May 27, 2013

Sacramento's King: Vivek Ranadivé becomes NBA's first Indian-born majority owner

He was born in Juhu, Mumbai.

He has a bachelor's degree from Harvard and a master's from MIT.

He had 50 dollars in his pocket when he moved to the USA in the 70s, and worked his way to turning that into a billion dollar software company, TIBCO.

He is a Tae Kwon Do Black Belt, and a sports buff who used to coach his daughter's basketball team.

He has written three best-selling books.

He became the first Indian to own a share of an NBA franchise, when he was with the Golden State Warriors.

And about a week ago, Vivek Ranadivé became the first-ever Indian-born majority owner when a group led by him bought the Kings, saved them from a move to Seattle, and kept them in Sacramento.

For the 55-year-old who has already shook the world, it seems that the journey has only just begun.

Until about two months ago, the fate of the Sacramento Kings seemed to be all but decided. The franchise was suffering a terrible loss: the team was playing losing basketball on court had amongst the NBA's worst attendances. All this, after being only a decade removed from being one of the league's loudest and most imposing home courts in the successful Chris Webber era. A sale to the tech-inspired group from Seattle, led by Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer and Chris Hansen, seemed inevitable, and Sacramento's loss was reading like Seattle's gain, who were eager to welcome back the Supersonics.

Enter Ranadivé. A minority-owner with the Warriors, Ranadivé joined a team led by health-club financier Mark Mastrov and billionaire Ron Burkle to bid for the Kings and help keep them in Sacramento. Ranadivé emerged as the leader of this group, which by the end included the Jacobs family from San Diego, another Indian-born businessman Raj Bhathal, Australian Silicon Valley entrepreneur Katrina Garnett, Mastrov, Sacramento developer Mark Friedman, attorney and former Facebook executive Chris Kelly, San Francisco tech entrepreneur Andy Miller and Arjun Gupta, a third-Indian and founder of TeleSoft Partners, a venture capital firm.

It was a long-winded battle after that, between two cities and two basketball fan-bases. On April 29, the NBA's Relocation Committee unanimously recommended that the NBA Board of Governors deny the application of the Sacramento Kings to relocate to Seattle. In mid-may the Board of Governors voted down the Seattle relocation bid. And a few days later, the sale of the Kings from the Maloofs to Ranadivé's group was confirmed.

The deal set the team's overall value at $535 million. Ranadive's group would buy the 65 percent share of the Kings controlled by the Maloofs and Hernreich. Ranadivé will sell his minority share with the Warriors before purchasing the Kings. In celebration for this victory, Sacramento held the 'Long Live the Kings' rally last week, where they invited franchise legends, Mayor and former NBA player Kevin Johnson, as well as the man who had played a major part in saving the team: Vivek Ranadivé.

From his time with the Warriors and through the bidding process with the Kings, Ranadivé has maintained an ongoing philosophy of looking ahead, and using his background with technology as well as his international background to think globally, think digitally. He spoke various times of making the Kings into a 'global brand'.


The goal is to create something Ranadive has begun calling "NBA 3.0," which refers to making basketball as popular worldwide as soccer. Much of the focus would be on China, where the NBA is already quite popular, and India, where cricket is considerably more popular.
Basketball "is a sport that lends itself to that," Ranadive said of the globalization effort. "It can be played in cities, it can be played in villages. Rich countries, poor countries - you don't need a lot of space like you do with cricket or soccer."

Ranadivé has also spoken various times of how his Indian heritage has shaped him. He has said that he wants the Kings to have outreach programmes to connect with India and believes that basketball - as a simple enough sport - can be a huge hit in his country of origin.

Sacramento have celebrated their new Indian King for his timely intervention, and what he calls 'one hell of a comeback' in keeping their franchise in their city. And NBA fans in India are of course excited to see one of their own at the helm of an NBA franchise.

But at the end of the day, no matter how the faces in the back-office change or how great their new planned arena turns out to be, basketball games are won by the team on the floor. And the team on the floor that we concern ourselves with here is still the same old Sacramento Kings. The Kings have missed the playoffs for the past seven consecutive seasons and for most of that stretch have been amongst the worst teams in the Western Conference. They finished the most recent season at 28-54 and don't seem to have the pieces to make a push into the playoffs anytime soon in the future either.

About a month ago, I wrote in my column that, no matter how much 'India' hype that Ranadivé's ownership brings the Kings, India's basketball fanbase won't start truly caring about them until the Kings can create an exciting and winning product. There is no loyalty amongst fans that live thousands of miles away: most NBA fans in India will support whichever team that Kobe or LeBron play for, or whichever team to have been successful/exciting in recent years. The Kings, currently, offer none of the above, and although having an Indian owner will generate some interest initially, it won't buy Ranadivé a long-term fanbase in India.

The Kings are a young, rebuilding squad, and are blessed with a rare inside talent in DeMarcus Cousins to build a franchise around. So far, he has offered the team a mix dose of brilliance and bamboozlement. But the center is still only 22 years old, and can certainly be a valuable piece of a successful franchise for the future. If Cousins can settle down and become the team's anchor, they can worry about their other issues. The Kings have to improve on the defensive end, a change that will have to be passed down through their coach (it's unlikely that Keith Smart will survive too long) to his players. Cousins has to make his game more polished and consistent. The biggest improvement has to come from former Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans (a restricted free agent), who showed that he has the natural ability to be a game-changing guard, but has slowed down drastically since his rookie season. The positive development of other youngsters like Isaiah Thomas, Patrick Patterson, Jimmer Fredette, and Cole Aldrich will shape their future roster. And they have to be smart (and lucky!) to find a gem or two in the NBA draft – a feat much easier said than done! They have the seventh pick this year. Maybe it's not too early to start tanking for the Wiggins/Parker sweepstakes in 2014?

It will take a concentrated improvement on all levels, from personnel on and off the court and in the effort of those currently leading the charge of the squad, to bring the Kings closer to Ranadivé’s ‘global brand’ dream.

But here's a guy who has mastered pretty much everything that has caught his fancy, from ivy league schools to software businesses to martial arts to non-fiction writing. He's a good businessman, and like every good businessman, we expect he will understand what factors he needs to run a profitable business. And when the product is an NBA franchise, those factors are the right players and the right coaching and support staff.

I wish nothing but success to Ranadivé, and will join the unlikely unison of Sacramento and India in rooting for his success with the Kings. Hopefully, his efforts can not only revitalize a once-great team and fan-base, but also help popularize the game further in India. If he can succeed at doing that, then Ranadivé will truly become the Basketball's King to all the new NBA fans back in his homeland.

May 26, 2013

4th Jeppiaar Basketball Tournament begins in Chennai today

Home town squads Southern Railway and IOB will be out to defend their crown against some of India's top clubs at the 4th Annual Jeppiaar All India Invitational Basketball Tournament for Men and Women in Chennai. A respected club basketball tournament, the Jeppiaar tournament is organized by the JIT Institute of Technology Basketball Club and will be held from May 26-31 at the college grounds near Sriperumpudur.

Elite teams from across the country will vie for honours for AP Baulraj Trophy for Men and Marcella Rolling Trophy for Women, along with grand cash prizes. Ten Men's teams and five Women's teams will take part:

Men: IOB (Chennai), Indian Air Force, Indian Army, Indian Navy, Income Tax, Jeppiaar Institute of Technology, ONGC, Punjab Police, KSEB, Sathyabama University.

Women: Central Railway, Western Railway, Southern Railway, KSEB, Chhattisgarh.

May 25, 2013

India wins double silver at U18 FIBA Asia 3x3 Championship; Chinese Taipei & Philippines win gold

Even in our brightest dreams, we wouldn't have believed it, but India's performances at the 3x3 Asian Basketball Championship have truly earned them the respect and fear of the opponents. And on Friday, the performances earned them some medals. The first ever FIBA Asia 3x3 U18 Basketball Championship for Boys and Girls concluded in Bangkok (Thailand) on May 24th with both the boys' and girls' teams from India making the tournament's final. Both teams lost - as Philippines Boys and Chinese Taipei Girls won gold - but a double silver for India has left fans hopeful of a bright future ahead.

The achievement comes less than 10 days after India's Senior Women's team won the FIBA Asia 3x3 gold medal at Doha (Qatar). The performances of the under-18 squads may be equally encouraging, because unlike the senior competition, this tournament featured regular Asian powerhouses like China and Japan.

In the Girls' competition, India were undefeated until they were finally stopped in their tracks by Chinese Taipei, who won 21-13 in the Final. The Boys' final was a heart-stopping see-saw battle where India struck close before a few mental lapses at the very end saw Philippines emerge as 21-19 winners.

India's Girls were led by Poonam Chaturvedi, the 6-foot-7 giant 18 year old who truly seems to be catching up with her potential. Chaturvedi was by far the tallest girl in the tournament and dominated till the very end. Ishwari Pingle, Sharanjeet Kaur, and Vyshali Kemkar were also in the squad coached by Chattisgarh's Rajesh Patel. India's Girls went undefeated in the groups stage, defeating Qatar (21-4), Thailand 1 (20-15), and Lebanon (22-8). They made easy work of Indonesia (21-8) in the Quarter-Final and defeated hosts Thailand in a close Semi-Final (20-18) before qualifying for the final game. Chinese Taipei beat China 16-13 in the other Girls' semi-final.

The Boys' team had a core of young but experienced players Loveneet Singh, Narendar, Syed Anam Ali, and Gurvinder Singh Gill. The Boys lost their first group game in a 21-8 blowout to China, but they bounced back to win the next two versus Thailand 1 (18-14) and a dominant decimation of Maldives (21-1). They were paired against Lebanon in the Quarter-Final, but won their matchup with relative ease (21-7), and then proceeded to defeat higher-ranked Syria 13-11 in a defensive Semi-Final upset. In the second semi-final, Philippines defeated China 22-18.

The bronze medal games were won by China in both divisions, as they defeated Thailand and Syria in the girls' and boys' divisions respectively.

Final Standings


Gold: Philippines
Silver: India
Bronze: China


Gold: Chinese Taipei
Silver: India
Bronze: China

Fantastic news for India: It's rare to see the end of a FIBA Asia Championship and find India - in both divisions - playing in the Finals! The full version 5x5 FIBA Asia Championships are later this year too: it'll be crazy to dream that they can repeat their 3x3 performances, but at least India can enter the competition fearlessly and with much more confidence than ever before.

May 24, 2013

Season lost; Season gained

Without Derrick Rose and after suffering injuries to major stars in the playoffs, the Bulls still managed to to stretch out their season as long as they possible could. Few teams could lose 4-1 and still hold their heads up this high. It was a rare occurrence when the losing team somehow became the story of the series. But the Bulls had done just that, not just by getting results, but by fighting till the very end.

Here's how they turned a season lost into a season gained.

Click here to read full feature!

May 23, 2013

Dr. S. Subramanian – one of India’s greatest-ever basketball coaches – passes away

When we say that we "live for something", or that we "dedicate our life" towards something, what do we even mean? Do we mean that we aspire day and night to keep that something safe and make that something better? Does it mean we spend a year, 10 years, 20 years, or a whole lifetime guarding and obsessing over that thing? Does we mean that the something for us really is everything?

A lot of us claim that basketball is our something, the one thing that we obsess with day or night, our everything. But only a few truly give the game the dedication that it deserves.

Dr. Sankaran Subramanian - who spent 43 long years as a basketball coach in India, honing and shaping some of our country's best players and helping the game take great strides over the past four decades - is one of the few. Subramanian truly dedicated his life to basketball. Subramanian passed away at 75 years of age in Patiala (Punjab) on the early hours of May 22nd, 2013, but even in absence, his presence will continue to be felt in the legacy that he leaves behind.

Subrananian will go down in history as one of the greatest-ever basketball coaches in India. From 1968 onwards, he had been thoroughly involved in coaching and developing players in Punjab and for the Indian national team. Subramanian was the coach of the Punjab state team, the director and chief of the Ludhiana Basketball Academy (LBA) in Punjab and also the director of the National Institute of Sports in Patiala. He was the man behind half of India's Men's Basketball squad that represented the country in the last FIBA Asia Championship in Wuhan (China) in 2011. He was the man who first honed the skills of Satnam Singh Bhamara, India's 17-year-old 7-footed phenom who is garnering hype to become the future face of Indian basketball. Over the past years, he trained hordes of athletes (at the Senior as well as Junior level) who went on to represent India in FIBA Asia Championships, in Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, and even the Olympics.

Subramanian played basketball for his school and college teams and later joined Indian Air Force in the year 1958. He played in Air Force and Inter-Services Championships and also participated in the National Basketball Championships for three consecutive years from 1964-1967. He took to coaching after that in 1968, working with the Air Force team and with Services and leading them to wins in several national level tournaments. He also briefly coached the Mysore Girls team in the early 70s. He joined NIS in Patiala in 1973 from where he worked to hone several junior and senior players and host national coaching camps at NIS.

Subramanian had been the head coach of the Punjab State teams from 2000-2013, and led them to an era of great dominance in this period, collecting 14 Gold, 13 Silver and 9 Bronze Medals in Sub-Junior, Youth, Junior and Senior National Championships. Under his tutelage, Punjab's Senior Men's team won the National Championship in 2012 and finished as runners-up this year.

He was also a FIBA certified International Referee in basketball and had officiated in many international Tournaments/Championship in India and abroad.

The number of talented stars who had blossomed under his tutelage during this period is too vast to be mentioned here, but some of them include Arjuna Award winner Manmohan Singh, Paramjit Singh, who represented Indian in the 1980 Olympic Basketball team, and Tarlok Singh Sandhu. In India's most recent Men's squad, a record number of six players were developed under Subramanian in his Ludhiana Academy: TJ Sahi, Yadwinder Singh, Jagdeep Singh Bains, Amjyot Singh, Amrit Pal Singh, and of course, Satnam Singh Bhamara. He also trained women's international Kiranjit Kaur, who won gold for India in the 2012 Asian Beach Games.

Anyone who ever delved into the world of Indian hoops came out with a special appreciation for Subramanian's passion for the game and his dedication over four long decades to young players. He was known to be a very disciplined coach but one who also found ways to change this tactics and take risks to get the best out of his players. His ability to find and develop new talent in India is virtually unmatched.

Many have spoken of their appreciation of Subramanian since the news of his demise. India's current basketball head coach Scott Flemming wrote: "So glad I was able to spend time with him this past January in Ludhiana. I was so impressed not only with his coaching background but his passion for helping young athletes." NBA India's Senior Director of Basketball Operations Troy Justice wrote: "He was a father to many of us who knew him. He earned our love and respect through his hard work and passion. He was always there to teach, coach, lead, serve, or whatever it took to to enrich someone else's life. I will always carry the great memories we shared together. There is a special bond when you are together on a basketball court that can never be broken."

The true effect of a coach's brilliance can't be gleaned from the coach himself, but from the players he coaches. For every great player, you know that there is one even greater coach making them who they are. In that spirit, even in Subramanian's absence, we will remain blessed with his greatness going into the future. In players like Sahi, Yadwinder, and Jagdeep, who continue to be the foundation of India's basketball. In young bucks like Satnam, Amjyot, and Amrit Pal, who will carry Subramanian's spirit with them into the bold new future. And in those countless other young players that he has worked with, from superstar internationals to amateurs who found love in basketball.

Basketball in India doesn't bring in much fame, and it surely doesn't bring in that much money. Those who stick with it do it because of the true, uncorrupted love for the game. Subramaniam loved basketball till the very end; and in demise he coaches us all one more time, teaching us how to truly dedicate our lives to that something we love, to the very end.

May 22, 2013

Cavaliers continue their Draft Lottery luck by winning 2013 top pick

For the second time in three years, the Cavaliers won the number one pick in the 2013 draft at the Draft Lottery in New York on May 21st. The Cavs had finished with the NBA’s third-worst record last season. The team with the worst record – Orlando Magic – won the second pick. The biggest jump was for the Washington Wizards, who moved from eighth place to win the third pick in the draft.

Here are the complete results of the 2013 Draft Lottery and my analysis.

Click here for full feature.

May 21, 2013

India to fight for 1st FIBA Asia U18 3x3 Championship in Thailand

Things are looking quite rosy for Indian Basketball at the international stage, at least as far as the new, shorter version of the game is concerned.

For a country that has long struggled to make a mark amongst Asia’s top basketball contenders, India has found a new vehicle in the 3x3, halfcourt format of the game, and have rocketed up to the top of the charts. India’s Women’s squad won the gold medal last week in the inaugural FIBA Asia 3x3 Basketball Championship in Doha, following their gold medal performances in the Asian and South Asian Beach games over the past few years. The men’s squad were ousted in the Quarter-Finals, but the experience showed that India is more than ready to embrace basketball’s ‘mini’ format.

Now, it’s the turn of India’s junior stars to show that the future of the game is as secure as the present.

India’s U18 boys’ and girls’ teams will participated in the first-ever FIBA Asia U18 3x3 Basketball Championship, set to be held in Bangkok (Thailand) from May 22-24, 2013. With many more of the top Asian nations taking part in this tournament, India’s journey to a podium finish will be much harder, but the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) has selected experienced young players into the rosters to push for some silverware.

Here are India’s Rosters for the 1st FIBA Asia U18 3x3 Basketball Championships:

Boys: Loveneet Singh, Narender, Syed Anam Ali, Gurvinder Singh Gill.

Girls: Ishwari Pingle, Vyshali Kemkar, Poonam Chaturvedi, Sharanjeet Kaur.

There is definitely a lot of experience – even at a young age – amongst several of those names there, notably Loveneet, Narender, Syed Anam Ali, Ishwari Pingle, and Sharanjeet Kaur. The big story of the tournament could potentially be Poonam Chaturvedi, who at 18 is already 6 foot 7 inches tall and has been honing her raw talents slowly back home over the past two years.

The draw for the championship was held in Malaysia last month: 19 boys’ and 17 girls’ teams will be taking part in the competition, and have been drawn into four groups each. India’s Boys have been placed in Group A along with China, Maldives, and Thailand 1. India’s Girls are in Group A, along with Qatar, Lebanon, and Thailand 1. Hosts Thailand have two teams in each gender in the competition.

Both boys and girls will play in a Preliminary Round on May 22-23, and the knockout stage starting from the Quarter-Finals for both will be held on May 24.

Here is the Schedule for India’s group stage games on May 22-23 (all timings Bangkok):


- May 22 – 3:30 PM: India vs. China
- May 22 – 4:30 PM: Thailand 1 vs. India
- May 23 – 2:30 PM: India vs. Maldives


- May 22 – 2:00 PM: India vs. Qatar
- May 22 – 4:00 PM: Thailand 1 vs. India
- May 23 – 2:30 PM: India vs. Lebanon

India’s boys’ squad has a mega test in their very first contest, against Asian powerhouse China. China are the favourites for the tournament, but if India can at least give them a good fight, they will have some confidence in their next group games against Maldives and Thailand. Philippines, Japan, Chinese Taipei, and Lebanon are other teams to watch out for in the tournament.

The girls’ may draw even against any of the teams in their group, particularly Lebanon and Thailand. The favourites of the tournament for girls – China and Chinese Taipei – are in Groups D and C respectively.

With China in contention, it is always difficult to bet on any other squad in an Asian basketball tournament. But India has been displayed respectful showings in recent years in the 3x3 version of the game and our Senior Women even defeated China in the Asian Beach Games final last year. Nevertheless, it will be a rare basketball occasion where India can feel that they are not just mere minnows but above average contenders. Let’s hope that the juniors can live up to the high bar set by the senior players.

May 19, 2013

Together we go farther: An NBA Conference Finals Preview

A long, grueling NBA playoff run can be sort of like a journey through an unforgiving desert sometimes. Those who dream of the desert oasis at the end of the horizon – the NBA championship – must battle through all kinds of trials and tribulations. They must suffer past injury, fatigue, hostile road environments, and the stacks raised against them. An exceptional individual could certainly help a team achieve great things, win a big game, or hit a big shot; but it is the effort of the team as a whole that carries the group through four best-of-seven-series, through long road journeys, through defensive adjustments, and with the effort of every member of the troop stepping up whenever their number is called.

So far in the playoffs, teams have succeeded over star individuals. My predictions for what is set to happen next.

Click here to read full feature

May 17, 2013

India's Women are FIBA Asia 3x3 Basketball Champions; Men out in QFs

Maybe a change in the format of the game was all that Indian basketball needed for their big boost.

India hasn't had any memorable success in international basketball for long stretches of its history. But ever since FIBA has begun to promote the newer, 3x3 format of the game, India has gone all in, addint their best players in the 3x3 rosters and seeing some dominant results, particularly in the Women's division.

And now, India's Women are officially on top of the Asian 3x3 Basketball ladder. India won gold at the inaugural FIBA Asia 3x3 Basketball Championship in Doha (Qatar), defeating Mongolia 21-14 in the final game on May 16th. This win marked India's third consecutive gold medal in the 3x3 format of the game, after winning gold at the South Asian Beach Games in Sri Lanka and at the Asian Beach Games in China last year.

India - featuring the likes of Geethu Anna Jose, Anitha Paul Durai, Manisha Dange, and Pratima Singh - came in as one of the favourites of the tournament, and justified the hype by winning all six of their games with relative ease en route to the championship. Jose, India's biggest basketball superstar, was named the 'Best Player' of the tournament!

Post the win, Jose said that the India squad "achieved what we set out to do," and Anitha Pauldurai added that "it was a team effort that helped India’s win."

India's Men's team won two of their three group stage games but lost in the Quarter Final to eventual silver-medalists Saudi Arabia.

Qatar, the home team who featured two teams in each division of the championship, saw their 'Maroon' side win the gold in the Men's division, beating Saudi Arabia in the final. They were undefeated in the tournament.

The two-day tournament tipped off in Doha on May 15th, featuring 16 Men's teams and 10 Women's teams. Notably missing from the participants were teams from Asian powerhouses like China, Korea, Japan, and Chinese Taipei in contention for the Women. China, Asia's strongest basketball-playing nation, didn't take part in either division.

India's Women, in Group B of the Women's division, kicked off their campaign on Wednesday with an easy 20-6 win against Lebanon. They continued this form with wins over Mongolia (21-9), and Nepal (21-4). Their game against Qatar (grey) was cancelled. On Thursday, India faced off against Qatar in the Quarter Final, and completely dominated the hosts to cruise to a 21-5 victory. India defeated Hong Kong 21-8 in the Semi-Final, and their closest contest didn't come until the finale itself when they defeated Mongolia 21-14. In a format of the game that lasts only 10 minutes of playing time, India did marvelously to defeat each opponent by an average of 11.3 points per game.

The Men's field was much tougher, and the relatively-younger four-man squad representing India - Ajay Pratap Singh, Ranbir Singh Virdi, Arjun Singh, and Pratham Singh - had a good run despite getting knocked out at the Quarter-Final stage to Saudi Arabia, who defeated them 16-5 on Thursday evening. India went 2-1 in the Group Stage a day earlier, defeating Indonesia (21-13) and and Turkmenistan (19-17), but losing to heavyweights Iran 21-14. The Final of the Men's tournament was held between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and won by the home side in a thrilling 19-17 contest.

Iran (Men) beat Jordan 19-8 to finish third place, and in the Women's division, the third-place game was decided in a low scoring game woman that went in favour of Turkmenistan over Hong Kong 10-8.

Final Standings


Gold: Qatar (Maroon)
Silver: Saudi Arabia
Bronze: Iran


Gold: India
Silver: Mongolia
Bronze: Turkmenistan

Dream Team All Star Selection


Boney Watson (Qatar)
Fadel El Zubi (Jordan)
Moosa Nabipour (Iran)


Geethu Anna Jose (India)
Nigyara Nagiyeva (Turkmenistan)
Lea Abi Ghosn (Lebanon)

Congrats Ladies, and congrats Geethu, who continues to be the Boss of Indian hoops - and one of the most-feared competitors in Asian hoops. We hope that the Men can begin to duplicate the success in the coming years too. India's Women can look ahead to now taking part in the 3x3 FIBA World Championships. But the most important step ahead should be to start focusing this new-found confidence and success on the official 5x5 version of basketball so India can start making some more waves in Asian and in the rest of the world, too!

May 15, 2013

Team India (Men & Women) contend at 1st FIBA Asia 3x3 Basketball Championship in Qatar

We know who the best basketball teams in Asia are. And now, for the first time, Asia’s top sides will contend amongst each other in an official FIBA tournament to reveal who will emerge as the strongest country in the game’s strongest side in the 3x3 basketball format. Worldwide, there has been increased attention on 3x3 hoops – from international tournament to inner-city competitions – and we’ll see the format competed at the top Asian level on May 15-16 at the 1st FIBA Asia 3x3 Basketball Championship for Men and Women in Doha (Qatar). Both of India’s Senior Men and Women’s teams have qualified for the tournament.

On April 24 in Kuala Lampur (Malaysia), FIBA Asia held the draw for the inaugural edition of the 2013 events, which included the 3x3 Championships in Doha and the U18 3x3 Championships that will be held next week in Bangkok (Thailand). For the Doha 3x3 Championship, India’s Men have been drawn in Group B along with Indonesia, Turkmenistan, and Iran, while the Women have been drawn in Group B with Qatar Grey, Mongolia, Lebanon, and Nepal.

A total of 16 men’s teams (from 15 nations) and 10 women’s teams (from nine nations) will be taking part in the inaugural tournament. Hosts Qatar will be fielding two teams for each division.

Despite being minnows in many recent FIBA Asia Basketball tournaments, India has actually enjoyed quite a successful recent history in 3x3 competitions at Asia level. India's Men and Women both dominated the South Asian Beach Games in Sri Lanka two years ago where they both won gold medals; and more importantly, India's Women's team won gold at the 3rd Asian Beach Games in China against the hosts last year.

Here are India’s Rosters for this tournament. Each team has four players; three starters and one off the bench.

India Men: Ajay Pratap Singh, Ranbir Singh Virdi, Arjun Singh, Pratham Singh.

India Women: Geethu Anna Jose, Anitha Paul Durai, Manisha Dange, Pratima Singh.

The group stage of the tournament will be held on Wednesday, May 15, and the knockout stages will be held on May 16th. Here the Schedule for India’s group stage games on May 15 (all timings Doha):


- 4 PM: India vs. Indonesia
- 6 PM: Iran vs. India
- 7:20 PM: India vs. Turkmenistan


- 4 PM: Lebanon vs. India
- 6:40 PM: India vs. Qatar Grey
- 7:20 PM: Mongolia vs. India
- 8 PM: India vs. Nepal

The first thing to note from the list of participating teams in either division is that Asian basketball heavyweights China aren't taking part in the competition, and neither are Korea and Japan Women. Nevertheless, there will still be some big challenges for India to survive if they hope to make history at this first-time tournament. The Men's team - which consists of younger, more inexperienced players rather than India's Senior level veterans - will face a major powerhouse in Iran in the group stage, and will have to look out for other challenging sides like Lebanon, Jordan, Japan, Qatar, Chinese Taipei, and Philippines ahead.

India's Women's side could have a real chance at a podium finish. Without the big four of China, Korea, Japan and Chinese Taipei in contention, India could be considered as one of the early tournament favourites. With experienced superstars Geethu Anna Jose, Anitha Paul Durai, Manisha Dange, and Pratima Singh leading the way, this team will be aiming for gold.

May 14, 2013

37th Kerala State Junior (U18) Basketball Championship to tip off at Kurivilangad today

The 37th Kerala State Basketball Championship for Junior Men and Women (under 18) will tips off today at the St Mary’s Boys High School at Kuravilangad. The championship will be held from May 14-19 and organized by the Kuravilngad Basketball Club under the auspicious of Kottayam District Basketball Association.

14 Boys' teams and 12 Girls' teams will be taking part in this six-day championship, which will be played on a league-cum-knockout basis. The Championship will help to pick Kerala's representative teams for the National Junior Basketball Championship, which will be held in Bhubaneswar (Orissa) in September.

Kottayam (Boys) and Kollam (Girls) are the tournament's defending champions.



Group A: Kottayam, KozhikodeThrissur, Kasargod

Group B: Ernakulam, Alapuzha, Pathanamthitta, Thiruvanathapuram

Group C: Wayanad, Idukki, Kollam

Group D: Kannur, Malapuram, Palakkad


Group A: Kollam, Alapuzha, Palakkad

Group B: Kannur, Thiruvanthapuram, Wayanad

Group C: Thrissur, Ernakulum, Kasargod

Group D: Kottayam, Kozhikode, Malapuram

May 13, 2013

Olympiacos win Euroleague Basketball Championship for 2nd Consecutive year

For the second consecutive season, Greek club Olympiacos beat the odds and reached the pinnacle of European club basketball as they retained their Euroleague Basketball title after defeating Real Madrid at the O2 Arena in London 100-88 in the Final. This was Olympiacos’ third Euroleague title in their history and the third consecutive year that the championship was lifted by a Greek after, after Panathinaikos won in 2011.

Click here to read full feature

May 9, 2013

Indian-Origin players to have played NCAA D1 Basketball

No Indian national has yet had the experience of playing basketball at the highest collegiate level in the world, the NCAA Division 1 in the United States. But that said, there is no shortage of our larger Indian diaspora - specifically Indians who grew up in North America - who have represented at that level in some shape or form. The world paid attention as Canadian-Indian Sim Bhullar had his breakthrough playing in the national-tournament for New Mexico State and went on to become the first Indian-descent player in the NBA. It's time we compile a list of all others before Bhullar who have played a little (or a lot) D1 ball in the past, or our still playing at that level in the present.

This post grew out of popular demand, demand to showcase that players with desi genes certainly have the potential to take the next higher step in hoops. I've been able to collect the names of the list through past research and experience and the aid of some very helpful readers. I thank Rahul Desai for the idea and for getting me started and Sunpreet Sher Singh for suggesting more names to add to the list.

I'm looking to add the names of all Indian-origin D1 basketball players to the list. Being slightly tanned, enjoying the occasional Tandoori Chicken, and having a man-crush on Aziz Ansari doesn't count; You gotta have some desi in your DNA. First generation, second generation, third generation, born in India or abroad, full India, half Indian, one-fourth Indian, whatever. Hopefully, a talented player from India will one day get the opportunity to represent the country at this highest college level, too.

The list isn't perfect and it definitely isn't complete. Please contact me to notify me of any errors and suggest any further names that I'm sure to have missed.

Indian-origin players to have played NCAA Division 1 Basketball (In last-name Alphabetic order)
  • Pasha Bains (Clemson, Wyoming): 1998-2001
  • David Bagga (Arizona): 2005-09
  • Vishal Banipal (Idaho State): 2011-12
  • Sim Bhullar (New Mexico State): 2012-14)
  • Tanveer Bhullar (New Mexico State) 2013-
  • James Blackmon Jr. (Indiana): 2014-
  • Anikar Chhabra (Harvard): 1991-95
  • Manroop Clair (Hawaii, Seattle): 2012-
  • Sandeep Dhaliwal (Columbia): 2009-10
  • Samer Dhillon (USC): 2013-
  • Shaminder Gill (Washington State University): 2001-05
  • Tony Gill (Pacific): 2012-
  • Robin James (Rutgers): 1991-95
  • Venkatesha Jois (Eastern Washington University): 2012-
  • Sanjay Lumpkin (Northwestern): 2012-
  • Arjun Ohri (New Jersey Institute of Technology - NJIT): 2009-12
  • Timir Patel (Houston-Baptist): 2007-08
  • Varun Ram (Maryland): 2012-
  • Andy Saharan (University of California-Riverside): 2010-11
  • Manny Sahota (Cornell): 2010-
  • Sam Singh (Bradley University): 2004-10
  • Dipanjot Singh (Univeristy of Illinois at Chicago): 2009-11
  • Veer Singh (Seton Hall): 2015-
  • Sai Tummala (Arizona State, Hawaii): 2013-
To learn more about some of these players, check out my in-depth feature and interview with Pasha Bains, considered by many to be the greatest Indian-origin player ever. Youngster Manroop Clair is also mentioned in that story. I've written a lot about Sim Bhullar and his brother Tanveer; here is my most recent feature recapping Sim's first season at New Mexico State. Here is an old Q-and-A with Timir Patel, and this is an even older post and video of Manny Sahota. I also spoke to Maryland's Varun Ram for this blog last year. 

May 8, 2013

Delhi (Boys) & Kerala (Girls) win 2013 Youth National Basketball Championship in Kolkata

Kerala Girls continue their stronghold on the Youth (under-16) division of basketball in India, winning their fourth consecutive Youth National title in Kolkata on Tuesday evening after a blowout Final victory over Tamil Nadu. Kerala’s victory was followed by a heart-stopping finale for the boys’, as Delhi survived a furious comeback from Rajasthan to win the title.

The 30th Youth (U16) National Basketball Championships for Boys and Girls saw 25 boys’ and 24 girls’ teams from all across India descend to Kolkata (West Bengal) for the scintillating eight-day tournament, which concluded on May 7th. The tournament was organized by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) and the West Bengal Basketball Association (WBBA).

It was another night of celebration for Kerala’s Girls’ squad, who are seemingly unbeatable at this level of the game in India. They won all seven games in this tournament behind consistent play by Nimmy Mathew, Mayukha KJ, and the rest. In the final, Kerala came storming out the gate in the first quarter against neighbours Tamil Nadu and kept building on that advantage to post a mammoth win of 83-47. Mayukha led the balanced Kerala scoring attack with 17 points in the Final. V Rachel had 17 points for TN.

The boys’ final upped the ante as the two finalists – Delhi and Rajasthan – fought each other till the very end. The game was tied at the end of the first quarter and Delhi held a slim three-point lead at halftime. A strong defensive third quarter saw Delhi extend that lead to nine, but Rajasthan came storming back in the fourth to outscore Delhi 23-16. In the end, the boys from the nation’s capital survived to win their second title in three years, 79-77. Sunil (27) and Bitto (23) led the way for Delhi, surviving a dominant performance by Rajasthan’s Mahipal Singh (30 – the leading scorer in the tournament – and Yogesh Kaneriya (16).

The third and fourth place matchups were also held on Tuesday. In the Boys’ game, Rahul Mehla (26), Prabhnoor Singh (19) and Jaipal (17) led the way in a blowout win over Haryana, who were led by Sonu Kumar (16). In the Girls’ game, Riya Verma (28) and Divya P (26) were the stars for Chhattisgarh who defeated Karnataka 82-73, despite the best efforts of rising young star Lopamudra TK (34) and Bhandavya HM (28).

The Semi-Finals of the tournament were held on Monday evening. In the Boys’ game, Sunil had 27 points for Delhi’s high-scoring 86-74 win against Haryana. Arjun Pandit (16) and Shon Suresh Kalangutkar (16) added to Delhi’s score, while Naveen Sheokand had 22 for Haryana. In the second’s Men’s Semi-Final, Rajasthan were led by their unstoppable duo of Mahipal Singh (33) and Akhilesh Kumar (30) as they defeated Punjab 92-82. Prabhnoor Singh (21) and Rahul Mehta (21) led the way for the losing side.

Kerala played in a high-scoring Semi-Final against Karnataka, winning 81-70. They fell back in the first quarter but bounced back with a strong 25-7 run in the second. Mayukha KT had 29 points, Vimmy Varkey had 17, and India Nelson had 16. Bhandavya HM scored 26 for the losing side. Y. Srividhya had 23 points to lead Tamil Nadu in the 68-51 win in the second semi-final over Chhattisgarh. Riya Verma led Chhattisgarh with 18.

Final Scores

Boys: Delhi (Sunil 27, Bitto 23, Vishal Gupta 14) bt. Rajasthan (Mahipal Singh 30, Yogesh Kaneriya 16, Akhilesh Kumar 15) 79-77 (18-18, 26-23, 19-13, 16-23).

Girls: Kerala (Mayukha KJ 17, Nimmy Matthew 15, Aneeta PV 15, India Nelson 15, Vimmy Varkey 13) bt. Tamil Nadu (V. Rachel 17) 83-47 (26-17, 20-16, 20-7, 17-7).

Third/Fourth Place Matchups

Boys: Punjab (Rahul Mehla 26, Prabhnoor Singh 19, Jaipal 17) bt. Haryana (Sonu Kumar 16) 93-47 (21-5, 26-8, 24-18, 22-16).

Girls: Chhattisgarh (Riya Verma 28, Divya P 26, Vandana Ariya 14) bt. Karnataka (Lopamudra TK 34, Bhandavya HM 28) 82-73 (24-19, 20-15, 21-19, 17-20).

Final Standings


1. Delhi
2. Rajasthan
3. Punjab
4. Haryana
5. Maharashtra


1. Kerala
2. Tamil Nadu
3. Chhattisgarh
4. Karnataka
5. Maharashtra

May 7, 2013

The Reluctant MVP

LeBron James won his fourth MVP award in five years, putting his name amongst the list of some of the game's greatest ever players. At the rate he is going, he is certainly on course to becoming the most decorated MVP in NBA history, but the superstar may be aiming for the bigger prize, to win more championships. MVP awards can be subjective to the definition of 'valuable' to the beholder, but a champion is always the most valuable to them all.

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May 6, 2013

India's teams drawn in FIBA Asia 3x3 basketball tournaments in Doha and Bangkok

Years from now, 2013 will be remembered as a year of ‘firsts’ for 3x3 basketball, particularly in Asia, and specifically for our interest, in India. This was that the year when, for the first time, Indian states held their own 3x3 championships across the country. This was also the first year when India held national-level 3x3 basketball tournaments for Seniors (in Delhi) and for U18s (in Ludhiana).

And now, the inaugural FIBA Asia 3x3 basketball championships – featuring the best 3x3 basketball players from across the continent – will be held in both the Senior and U18 levels for Men and Women over the next month. The 1st FIBA Asia 3x3 Basketball Championship for Men & Women will be held in Doha (Qatar) from May 15-16. The 1st FIBA Asia 3x3 Basketball Championship for U18 Boys and Girls will be held in Bangkok (Thailand) from May 22-24.

India is participating in all divisions in both competitions.

On April 24 in Kuala Lampur (Malaysia), FIBA Asia held the draw for the inaugural edition of the 2013 events. Here are the results of the draw, via FIBA Asia 3x3:

1st FIBA Asia Championship for Men - May 15-16 (16 teams)
  • Group A: Mongolia, Qatar (Maroon), Philippines, Sri Lanka.
  • Group B: India, Indonesia, Turkmenistan, Iran.
  • Group C: Chinese Taipei, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Lebanon.
  • Group D: Japan, Qatar (Grey), Jordan, Hong Kong.
1st FIBA Asia Championship for Women - May 15-16 (10 teams)
  • Group A: Qatar (Maroon), Indonesia, Turkmenistan, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong.
  • Group B: Qatar Grey, India, Mongolia, Lebanon, Nepal.
1st FIBA Asia Championship for U18 Boys - May 22-24 (22 teams)
  • Group A: Jordan, Mongolia, India, China, Maldives
  • Group B: Turkmenistan, Indonesia, Qatar, Syria, Philippines, Chinese Taipei.
  • Group C: Hong Kong, Malaysia, Vietnam, Japan, Kazakhstan, Thailand 2.
  • Group D: Thailand 1, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, Nepal, Macau.
1st FIBA Asia Championship for U18 Girls - May 22-24 (19 teams)
  • Group A: Turkmenistan, India, Jordan, Lebanon, Mongolia.
  • Group B: Philippines, Syria, Malaysia, Nepal, Sri Lanka.
  • Group C: Thailand 1, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Vietnam.
  • Group D: Macau, China, Indonesia, Maldives, Thailand 2.
Despite being minnows in many recent FIBA Asia Basketball tournaments, India has actually enjoyed quite a successful recent history in 3x3 competitions at Asia level. India's Men and Women both dominated the South Asian Beach Games in Sri Lanka two years ago, and more importantly, India's Women's team won gold at the 3rd Asian Beach Games in China against the hosts last year. India's finest Women's player Geethu Anna Jose spoke to FIBA in an interview recently and said that the Women's team goes in with a do-or-die attitude in this tournament. We hope the Men's teams - and the U18s - follow suit too.

Success (or at least respectful showings) in these tournaments will be a good stepping stone. But I hope our teams and federation doesn't forget the bigger, more important picture, which will be to improve the level of India's competitiveness across the board in the original 5x5 version of the game.

May 5, 2013

Survivor Series: NBA Playoffs 2nd Round Preview

With matchups getting closer and the repercussions for every decision bearing bigger fruits, the Second Round of the playoffs turns into a Survivor Series. Although nothing is guaranteed, we can assume that it will be LeBron James and the Heat waiting at the end. But who will advance all the way to challenge them?

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