dictionary and a photograph of Dennis Rodman didn't take up the full page next to the definition of 'rebounds'.

    Because Dennis Rodman, or 'The Worm' as he was nicknamed, is the greatest rebounder of the basketball in history. And now I'm going to tell you why.

    A week ago, Dennis Rodman was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame, a moment he capped off with one of the most emotional speeches ever given at the Hall. At only 6-foot-7 inches, Rodman constantly played bigger than his size, defending both the forward positions and the Center with ease, and playing power forward for most of his career on the offensive end. The post-merger NBA has never seen a more tenacious rebounder: Rodman led the league in rebounding an unbelievable SEVEN times, from 1992-1998! And this was in an era where he regularly went up against the likes of Hakeem Olajuwan, Charles Barkley, Shaq, Charles Oakley, Kevin Garnett, and Karl Malone.

    Here was a man who averaged just 7.3 points per game during the course of his career and now finds himself in the Hall of Fame. It was his rebounding and defense that got him enshrined in the Hall, and the rebound stats in particular tell more than their share of the tale. Since 1973, no player has had a better rebounding average than Rodman, at 13.1 a game. Since 1973, Rodman owns five out of the top eight single season rebounding records, with a top two of 18.7 rpg and 18.3 rpg in 1992 and 1993 respectively. Take a look at those dates again: these otherworldy stats weren't achieved in the 'black-and-white' era of Chamberlain-Russell NBA, where the NBA only had a few taller athletic players and a fast paced to the game meant that the likes of Chamberlain and Russell got most of the rebounds available. These stats are from relatively recent years - the 90s, an era that Rodman dominated.

    And as the old adage says, "Defense and Rebounding wins championships" - and Rodman did his fair share of winning too, getting five rings. He was the defensive heart and soul of the Detroit Pistons Bad Boys teams that won two rings in 1989 and 1990, and part of his responsibility was shutting down Michael Jordan. He spent a couple of seasons with the Spurs, where he began to stake his claim as the most dominant rebounder in the league. And as most recent history will remember him, he joined Jordan and Pippen in the legendary Chicago Bulls team for their second three-peat, winning three more championships from 1996-98.

    And on a sidenote: how damn great was that Bulls team? They had the greatest player of all time, the greatest wingman/do-it-all player of all time, and the greatest rebounder of all time. The best part of the Jordan-Pippen-Rodman trio was that not only were they the teams three biggest stars, but they were the three best defenders, perhaps three of the top six or seven defenders in the league at their time.

    During the course of his career, Rodman was named Defensive Player of the Year twice while with the Pistons, was an all star twice (few players not named Ben Wallace become all stars by averaging below 10 points a game), and seven times into the NBA All Defensive first team.

    He did some time with the Lakers and the Mavs before calling it a day, but one of the most amusing things for me to now check up Rodman's career are the names of the teams he played for AFTER his NBA career: these include the Long Beach Jam, Orange County Crush, and Tijuana Dragons of the ABA, a team in Finland (Torpan Pojat) and in England (Brigton Bears).

    On the course of his journey, Rodman did a lot of crazy shit too, and it is perhaps his extracurricular activities that made him so unpredictable off the court. Out of the large number of these activities, here are my top 3:
    1) He wore a wedding dress to promote his autobiography.
    2) He was a part time pro-wrestler, and fought alongside Hulk Hogan
    3) He was in a movie with Jean Claude Van Damme, called Double Team. Find it: it's great! (ok, keep your expectations low)

    Despite all this though, his on-court production never changed, and even at an old age, he continued to hustle hard, defend hard, rebound hard, and win rings.

    And now, here is perhaps the greatest part of the Rodman story: how he fought against all the odds to become what he did. Dennis Rodman was never supposed to be the greatest ever rebounder, never supposed to be a hall of famer. He suffered an unhappy childhood, struggled through poverty and tragedy, and somehow made the NBA despite having outstanding offensive skills, and even then was a rookie at the advanced age of 25. He kept persisting, kept improving, won the rings, the DPOY accolades, the rebounding titles, and became a part of one of the greatest teams ever. And by his last title, he was already 37 years old, still reading the NBA in boards!

    I didn't know these things when I was 11, when I was falling in love with the art of the rebound, when someone called me a 'worm' and I failed to realise that it was a compliment and not an insult. I added several more arsenals to my game since then, but that love for the boards never changed, and neither did my respect for Dennis Rodman. What I see now is that, 'The Worm' stood for more than just the ability to get rebounds. 'The Worm' stood for perseverance, hustle, an undying love for the game.

    His career, and his life, mirror his rebounding skill. Without having the size to do it, he had the uncanny skill to break the odds and position himself for success. He jumped higher than anyone else, even those bigger and more skilled than him, to either grab the ball, or tip it away, back to himself, just like in life, he was able to tip the favours towards himself, to grab the NBA's biggest challenges by its horns. And then he would secure the rebound, just like he would secure success, and then he would do it over and over again, becoming the best at one of the most beautiful arts in basketball.

    August 18, 2011

    India to take part in 3x3 Beach Basketball tournament at 1st South Asian Beach Games in Sri Lanka

    Different twist, same game: if you haven't paid attention to International Beach Basketball yet, it might just be time to start. India will be sending both Men and Women Senior basketball teams to the 1st South Asian Beach Games that will be held in Hanbantota, Sri Lanka, from October 8-16, 2011. India will be amongst eight South Asian countries taking part in the Games, and the 3x3 Beach Basketball tournament will feature four-player contingents sent from India in both the Men’s and the Women’s divisions.

    Hosts Sri Lanka will welcome Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Pakistan to the 2011 South Asian Beach Games, which will feature competitions in 12 sports: Beach Basketball, Beach Football, Beach Handball, Beach Kabbadi, Beach Netball, Beach Volleyball, Beach Body Building, Equestrian, Life Saving, Sailing, Swimming, and Triathlon.

    Beach Basketball is a modified version of basketball which will be played on the sand on a circular court with no backboard on the goal and no out-of-bounds rule. Amongst the several amended rules in this version of the sport, dribbling of the basketball is not allowed and ball movement is to be done via passes or two and half steps. Each team will have three starting players and one substitute.

    India will be carrying some modest pedigree into the Beach Basketball format of the game: India’s Men’s team, featuring Pratham Singh, Arjun Singh, Sunil Kumar Rathee, and Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, won the gold medal at the 3x3 basketball tournament of the 2008 Asian Beach Games in Bali, Indonesia. India finished at top amongst the eight participating teams, defeating Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Philippines in the final in the process.

    Although they didn't share the success of the Men, Indian Women, represented by Lutukurthy Deepa, Smruthi Radhakrishnan, Stephy Nixon, and Kavita helped the team get the bronze medal after finished third out of the five women's teams in the tournament.

    Theoretically, India should have an easier time dominating the South Asian rivals than they did against team from the rest of Asia.

    Now, on the questionable 'Beach' format though: I have already written about my reservations of the FIBA 3x3 format, but Beach Basketball is different because it represents a fully 'casual' form of the game, instead of a form that is vying for a place in the Olympics (like FIBA 3x3 is). That said, it is still strange to place a game that doesn't involve dribbling and backboards in the 'basketball' category: if anything, Beach Basketball is much closer to Netball, a game that I've never really been a fan of.

    But hey, it makes no sense to dribble on sand right? And you won't hear the players complaining about the 'seriousness' of the game when they find themselves enjoying barefoot hoops on the sunny beaches of Sri Lanka.

    August 17, 2011

    India’s U18 Boys & Girls to participate in 1st FIBA 3x3 World Championship

    FIBA will be hosting the first-ever Invitational 3x3 Youth World Championship in the city of Rimini, Italy, from September 9-11, 2011. The competition will take place simultaneously for U18 boys and girls. Teams from India have been invited to take part in both divisions of this first ever major 3x3 championship amongst the 36 boys’ and 24 girls’ teams from around the world.

    Attending teams include many traditional basketball forces of the likes of the USA, Spain, Greece, Serbia, China, Australia, Angola and Puerto Rico, as well countries less renowned for their basketball such as Singapore, South Africa, Syria and even the small pacific island of Guam.

    While showcasing top level basketball, the event will have a young and fresh atmosphere - reflecting both the discipline and the location - with top DJs playing music during the games, numerous skills challenges, as well as other entertainment and side activities.

    The Invitational 3x3 Youth World Championship will be the second international 3x3 tournament, following last year's success of the discipline at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.

    Boys' participating teams: Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Egypt, England, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Guam, India, Italy, Jordan, Japan, Latvia, Netherlands, Nepal, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Romania, South Africa, Russia, Singapore, Slovenia, Serbia, Spain, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, USA and Venezuela.

    Girls' participating teams: Angola, Australia, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Egypt, England, Germany, Greece, Guam, India, Italy, Japan, Netherland, Russia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, USA and Venezuela.

    FIBA intends on subsequently holding this event annually. In years to come, the selection process to determine the participating teams will be done through dedicated qualifiers as well as the 3x3 Individual Ranking.

    For more information about 3x3 Basketball, please visit

    August 15, 2011

    Iran Men win 3rd straight William Jones Cup

    Iran Men's team beat Korea 66-59 in the final of the 2011 William Jones Basketball Tournament at the Sinjhuang Stadium in Taipei (Chinese Taipei) on Sunday, August 14 to notch their third consecutive top place finish at the tournament.

    Iran finished the tournament with a 7-2 record. A dominating performance by Iran's superstar Hamed Ehadadi sealed the deal in the final game, as he scored 35 points and grabbed 18 rebounds. Korea took a three point lead in the first half, but a resurgent Iran performance after the break saw them overturn the score to win the tie. Jinzhou Cheng led Korea with 19 points.

    Philippines won the third-place match-up against hosts Chinese Taipei, outmuscling their way to a 82-72 win on Sunday.

    Iran had won the William Jones Cup in its last two editions. The women's competition, in which the Indian team participated, concluded 10 days ago with the host team Chinese Taipei finishing at first place.

    August 14, 2011

    Mahindra NBA Challenge returns to Bangalore for 2nd Season

    After a successful opening season and a promising start to their second edition in Mumbai, Delhi and Ludhiana, the Mahindra NBA League Challenge returns to Bangalore, promising exciting action. The league, to be held at the Sri Kantaveera Stadium from August 13 to September 30, will have 96 teams participating, as compared to last year’s 76.

    With the addition of sub-junior category (12-13 years), matches will be played in four age groups, with youth (14-16 years), junior (16-18) and senior (19 and above), being the other three. The league will culminate with the All-Star game from Sept 30 to Oct 2.

    “We have more teams, more venues, more matches, more action and it’s all going to be good for Indian basketball,” said Akash Jain, Senior Director of Business Development and Partnerships for NBA India.

    August 13, 2011

    Schedule released for 26th FIBA Asia Championship for Men

    The schedule of games for the Preliminary Round of the 26th FIBA Asia Championship has been announced.

    Hosts and 2009 FIBA Asia Championship silver medalists China will take on GCC’s Bahrain on the first day of the competition on Sept 15 with twice defending champions Iran taking on East Asian outfit Chinese Taipei.

    2009 FIBA Asia Championship bronze medalists Jordan meet fellow WABA team Syria; 2010 FIBA Asia Stankovic Cup winners and 2009 FIBA Asia Championship semifinalists Lebanon go up against SAARC champions India; SEABA champions Philippines take on GCC’s UAE and East Asia champions Korea meet Malaysia in other marquee clashes of the opening day.

    Click here for Complete Preliminary Round Schedule.

    India, who won the SAARC Mid Asia Zone Qualifying Round last month, have been placed in Group A of the competition along with Lebanon, Malaysia, and Korea.

    Preliminary Round Schedule for India

  • 15 Sep 2011, Thursday, 8 PM: India vs. Lebanon (Hongshan)
  • 16 Sep 2011, Friday, 6 PM: India vs. Malaysia (Hongshan)
  • 17 Sep 2011, Saturday, 1:30 PM: India vs. Korea (Wuhan Sports Centre)

    About 26th FIBA Asia Championship

    Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province in China, will play host to 16 top teams from five different FIBA Asia sub-zones to identify the Champion men’s team of FIBA Asia.

    The FIBA Asia Championship, played every two years, is the most important event in FIBA Asia involving the top men’s National Teams.

    The 26th FIBA Asia Championship, also the qualifying event for the 2012 London Olympics, will be held from Sept 15-25 at Wuhan.

    The champion team from Wuhan will directly qualify for the most significant sporting event at the British capital, while the No 2 and No 3 teams will qualify for the FIBA Olympic qualifying tournament.

    The 26th FIBA Asia Championship is the fifth occasion when China will host this prestigious event – 1989 Beijing, 2001 Shanghai, 2003 Harbin and 2009 Tianjin are the earlier occasions.
  • August 8, 2011

    India Women’s basketball team finalised for Japan FIBA Asia Championship

    The completed squad of Indian eves that will be leading the charge for India against some of Asia’s best basketball-playing nations has been announced by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI). India will send a 12 players, four officials, and two official FIBA referees as part of their contingent to the 24th FIBA Asia Championship for Women in Omura-Nagasaki in Japan from August 21-28, 2011.

    The players that India will send Japan for this prestigious tournament will be the same who represented India at the William Jones Cup in Chinese Taipei last week, including India’s only player to get a WNBA trial, Geethu Anna Jose, and other stars like Anitha Paul Durai and Prashanti Singh. 16-year-old star Shireen Limaye is the youngest member of this squad. India finished at fourth place at the William Jones Cup.

    Indian team for 24th FIBA Asia Championship for Women

  • Akanksha Singh (Delhi)
  • Anitha Paul Durai (Indian Railways)
  • Bharti (Indian Railways)
  • Geethu Anna Jose (Indian Railways)
  • Harjeet Kaur (Delhi)
  • Kruthika Lakshman (Karnataka)
  • Kokila Subramani (Tamil Nadu)
  • Prashanti Singh (Delhi)
  • Pushpa Maddu (Indian Railways)
  • Shireen Vijay Limaye (Maharashtra)
  • Smruthi Radhakrishnan (Indian Railways)
  • Sonika Ohylan (Delhi)*

  • Head Coach: Pete Gaudet
  • Assistant Coach: Abdul Hamid Khan
  • Trainer: Gopika Vijay Kachare
  • Physiotherapist: Sudhir Singh Rathore

  • FIBA Referee: Ceciline Michael Vino Vincent Francis Victor
  • FIBA Referee: Somasundaramoortyh Shanmugasundaram

    *Sonika was a late replacement for Raspreet Sidhu, who was excluded from the team due to injury.

    Asha Hegde (Delhi) have been selected as stand-by and will remain in camp with the National team.

    India have been placed in Level I of the Championship, along with champions China, hosts Japan, Korea, Chinese Taipei, and Lebanon. In Level II, the teams are Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Singapore.

    Hosts Japan will take on newly promoted Lebanon on the first day of the competition on Aug 21 with defending champions China taking on last edition’s runners-up and archrivals Korea. Chinese Taipei meet India to complete the day once proceedings.

    India’s Preliminary Round Schedule

  • 21st Aug, 2011 (Sunday): India vs. Chinese Taipei
  • 22nd Aug, 2011 (Monday): India vs. Korea
  • 23rd Aug, 2011 (Tuesday): India vs. China
  • 24th Aug, 2011 (Wednesday): India vs. Japan
  • 25th Aug, 2011 (Thursday): India vs. Lebanon

    The Semi-Finals of the tournament will be held on 27th Aug, 2011 (Saturday), and the Finals on 28th Aug, 2011 (Sunday). Click here for Complete Preliminary Round Schedule.

    About 24th FIBA Asia Championship for Women

    Omura, a castle town from where Catholic saint St. Marina de Omura hailed will play host to the 12 top women basketball teams in Asia from Aug 21-28, 2011. Six teams will form the Elite Level I, from where the champions will be decided.

    The champions of the 24th FIBA Asia Championship for Women will earn an automatic entry to the 2012 London Olympics. The teams finishing second and third will earn the opportunity to represent FIBA Asia in the FIBA Olympic Qualifiers.

    Six other teams will play in the Qualifying Level II with the top two attempting to earn promotion to next edition’s Level I.

    India were the hosts of previous FIBA Asia Championship for Women, which was held in 2009 in Chennai and won by China.
  • August 7, 2011

    India's Sr. Men's team return to camp in Delhi

    The Indian Sr. Men’s basketball team, who qualified for the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship (ABC) last month after winning the Middle Asia Zone Qualifiers, have returned to camp with head coach Kenny Natt at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in New Delhi from August 6th. In addition to the 12-man roster that participated in the qualifiers last month, six more probables have been invited for the camp, which will last until September 11.

    The FIBA Asia Championship for Men will be held in Wuhan, China, from September 15-25, 2011. India have been placed in Group A along with Lebanon, Malaysia, and Korea.

    Senior Men’s team probables:

  • Jagdeep Singh Bains (Punjab)
  • Satnam Singh Bhamara (IMG Academy/Punjab)
  • Vishesh Bhriguvanshi (Indian Railways)
  • Narender Kumar Garewal* (Services)
  • Sambhaji Kadam (Services)
  • Hareesh Koroth (Tamil Nadu)
  • Prakash Mishra (Indian Railways)
  • Abhilek Paul* (Tamil Nadu)
  • Eudrick Pereira (Kerala)
  • Basil Phillip* (Kerala)
  • Trideep Rai (Uttarakhand)
  • Riyazuddin (Uttarakhand)
  • Talwinderjit Singh Sahi* (Punjab)
  • Dishant Shah* (Gujarat)
  • Amrit Pal Singh (Punjab)
  • Amjyot Singh (Punjab)
  • Kiran Pal Singh* (Indian Railways)
  • Yadwinder Singh (Indian Railways)

  • Head Coach: Kenny Natt
  • Assistant Coach: Rajender Singh
  • Assistant Coach: Pawan Kumer
  • Strength & Conditioning Coach: Zak Penwell
  • Physiotherapist: Anand Dube

    The good news is that, in bringing back the same squad into camp that defeated Sri Lanka and Bangladesh by a margin of nearly 68 points a game, Coach Natt has ensured a sense of continuity at the camp. I've marked an (*) against the name of the six new players who have been invited as probables for the next month or so. The most exciting of these names, of course, is Talwinderjit Singh, or TJ Sahi, who is also known as the man who dunked over a Mumbai taxi! In a recent interview with The Mint, Natt conceded that the point guard situation was in limbo: Sambhaji Kadam, India's ageless wonder, had a good run in the MAZ qualifiers, but there are questions about his age/sustainability at the highest level. This is where Sahi could come in and contribute automatically.

    Sahi missed the earlier cut of 12 because of personal reasons, and now the pressure will be surely on him to integrate himself in this team if he wants to go to China with them.

    Of course, the rest of the usual suspects are back and will be looking to continue their confident run: Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, Jagdeep Singh Bains, and Yadwinder Singh. As I had noted after the qualifiers, what makes this team special is the balance of youth, experience, and prime. The youth quota looks especially interesting as the team as three under-20 players who are all 6 foot 9 and above: Amrit Pal Singh, Amjyot Singh, and 15-year-old, 7 foot 1 wonder, Satnam Singh Bhamara. I also like the addition of another talented young big - Dishant Shah of Gujarat - to the team.

    The tournament in China is a little over a month away, and Natt will cut his roster down to 12 again for the championship. Malaysia, Korea, and Lebanon are obviously going to present competition of a much higher order than our South Asian neighbours. Let's hope that, between now and then, Team India continue to improve enough to at least give the superior teams a run for their money.
  • August 5, 2011

    Taiwan Women win William Jones Cup; India return with a 1-3 record

    Hosts Taiwan had no trouble dominating the home court at the Taipei Gymnasium between July 31-August 4, as they posted a perfect 4-0 record to top the five-team table and win the William Jones Cup. With the FIBA Asia Championship for Women only a few weeks away, this tournament served as a good warm-up for the participating teams, including the Indian Women's contingent who played their first competitive international games under new head coach Pete Gaudet.

    India may have returned with just one win out of four, but their performance in that single win against the Korea Samsung side, coupled with a few stretches of good basketball against tough opponents in the other games, may have left Coach Gaudet with signs of optimism for the team's future.

    India played their first game of the tournament against Taiwan World University Games (WUG) side. The game immediately became a showcase of the skills of India's Center Geethu Anna Jose, who continued to cement her position as one of the best players in all of Asia. While India started the game confidently, and trailed by just 1 in the first period, Taiwan WUG put the clamps down defensively on India, in the second, outscoring them 18-6 in the second quarter to hold on to a 35-22 half-time lead. The game became looser in the second half as both sides found the basket easily.

    Trailing by 17 at the end of the third period, India made a brave comeback in the fourth quarter, in which Jose scored 13 points, outscoring Taiwan WUG all by herself. It still wouldn’t be enough as Taiwan WUG survived to win 71-64 in the end.

    Taiwan WUG were led by the duo of Xu Qianhui (17) and Zhen Huang (16). Geethu Anna Jose had a big game for India in a losing effort, scoring 34 points and grabbing 18 rebounds.

    In their second game, India faced hosts Taiwan, who had little problem brushing past India for a 45 point victory behind strong performances by Liu Jun (19 points) and Jiang Fengjun (16). Taiwan started strong, holding on to an eight-point advantage at the end of the first quarter, after which the game continued to slip away from India's hands. India trailed by 19 at the end of the half, and a confident Taiwan turned on their defensive screws to limit India to just 19 points in the second half.

    For India, Jose was once again the best player, leading her side with 17 points.

    After losing their first two games, India faced Korea Samsung on Tuesday. A weak first quarter, in which India only managed to score 9 points, didn't help in their bid to overturn their losing streak, and India found themselves trailing 32-24 at halftime.

    But it was an inspired third quarter, in which India outscored their opponents 24-9, that proved to be the difference in the game. Hot shooting Prashanti Singh (16 points) and Anitha (24) led the way for India, overturning the score to India's advantage. Korea's fourth quarter comeback ended short, and India survived for a four-point victory.

    The final game was against Japan: After India scored the first few baskets of the game, Japan took over the game completely, scoring quickly and with ease, and headed to a 31-16 first quarter lead, which was stretched to 57-26 by the end of the first half. Japan played good unselfish basketball, as five of their players scored in double digits.

    India's performance, like the previous game, improved in the second half of the game, and in the fourth quarter, India shot well from the three-point line to stay neck-to-neck with Japan. But the damage had already been done, and Japan headed towards a 98-62 win.

    Geethu Anna Jose led India with 16 points.

    Final Standings

  • 1. Taiwan 4-0
  • 2. Japan 3-1
  • 3. Taiwan WUG 2-2
  • 4. India 1-3
  • 5. Korea Samsung 0-4

    Of course, there is still a lot of work to be done by Gaudet's side: the side will immediately return to camp in Delhi, as they now have only a little more than two weeks before the big challenge: the 24th FIBA Asia Championship for Women at Omura & Nagasaki in Japan from August 21-28th. In addition to the 12 players who went for the William Jones Cup, stand-in players Asha Hegde and Sonika will also join them for the camp.

    India have been placed in a group with China, Korea, Japan, Chinese Taipei, and Lebanon in 'Level 1' of the FIBA Women's ABC.
  • August 4, 2011

    India U16s qualify for U16 FIBA Asia Championship

    93 points per game. That was the average margin of victory for India's U16 Boys basketball team, as they faced U16 teams from Nepal and Sri Lanka on August 2-3, at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in New Delhi. The purpose of this slaughter? The three teams were brought together to fight for a spot at the 2nd U16 FIBA Asia Championship, which will be held at Nha Trang City in Vietnam from October 18-28th. India's qualification was never in question, but the full destructive force by which the young stars went about their business was remarkable, indeed.

    Here is a complete dissection.

    India prepared the best possible team for this competition: The U16 probables had already been in camp in Delhi, preparing for the qualifiers and for the FIBA Asia event later this year, for one and a half months. What this side truly boasted of was experience: in players such as Chhattisgarh's Ajay Pratap Singh, Punjab's Kushmeet Singh and Love Neet Singh, MP's Syed Anam Ali, and Delhi's Narender, India had players who had been superstars in their own right of their age level. Added to this group were two players who are currently on scholarship at the IMG Academy in the USA: Chhattisgarh's guard Sanjeev Kumar, and the biggest name of them all, Punjab's 7-foot-1, 15-year-old giant, Satnam Singh Bhamara.

    So when this group, along with several others, took the court to play our hapless neighbours, the results were expectedly lopsided. India defeated Nepal by 98 points in the first game, running and gunning behind seven players who scored in double digits. Ajay Pratap Singh and Love Neet Singh led the scoring with 19 and 18 points respectively. One of the true eye-popping numbers in this game was the score at the end of three quarters: 100-20. The final score, no less impressive: 134-36.

    Leading the players from the sidelines were Delhi-based coaches JP Singh, J Nehra, and former Indian Women's superstar Divya Singh. I overheard something interesting from one of the probables that didn't make the squad about Coach Singh: "He said that 'When you're in my team, I have no feeders, no forwards, and no pivot players. You must be ready to play whatever position I ask you to play'." And true to this, most of the players, except for perhaps the bigs Satnam and Rakesh Sangwan, played as fluidly as they possibly could.

    In the final against Sri Lanka on Wednesday, India fielded a big starting lineup, where our small forward, Ajay, was perhaps as tall as our opponent's Center (6'4"). On PF was 6'6" Sangwan, and Satnam held on to the Center position.

    This was the kind of game that would have basketball scouts salivating on Satnam's potential. Let me make a note here that this was the first time really that I was watching Satnam play competitively against guys of his own age group. Despite the fact that he has represented Punjab at the U18 and India at the Senior level over the past month, he is still only a 15-year-old, and qualified to play for the U16 level, too. After a relatively easy first game (13 points, 3-4 blocks), Satnam EXPLODED against Sri Lanka. His teammates did a good job in getting him the ball, and he rewarded them with aggressive inside offense. Satnam was near-automatic against the hapless defenders once he got the ball inside. In roughly 26 minutes of action, he scored 28 points (barely missing any shots), brought down 8 rebounds, and got three highlight-reel blocks.

    The rest of the team, meanwhile, continued dominating like they did a day before. The smaller players like Narender, Kushmeet, and Love Neet were too fast for Sri Lanka, as they caused dozens of turnovers with their full-court press, and on the other end, scored with ease on tireless fast-breaks. India cruised to an 88 point victory in the final, 122-34.

    Entry into the U16 FIBA Asia Championship secure, this team now has a lot more time before October to continue improving. If they can keep this core together and motivated, they may well spring a surprise or two against Asia's powerhouses. And even if they don't yet, their play over these two games, albeit against weak competition, has proved that Indian basketball fans can rest assured: the future of the game is bright, indeed!

    Here are the scores from the two games:

  • India vs. Nepal: India (Ajay Pratap Singh 19, Love Neet Singh 18, Satnam Singh Bhamara 13, Akash Bhasin 11, Kushmeet Singh 10, S. Karthickeyan 10, Rakesh Sangwan 10) bt. Nepal 134-36 (33-9, 31-4, 36-7, 34-16).

  • India vs. Sri Lanka: India (Satnam Singh Bhamara 28, Kushmeet Singh 26, Love Neet Singh 12, Ajay Pratap Singh 11) bt. Sri Lanka (Kenneth W 12, Praveen Ganlath 10) 122-34 (35-11, 29-8, 35-11, 23-4).
  • August 1, 2011

    USA defeat Spain to defend FIBA U19 Women’s title

    The USA U19 Women’s team continued their dominance over women’s basketball, as they defeated Spain 69-46 in the final of the FIBA U19 Championship for Women at Puerto Montt in Chile on Sunday, July 31, 2011. This completed back-to-back U19 titles for the US team, who have also won one U17 and one senior woman’s championship in the past two years.

    It was an easy ride for USA in the final, who dominated Spain from the start behind great performances by Stefanie Dolson, Elizabeth Williams and Kaleena Lewis.

    Brazil outlasted Australia in a close duel 70-67 to claim the bronze medal.

    Brazil’s star forward Damiris Dantas, who averaged 20.9 points and 12.6 rebounds per game, was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship for Women in Puerto Montt, Chile.

    All Tournament Team

  • Damiris Dantas (Brazil)
  • Rui Machida (Japan)
  • Ariel Massengale (USA)
  • Breanna Stewart (USA)
  • Astou Ndour (Spain)