November 22, 2013

India's 12-member squad heads to Sri Lanka for 3rd FIBA Asia U16 Championship for Women

India's Senior Women's squad took one of the biggest steps in history last month as they won their first ever game in Level 1 of FIBA's top Asian basketball competition and finished at a best-ever 5th place. But to continue this positive momentum, India will now need to ensure that the future stars are ready and prepared to take on the challenge. Now, their opportunity is here: the national under-16 women's squad has headed to Colombo, Sri Lanka, to take part in the 3rd FIBA Asia U16 Championship for Women. The tournament is slated to be held from November 23-30, 2013.

After finishing 5th at the previous edition of the championship in Jinan (China) in 2011, India's girls will return to Level 1 of the competition, where they will face off against only the other top teams: reigning champions Japan, China, Korea, Chinese Taipei, and Malaysia. Head Coach TD Biju will be leading India's 12-member roster.

The team recently concluded their last training camp at the CBA Basketball School in Dongguan, China, in preparation for the U16 Women's ABC.

India's U16 Women's Team
  • Vimmy Varkey
  • Shinu George
  • Bhandavya HM
  • Vandana Arya
  • Gagandeep Kaur
  • Sakshi Pandey
  • Riya Verma
  • Mughda Amraotkar
  • Srividhya Venkatraman
  • Aneeta Varghese
  • Mayukha KT
  • Lopamudra TK
  • Head Coach: TD Biju
  • Coach: Abhay Chavan
Participating Teams
  • Level 1: China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Chinese Taipei.
  • Level 2: Hong Kong, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka, Thailand.
India's Preliminary Round Schedule - All times IST
  • November 23 - 1300 - Japan vs. India.
  • November 24 - 1500 - China vs. India.
  • November 25 - 1700 - India vs. Malaysia.
  • November 26 - 1700 - Chinese Taipei vs. India.
  • November 27 - 1500 - India vs. Korea.

As it is in any such tournament where India is grouped against Asian Women's Big Four (Japan, China, Chinese Taipei, Korea), India's best hope for a win is going be against their fifth opponent, which in this case, is Malaysia. India is ranked fifth in Asia now in the U16 Women's category behind the big four, and they will have to fight hard to defend their spot. A win against Malaysia is a must. But can India dream bigger and try to get an upset over one of the big four sides? If so, they could be able to secure an unprecedented spot in the tournament's semi-finals.

November 21, 2013

Q&A: India's Women's Head Coach Francisco Garcia - "It's always a special feeling when you make history in a country."

With little prior experience or knowledge of the country, Spanish Coach Francisco Garcia was invited to India five months ago to take the hot seat as the Head Coach of India's Women's Senior National side. He didn't have too much time to get acclimitized before the team had to prepare for it's biggest challenge in two years: the 25th FIBA Asia Women's Championship, scheduled in Bangkok from from October 27-November 3. Garcia and his team survived backroom selection drama, a crucial injury, and an aging superstar to head out to Thailand and take on the best teams in Asia.

India were returning to Level I of the competition, which meant that they would have the esteemed privilege of only playing the continent's superpowers in the Preliminary Round - the 'Big Four' of China, Chinese Taipei, Japan, and Korea, with Kazakhstan rounding up the group. India had never won a game in Level I. India lost to the Big Four by large margins, but it was against Kazakhstan where Garcia led the girls to make history. They defeated Kazakhstan in an overtime thriller to win their first ever Level I game, and then defeated Malaysia in a Level I playoff game to finish at a best-ever fifth place finish.

I caught up with Coach Garcia recently for a candid interview as he reflected on the achievement of his team, shares some of his experiences in India, and looks forward to the future.

Hoopistani: Congrats on the historic 5th place finish in Bangkok. Honestly - was the team surprised at their achievement?

Garcia: Thanks, but as I always say, the coaches are here to help the team and not to act as the heroes. We must try not to disturb the team on and off the court. The real stars of the movie are the players. At the end they worked hard on court and they deserved this performance. I wouldn't say I was surprised, but yes, I was very pleased for the achievement. They know very well all the problems we faced and the short time we had to prepare for this championship. So in that sense, it is a really happy moment.

Hoopistani: How did you celebrate?

Garcia: I'm not a man of big celebrations. I know for India that this is an important achievement. So just knowing that was celebration enough.

Being in Level I, you played only the best teams in Asia. Which team was the toughest challenge?

Garcia: In my view I would say Japan [who were the eventual champions] were the best team. They played very dynamic basketball and had good balance on their side.

Hoopistani: After all the practice and preparation for this tournament, once you got to Thailand, did you have to make any drastic or unexpected change in your tactics?

Garcia: We had the injury of Akanksha Singh one week before the championship, so we had to re-adjust some things in the team. The most important thing was that the roles in the team were well defined and especially, that these roles were accepted by the players.

Hoopistani: Unlike previous years - where India relied mostly on Geethu Anna Jose - this year's team used a slightly more balanced offense (even though Geethu was still the highest scorer). Was this always the plan?

Garcia: I believe that in basketball teams must have balance in the inside and outside game. You are not gonna win by only shooting 3 pointers and neither will you do it playing just close to the basket. The game has moments where your advantage can be inside or outside, and we must be able to read that advantage.

Hoopistani: Which player surprised you most with her performance in Bangkok?

Garcia: I think the key was that we worked as a team, so each player had her moment in the games. All of them were important. Some in defense, some in shooting, and some in rebounding... It was a successful mix.

Hoopistani: How were you able to make sure that the girls don't let their head down after losing the first 4 games by a large margin.

Garcia: This group is mentally tough. We had some big losses in the important games, but they knew to come back strong in the next one. It was very important that they had in mind that our championship really started against Kazakhstan, and other games were there to prepare us for those two last matches.

Hoopistani: The game against Kazakhstan was a classic. You took a big lead, Kazakhstan came back, and the game went to overtime, where India took charge again. What was your favourite memory from that game?

Garcia: Without doubt it was seeing the girls' happiness at the end as they hugged each other on the court. At the end it is their achievement and they fought for it with their hustle and winner's mentality, especially after all the problems we faced in the game.

Hoopistani: How did it feel when the game ended and you had finally led India to their 1st ever Preliminary Round victory?

Garcia: It's always a special feeling when you make history in a country. So we felt really proud for some time. We could not forget that the championship was not over and the game against Malaysia was looming. If we lost that game then nothing we did against Kazakhstan would've counted

Hoopistani: Looking ahead, who do you think will replace the hole in the middle if and when Geethu finally moves on from the national team?

Garcia: Looking at the future, I think this country must put the focus on working hard continously with the younger kids, because they are future. People are needed here [in India] who work for basketball and leave aside their power hunger and their egos. When you work for your country and the national team, you must put your ego towards the country and the team's service. Not the opposite. Better investment in players is needed. India are number 5 in Asia, and believe me, many countries would love to be in that position, especially the ones with professional leagues. A professional league is urgently needed in India, plus they need to have exposure trips for players to get some more experience. The biggest mistake now after this achievement would be to be content and not to put in the right tools to keep growing.

Hoopistani: How has your experience been so far, working in India

Garcia: It's been pretty interesting. We've had no problems on the court. The girls have been open to all the things I have been explaining. But there were some selection problems in trying to construct the team. I just think that we should have more unity in the selection process.

Hoopistani: How long will you be in India?

Garcia: I have contract until June 2015, but after June 2014 I can re-negotiate. Right now, we're trying to build a good programme here. If things go the right way, I have no problem staying here longer. For now, I am here, and we need to make some progress in basketball.

Hoopistani: Do you think India can break into Asia's big four - China, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Korea? If so, how can they do it?

Garcia: In these countries basketball is the first or the second sport, so it is not easy to get close to them. Professional leagues, proper training, better facilities... If you want to get closer to the big four, you must build a reasonable working line from the grassroots with the goal of preparing players for the senior team. Obviously, many things must change. In general, unfortunately, basketball on court is secondary in India. In my stay here I have been quite disappointed with some mentalities at the human and professional level. So if you want to grow you first need the unity to work properly and clear the mind to focus on basketball.

Hoopistani: Off the court, have you had any interesting experiences in India so far?

Garcia: Well for me, on the first day I was here, I saw people eating food with their hands, and I was a little shocked! Now, after five months, I find myself doing it too, and I'm getting used to it.

Hoopistani: So what Indian food do you like?

Garcia: I really like to eat biryani, Chicken Tikka Masala, and Gulab Jamun. And whenever I need the urge to eat food from my home country, I have found a Spanish restaurant in New Delhi which I have tried a few times.

November 20, 2013

140 PE teachers attend NBA's Train the Trainers Programme in Kerala

A little over a month ago, the NBA and Reliance Foundation announced a multiyear partnership to launch a comprehensive school-based youth basketball strategy for India: the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA programme. As part of this programme, a three-day workshop was held at the Rajagiri School in Kalamassery, Kerala, which was attended by 140 Physical Education teachers from around the state.

The PE Teachers were trained by Troy Justice, Senior Director Operations International of NBA in India, along with Australian coach Adrain Newell.

The first year of the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA Programme in Kerala will operate in more than 100 schools in the districts of Ernakululum, Kottayam, Alappuzha, and parts of Thrissur and Pathanamthitta from Nov 20th to January 8th. 5 international coaches have been recruited for this programme by the NBA and Reliance. Along with them, assistant coaches recruited locally and the trained PE teachers will conduct daily basketball-led physical education classes for grades 4-10 in their schools.

In addition to the in-school portion, select schools will make their courts available four days per week for after-school basketball programsmes comprised of more advanced training and individual skills and team-based competitions. These will include 3x3 and 5x5 competitions, and the top players and teams from each school will be selected to compete in a citywide competition.

A Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA Hot Shot Competition will identify the best shooters in each school to compete in a citywide championship at the end of the program. Kerala for the first time will have the chance to see an NBA or WNBA legend at the end of the programme to work with players and coaches.

November 19, 2013

Indian coach Paramdeep Singh participated in NBA's coaches training workshop in Orlando again

For the second time, 34-year-old Indian Basketball coach Paramdeep Singh took part in the NBA's coaches training workshop, organized from November 3-9 in Orlando, Florida, in the USA. Singh was the only Indian coach in the small contingent of coaches - mainly from China - invited to this workshop. This was his second time participating in this workshop, after being invited to the NBA's training sessions in Texas back in 2011.

Singh is currently associated as an assistant coach with India's U18, U16, and U14 teams.

Upon his return to India, Singh spoke to Hindustan Times recently, where he discussed his selection and hopes of a bright future for Indian basketball.
"My selection came as a surprise to me and it was an honour also as no Indian coach has ever been selected for this training workshop. Observers from the NBA were present at the Mumbai workshop, which was organised by the Indian chapter of NBA in 2011, when they spotted me and selected me for the prestigious workshop in US."

Paramdeep, who is working as an inspector with BSF, shared with HT his dream for encouraging young talent to opt for this game. "We aim to spot young talent and train them for future by using techniques and methodologies being used in US and European countries. We are also getting renowned industrial houses as sponsors. With stuff available with us, we can hope that the future of the sport is bright," he said.

November 18, 2013

The Cult of Kobe: In China, the Lakers' Superstar is more myth than man

“Kobe! Kobe! Kobe!”

The referee called foul and the player stepped on to the free-throw line. The chant broke out from the majority of 17,000 NBA devotees packed inside the MasterCard Center in Beijing, China, watching the Lakers play the Warriors in the first of their two pre-season exhibition games in the country, on October 15th. Fans had flocked the arena in jerseys and presumed allegiances to both teams, but when it came down to it, attendees in both Laker and Warrior jerseys started chanting Kobe’s name.

The only problem was, Kobe wasn’t the player shooting the free throws. He wasn’t even on court. He wasn’t dressed for the game at all. He sat on the bench amongst the assistant coaches in a business suit, still nursing his healing Achilles tendon. The chants continued nevertheless, in a vain attempt to perhaps see him change into Laker gear and step on court, or simply acknowledge their existence, or maybe just see his face flashed once more on the jumbotron.

The chants continue, whether it’s Pau Gasol or David Lee or Stephen Curry or Steve Blake on the free throw line. They continue during the timeout, they continue at the halftime break, and they continue well after the game ends and the players exit to the locker rooms.

Outside the arena, following a 100-95 Warriors win, Beijing briefly turns into bizzaro Downtown LA. Kobe jerseys, T-shirts, hats, mouse pads, iPhone covers, bags, scarves, and pretty much anything else that could possibly be merchandized are being hawked. The subways are full of fans of all ages in Kobe jerseys. The NBA may have held the game at a neutral venue, but with the Mamba on deck, the Lakers were  always going to be the home team.

Such is the impact in China of the cult of Kobe. While Bryant has collected championship rings, All Star accolades, an MVP award, and legendary status back home in America over the course of his 17-year-career, he has also been able to cultivate a unique following in the world’s most populous country. In China, Kobe has developed into more than a man. He’s a myth. He’s spoken of in reverence, and alluded to like a demi-god.

There was that time when he dunked on the Great Wall of China.

The time when he scored 68 points in 15 minutes at a celebrity game.

There is that statue of him in the city of Guangzhou.

There was the time when he had 15,000 fans waiting for him at a venue at 9 in the morning, in line for his scheduled appearance at 4 in the afternoon.

And the time when the Asia Society celebrated him as a Cultural Ambassador to China and others referred to him as a “one-man State department, reaching directly to the people.” 

For a country that has long thrived on the socialist philosophies of ‘we’ rather than ‘I’, China have a complicated history with personality cults, starting with the Supreme Commander himself. With changing times, a new type of celebrity obsession has hit the Chinese youth, and everyone from Rihanna to Justin Bieber to David Beckham draw colossal numbers of screaming fans with their every move.

Basketball has long been one of the favourite sports, and with the success of Yao Ming, the NBA has become by far the most popular sporting league in China. Yao is considered one of the country’s greatest ambassadors and is a role model for many, but now that he’s settled back in China, his presence isn’t as novel as it once used to be. Amongst current NBA-ers, LeBron James has dominated Chinese social media (renren, sina weibo, tencent weibo, youko, etc.) more than any other Western celebrity over the past year. Tracy McGrady attracted big crowds in every Chinese small town where he CBA team visited last season, and was even welcomed by 2,000 screaming fans when he first landed at the Qingdao airport. Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, and of course, Jeremy Lin are a big deal here, too.

But nothing matches the strange and wonderful veneration of Kobe. It started in the last 90s, when a young Kobe began to host basketball camps around China. The mainstream popularity of the NBA in the country synchronized with the Shaq-Kobe three-peat, and by the time Yao became an NBA mainstay superstar, Kobe was hitting game-winners on the regular and scoring in the 40s, 50s, 60s, and 80s.

By the time he had won his fifth championship, the legend of Kobe in China was sealed. Mamba was visiting the country nearly every off-season and visiting smaller off-beat towns to get closer to more and more hardcore fans. He was part of the US Olympic Basketball squad that won the 2008 gold medal in Beijing, and in front of the crowd at the same MasterCard center, it was Kobe that memorably stepped up as the brightest star in a team full of superstars to defeat Spain in the Final. On the side, he became involved with charity projects and set up the Kobe Bryant China Fund, which ended up raising millions to help those affected by natural disasters in the country.

Judy Seto, a trusted physical therapist of Bryant, reveals many of the strangest stories about Kobe’s popularity in China, and she adds that, “He’s made an effort to cultivate that relationship [with China] every year. And it’s not just, ‘Let me make this stop at this store.’ It’s, ‘Let me hold this clinic to work with some of the kids and spend some time with them. Let me understand what this city has in terms of culture or the main manufacturing or what’s the main draw.’”

Before the Lakers-Warriors exhibition in Beijing, NBA Commissioner David Stern tried to explain the Kobe phenomenon in China. “Well first of all, he’s playing for the Lakers,” Stern said, “He’s been playing for a very long time, as viewership and interest in our game has grown dramatically. And he has come to this country quite often and understands what it is to cultivate a fan base which totally understands that he has, shall I say, the heart of a champion. His Chinese fans totally expect him, beyond all odds, to make a full recovery from his injury because they have come to have enormous confidence in his ability and his determination. I think that’s because he’s shown the ability and determination at different stages of his career to win, to play at his highest and to elevate his teammates.”

Bryant, however, slightly deflects the answer from himself when speaking on his own popularity. "If you go back to the States, fans have gone through this progression of hero marketing,” he told Mike Bresnahan of LA Times, “They kind of lived through that in the '80s with Michael [Jordan] and Magic [Johnson] and having the fanaticism of fans. With so many [U.S.] media outlets, I think it's evolved to something beyond that, where we're a little bit more desensitized by celebrities. Out here, not so much. It's something that's kind of relatively new.”

In recent years, the two championships for the Miami Heat, coupled with the forgettable years for the Lakers, have boosted LeBron’s popularity amongst the newer, younger NBA fans, many of whom are more active on Chinese social media. China likes winners, and yet, despite the fact that Kobe’s last meaningful playoff game came over three years ago, fans have remained loyal to him. Regardless of the problems of the present – the injury, the age, and the declining roster – the Myth of Kobe is secured. “China likes him because he is always working so hard, and he always wants to win,” describes Sun Yimeng, an editor and writer for SLAM China and one of the most famous Kobe fans in China, “I have seen grown men crying in his presence because he inspires them so much.” She also tells the story of a fan – one of many – who bought a Mercedes-Benz ‘Smart Car’ simply to put his name into a lottery of those (in the thousands) with a chance to meet Kobe. “Luckily for him,” she adds, “He won!”

The love for Kobe reached its peak in the player’s darkest on-court moment. When Kobe went down with the Achilles injury to the Warriors at the end of last season, Weibo – China’s version of Twitter – erupted with good-will messages for Bryant. Kobe, who has over 2.3 million followers on Weibo, posted a photograph of himself preparing for surgery on his account. Within 24 hours, the photo had accumulated 45,000 comments and forwarded over 70,000 times. ‘Pray for Kobe’ and ‘God Bless Kobe’ became amongst the most popular trending topics in the country, and fans didn’t hold back with their emotional outpouring of their favourite Kobe memories, their wishes, and their determination to believe that Bryant would be back to his best again. (Jason Q. Ng compiled a fascinating, long list of Weibo comments for Kobe post his injury).

Outside the borders of Mainland China, down to Hong Kong, eastwards to Taiwan, and then around in other Asian nations who are slowly falling deeper in love with the NBA, the Kobe mania continues. In Taiwan, Kobe is in commercials with the country’s most popular entertainer Jay Chou. In the Philippines, the crowd at the recent Rockets-Pacers exhibition game chanted Kobe’s name at his former Laker teammate Dwight Howard. In India, where basketball is still a minor sport, fans on Facebook ran a petition to try and get Kobe to visit the country.

While Kobe – and LeBron, too – are the dominant NBA personalities amongst most of China and Asia in the present, there is a special place still saved for the man who was once bigger than the sport of basketball itself. In China, legions of followers still swear by the gospel of Michael Jordan, and to many of Asia, interest in the NBA is still stuck in a 90s time-warp. According to the Financial Review, back in 1992 during MJ’s heyday, a survey taken by students in China revealed that Jordan was considered the most influential person of the twentieth century.

Jordan made way for Iverson, Iverson for Yao and McGrady, and then, to the new era of LeBron, with Rose and Durant and others. And then there’s Kobe, who has survived all the post-Jordan eras and maintained his popularity and relevance in world basketball.

“Kobe! Kobe! Kobe!”

The venue now is Shanghai, and it’s the second of two China preseason games on October 18th at the Mercedes-Benz Arena. A loud cheer greets Shanghai’s proudest son – Yao Ming – who waved at the fans in attendance. An even louder cheer was saved for Kobe Bryant, who via Philadelphia to Italy to Los Angeles become a legend to a country of hundreds of millions of basketball fans.

Bryant didn’t play in either game in China. The Lakers lost both games. But it didn’t matter. Fans screamed. Fans cried. He was mobbed everywhere he went. Some got to see him in person. Some saw on him on the jumbotron. Some watched him with pride on the Television, excited that he was back in their country. And others sent him messages online.

The chants never stopped. And the cult of Kobe continued.

November 17, 2013

Kolkata tips off their edition of BFI IMG Reliance School League

The 2013-14 BFI-IMG Reliance School League tipped off in Kolkata on Saturday, November 16th, with a grand opening ceremony at the West Bengal Basketball Association Grounds. On the largest year of the School Basketball League's in India which aims to oversee tournaments in eight cities over two months, the league in Kolkata has followed on the heels of league's already tipping off in Ludhiana, Hyderabad, and Delhi over the past few weeks.

The School League in Kolkata was inaugurated by by MP & Arjuna awardee Prasun Banerjee and Guest of Honour Ajit Banerjee, the president of the Bengal Olympic Association. DPS (Megacity) and La Martinerie will be defending their title this year in the Boys' and Girls' categories, respectively.

Participating Teams


Group A: DPS (Megacity), South Point, St. Anthony, La Martinerie, National Gems.
Group B: Khalsa High School, Chetla Boys School, Bharatiya Bidya Bhavan, Nalanda Vidyapeeth, Khalsa English High School.


Group A: La Martinerie, Chetla Girls School, Loreto Eliot, Loreto House, Rashmoni Balika Vidyayala.
Group B: Sushila Birla School, Nalanda Vidyapeeth, Calcutta Intenrational School, Calcutta Girls School, Modern High School.

November 14, 2013

BFI-IMG Reliance School Basketball League tips off in Delhi

Continuing the biggest ever season of the BFI-IMG Reliance School Basketball League, the capital city of Delhi will now play host to the 20-team tournament. 10 boys' and 10 girls' teams have been scheduled for this year's league from around the city.

This year's BFI-IMG Reliance School Basketball League is slated to be the biggest in history, featuring tournaments in eight different Indian cities amongst 1,920 kids from 160 teams over two months. The league's have already tipped off in Ludhiana and Hyderabad in the past few weeks.

Participating School Teams in Delhi


Group A: DPS (RK Puram), Oxford School, GD Goenka School, Bluebells School International, Air Force Bal Bharti School.
Group B: DPS (Mathura Road), Montfort School, Modern School (Barakhamba), Ahlcon International School, St. Xavier's.


Group A: DPS (RK Puram), GD Goenka School, Air Force Bal Bharti School, DPS (Vasant Kunj), St. Thomas School.
Group B: DPS (Mathura Road), Montfort School, Modern School (Barakhamba), Bal Bharti (Pritam Pura), Sachdeva Public School.

GD Goenka Boys and Girls both got off to winning starts, each tallying two wins in Pool A of their respective genders. Oxford School and DPS Vasant Kunj are tied at the top of Pool A for boys and girls respectively.

Find more results from the Delhi School League here.

November 11, 2013

BFI IMG Reliance School Basketball League starts in Hyderabad

The BFI IMG Reliance School Basketball League continued in its second city of the 2013/14 season - Hyderabad - from the launch day on Monday, November 11 at the YMCA Secunderabad. 10 teams in the boys' section and 10 girls' teams will be competing in the competition.

The 2013-14 BFI IMG-Reliance School Basketball League returned with it's biggest iteration ever, going to a record eight Indian cities between October and December, 2013. The tournament will be held this year in New Delhi, Mumbai, Indore, Ludhiana, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Bangalore, and Chennai. The school winners from all the states will participate in the National Champions Cup to be held in April/May, 2014 in New Delhi. The Ludhiana leg of the season tipped off a few weeks ago.

The Hyderabad tournament was inaugurated by former Indian international player LC Umakanth. DRS International School and Oakridge International School started off their campaign on a winning note on the first day.

Here are the teams participating in the Hyderabad league:


Pool A: Oakridge International, Future Kids, St. Andrew's High School, Gitanjali School, Kennedy The Global.
Pool B: Chirec Public School, Hyderabad Public School, DRS International, St. Joseph's High School, Indus World School.


Pool A: NASR School, St. Francis Junior College, St. Ann's High School, Holy Family, Chirec Public School.
Pool B: Future Kids, St. Ann's Junior College, Hyderabad Public School, Delhi Public School, St. Pious Girls High School.

November 9, 2013

India's squad for 3rd FIBA Asia U16 Championship for Women announced

The Basketball Federation of India (BFI) has announced the 12-member roster of girls that will represent India at the 3rd FIBA Asia U16 Championship for Women, set to be held in Colombo (Sri Lanka) from November 23-30, 2013. India has finished at 5th place at the 2011 championship in Jinan (China) and will start from Level 1 of the tournament this year, along with China, Korea, Japan, Chinese Taipei, and Malaysia.

The team is currently undergoing their second training camp at SAI, NSWC Gandhinagar in Gujarat. Their first training camp was held at SAI Aurangabad, Maharashtra from August 10 - September 23. The team is now set to head to the CBA Basketball School in Dongguan, China, for a training camp from November 13-21st in preparation for the U16 FIBA Women's ABC.

Head Coach TD Biju and Coach Abhay Chavan will be leading the Indian contingent to China under the guidance of Senior National Women’s Team Head Coach Francisco Garcia.

"I think the Indian National U16 Girls Basketball Team has some talented players," said Garcia, "We need to focus on the overall development of these players. The goal is to train them harder to join the Senior team in the future. This exposure trip to China will help them to play matches under pressure, which will be key to their development. We expect them to give 100 percent and try to get the best results in the Championship."

India's U16 Girls' roster
  • Vandana Arya
  • Vimmy Varkey
  • Riya Verma
  • Bhandavya HM
  • Lopamudra TK
  • Aneetha PV
  • Gagandeep Kaur
  • Sakshi Pandey
  • Mayukha KT
  • Mughda Amraotkar
  • V. Srividhya
  • MG Shinu
  • Head Coach: TD Biju
  • Coach: Abhay Chavan
  • Foreign Coach: Francisco Garcia

November 8, 2013

BFI invites 25 players for U18 Girls National Training Camp in Gujarat

To sort out the good from the great, the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) has invited 25 of the most talented junior Indian girls for the U18 National Training Camp in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. The camp began on Thursday, November 7th, and is scheduled to be held at the SAI Training Center in the city until November 26, 2013. The next two and a half weeks will help to give an early idea about the roster for India for the U18 FIBA Asia Championship for Women, tentatively scheduled for June 2014.

SAI Punjab's coach Harjinder Singh will be leading the camp, along with former star player/referee and coach Shiba Maggon. India's Senior Women's team coach Francisco Garcia - back after leading the squad to a best-ever 5th place finish at the FIBA Asia Championship for Women in Bangkok - will also attend the camp.

Here are the probables invited to the camp:
  • Sangeeta Kaur (Chhattisgarh)
  • Sangeeta Das (Chhattisgarh)
  • Saranjeet Kaur (Chhattisgarh)
  • Soumya Babbar (Delhi)
  • Suman Pannu (Haryana)
  • Supriya MS (Karnataka)
  • Poojamol KS (Kerala)
  • Elizabeth Hilarious (Kerala)
  • Vinaya Joseph (Kerala)
  • Arathi Vimal (Kerala)
  • Aayushi Lakhotia (Madhya Pradesh)
  • Princy Singh Rathode (Madhya Pradesh)
  • Pooja Laddha (Madhya Pradesh)
  • Shruti Menon (Maharashtra)
  • Ishwari Pingle (Maharashtra)
  • Rajashree Swain (Odisha)
  • Kulwinder Kaur (Punjab)
  • Arshpreet Kaur (Punjab)
  • Nisha Sharma (Rajasthan)
  • R. Sharmila (Tamil Nadu)
  • R. Selva Mithra (Tamil Nadu)
  • P. Hemlatha (Tamil Nadu)
  • K. Devi Rajalakhsmi (Tami Nadu)
  • P. Mathuravaani (Tamil Nadu)
  • Preeti Kumar (Uttar Pradesh)
  • Head Coach: Harjinder Singh
  • Coach: Shiba Maggon
  • Foreign Coach: Francisco Garcia

November 6, 2013

Challengers to the Throne: Who can snatch the MVP award from LeBron?

It will take a mammoth effort by another superstar to end LeBron James' MVP streak. But as Derrick Rose proved in 2011, however difficult it may seem to dethrone The NBA’s King, it is certainly not impossible. Chasing a three-peat more than a personal accolade, LeBron may take his foot off the pedal a little this season, and give an opening to more motivated players. His lead at the head of the pack isn’t secured, and if has any missteps, there are a horde of capable and motivated players hungry to shoot for the top spot.

Here are the top contenders for LeBron James’ MVP crown this season.

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November 4, 2013

Japan crowned FIBA Asia Women's champions, India finish at best-ever 5th

History is made to be changed and records are set to be broken, and no matter how many years may pass by, the history-altering moment can still creep up and surprise us.

After a 43-year gold drought, Japan finally returned to the top in Asia after defeating Korea on Sunday in the Final of the 25th FIBA Asia Championship for Women, held in Bangkok (Thailand) from October 27 - September 3. The last time Japan won gold was back in 1970, in Kuala Lumpur, which was the same year that India made their debut in the tournament. In 2013 - 43 years after that debut and in their 16th time participating in the competition - Indian Women also made history by securing their first-ever Level I victory and finished at fifth place, their best seeding ever.

In the Final, Japan came motivated to dominate from the very first whistle, and played impressive defense to take a 21 point lead over Korea by halftime. They cruised in the second period en route to a comfortable 65-43 victory. Center Ramu Tokashiki - named MVP of the tournament - led Japan with 20 points and 18 rebounds in a dominating performance. Yuka Mamiya doubled up Japan's twin towers in the inside, adding 19 and 9.

China, who missed the Finals for the first time since 2001, and had been the winners of the last two times this tournament was played, had to settle for the Bronze medal, as they defeated Chinese Taipei 61-53 earlier in the day. Song Gao led China with 22 points.

China were edged in the semi-final stage in a close contest by Korea, who were led by Yeon Ha Beon (22) in the 71-66 win. Nan Chen had 23 points for China. In the second semi-final, Japan cruised by Chinese Taipei to win 74-56, with Tokashiki again leading with 17 points. Tsai Pei-Chen led Chinese Taipei with 19.

For India, it was the first chance for newly-appointed Spanish coach Francisco Garcia to lead the team into a major tournament. India were placed in Level 1 of the Preliminary Round after finishing sixth back in 2011, and they were set to face the powerhouses of Asian hoops: China, Japan, Korea, and Chinese Taipei, as well as Kazakhstan. After spending years as India's finest player in the Women's division on the international level, Geethu Anna Jose hinted that this might be her last international outing.

India started off the tournament against Chinese Taipei, who got off to a hot start and never looked back. Led by Yi-Ting Wu (18), Chinese Taipei cruised to a blowout victory, 85-57. Jose struggled from the field in the face of tough defense, and India's offensive load was carried by her Railways' teammate, Anitha Paul Durai (22).

Korea faced India in the next game, in what turned out to be India's worst defensive performance of the competition. Led by Danbi Kim (25) and Hui Lim (16), Korea scored 109 points to India's 62. Jose improved after the first game and scored 17 for India.

China defeated India in their third game, holding India to their lowest scoring output, 97-36. Yanyan Ji had 16 for the winning side.

Eventual champions Japan beat India 81-40, bringing India to four losses out of four games.

India's fifth Preliminary Round game turned out to be the most crucial one, against Kazakhstan. Garcia's Indian squad came out determined to end their level one drought, and took an 11 point lead over the Kazakhs at the end of the first half. But a big third quarter surge brought Kazakhstan all the way back to tie the game. A defensive, back-and-forth final period saw the two team tied at 55 as regulation ended. Led by Paul Durai's 18 points, India took charge of overtime to emerge as 65-62 victors. If was India's first-ever win in Level 1. Oxana Ivanova of Kazakhstan scored 16 to lead her side.

India's last game of the championship was a Level 1 qualifying match against Malaysia, who finished at second place in Level 2. India needed a win to ensure that they would be returning to Level 1 in the championship in 2015. Young starlet Jeena PS scored 24 points and Jose added 21 as India controlled the game from the first period and stayed in command en route to a 74-59 win.

Thus, India's 2013 FIBA Asia campaign ended with a 2-4 record and a fifth place finish. Despite struggling relative to her usual high standards, Jose led the team in scoring (12.8 ppg) and rebounds (7 rpg). Paul Durai played well for India too, and youngster Jeena provided some hope for big performances in the future.

Jose might not be part of the team by the time the next tournament rolls along, but she can hold her head up high to potentially end her international career on a positive note, helping her team make history in Bangkok. While the top four in Asia has been generally the same combination of China-Japan-Korea-Chinese Taipei, the fifth place is up for grabs, and it's up to the future Indian squads to ensure that they don't fall below the spot again. India can even start looking ahead and dream of perhaps breaking into the top four soon, although no outside team has dethroned the big four in 29 years!

Final Standings
  • 1. Japan
  • 2. Korea
  • 3. China
  • 4. Chinese Taipei
  • 5. India
All Tournament Team
  • Ramu Tokashiki (Japan) - MVP
  • Yuka Mamiya (Japan)
  • Asami Yoshida (Japan)
  • Beon Yeonha (Korea)
  • Lu Wen (China)

November 3, 2013

Every NBA player to have ever visited India - The Comprehensive List

When Satnam Singh's name was called 52nd on the 2015 NBA Draft Night, he became the first Indian to be drafted into the world's finest basketball league. While he still has miles to go before he makes his first appearance in an NBA game, he sat set the wheels in motion for many other Indians to potentially follow him to the league. But while we wait for Indians to make it to the NBA, there has been no shortage of NBA players from coming to India.

India has great potential as a basketball market, and over the past half a decade or so, the NBA has come to realize and support that potential. Dozens of NBA players have already stepped foot on Indian shores in recent years, most of them sent by the NBA itself, but many others visited with other personal and professional agendas. Apart from imparting leading basketball training clinics, many of the visits were also highlighted by charity events.

I've been keeping a tally of these visits ever since the inception of this blog. Looking ahead to the future, and it seems that the number of these visits will only increase - the new Indian-born owner of the Sacramento Kings Vivek Ranadive has even dreamt of bringing the entire squad for an exhibition game in India.

So, before the numbers get too out of hand, here is the running list of every NBA player - past and present - to have visited India. Although I have scoured recent history comprehensively, there is no doubt that I may have missed visits several older visits, or visits done in complete privacy without any media fanfare (for example, Phil Jackson may or may not have spent the late 70s trekking across the Himalayas). Feel free to contact me to update the list with any such cases.

Kevin Garnett: October 2006 - In his last year's as a Timberwolf, KG took part in an adidas promotional trip through Asia which seemed to be years ahead of its time. He visited schools and adidas stores New Delhi and Bangalore, and stopped by the Taj Mahal in Agra.

Dominque Wilkins, Sam Perkins, Ronny Turiaf, Kyle Korver, Pat Garrity, Linton Johnson: July 2008 - The NBA's Basketball Without Borders Asia camp was held in New Delhi in the 2008 summer. A group of former and current NBA players - headlined by none other than the Human Highlight Film himself - came to India for the event. Although they were there for coaching programmes at BWB in New Delhi, they also visited the Taj Mahal. Korver started his trip in Kolkata, where he took part in charity work with the foundation left behind by Mother Teresa.

Robert Parish, Marty Conlon: November 2008 - Former Celtic great Parish and retired big man Conlon came to Mumbai for the NBA/WNBA Hoop School programme. Conlon, who works with the NBA office, has made several more visits to India.

AC Green: April 2009 - The former Laker came to Mumbai to inaugurate a basketball court in Nagpada.

Baron Davis: July 2009 - When B-Diddy was with the Clippers, he took a summer trip to India to kick off the NBA Jam event at a mall in Mumbai.

Dikembe Mutombo: December 2009 - The fearsome Mount Mutombo himself was in Mumbai and Chennai to unveil new basketball courts in both cities.

Marty Conlon: July 2010 - Conlon returned to India to assist the NBA Challenge event in Bangalore.

Dwight Howard: August 2010 - Howard was still with the Magic when he made his trip to India, and, at its time, it was the most important visit by an NBA player yet. The NBA sent him to the Delhi-NCR region and to Bangalore for a promotional trip. Dwight took part in fan events at malls, visited a zoo, and held a clinic in Bangalore with India's national team.

Pau Gasol: August 2010 - Just weeks after Howard, the NBA sent another big All Star - Pau Gasol. Gasol went to Delhi and Mumbai, taking part in NBA Cares programmes and holding clinics in schools in both cities.

George Gervin: February 2011 - The Iceman - along with WNBA star Katie Smith - came to India in a trip sponsored by the US Department of State and the NBA. They held clinics and charity events in Delhi and Mumbai.

Shawn Bradley: March 2011 - Quietly, without any fanfare, the former NBA center volunteered at a leprosy colony in the Thottanaval village in Tamil Nadu as behalf of the Rising Star Outreach.

Brandon Jennings: May 2011- While still with the Bucks, the NBA sent Jennings to Mumbai and he also made the first official NBA visit to Pune. He Attended Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA National Skills Challenge Finals in Mumbai, held clinics in both cities, and took part in charity events with Magic Bus.

Boris Diaw: Summer 2011 - The San Antonio Spur came to India to intern under photographer Steve Winter who was working on a wildlife photography project on tigers at the Bandhavgarh National Park in Umaria, Madhya Pradesh.

Kenny Natt: May 2011-June 2012 - More people perhaps remember him as a coach, but Kenny Natt was also a journeyman NBA player for most of the 80s. After serving as interim head coach of the Kings, he came to India as the Head Coach of the Senior National Men's squad. Over the year he spent in the country, Natt traveled to several cities attending training camps, tournaments, and coaches' coaching programmes. He held clinics with the national squad of course and the junior squads too. He led India to the FIBA Asia Championship in Wuhan, China, in 2011. And much, much more.

Steve Smith: September 2011 - While working with NBA TV, Smith came to Delhi-NCR to help inaugurate NBA Jam and also spend some time working out with India's U16 squad.

Muggsy Bogues: January 2012 - The NBA's shortest ever player came to New Delhi where he interacted and trained young players in local schools.

Raja Bell: July 2012 - Bell was in New Delhi, where he trained with India’s National Men’s Team and participated in a variety of fan events and basketball development programmes.

Robert Horry: September 2012 - Mr. Big Shot came for the launch of NBA 3x tournaments to Delhi-NCR.

Luc Longley: October 2012 - The former Chicago Bull Center visited India for the Finals of the first-ever Mahindra NBA Challenge National Championship in New Delhi.

Jerome Williams, Paul Grant, Anthony Bonner: December 2012 - The Junkyard Dog Jerome Williams and a couple of retired NBA journeymen joined an American squad called 'Superpower' to take part in the legendary Savio Cup Tournament in Mumbai. They won the tournament.

Chris Bosh: July 2013 - In the most-hyped trip made by an NBA player to India to date, Chris Bosh visited Mumbai amidst much fanfare. The "#NamasteBosh" promotions laid the groundwork for this big visit, which Bosh made soon after capturing his second NBA title with the Heat. Bosh visited sites around Mumbai, announced new season of NBA Jam, held development camps, visited schools and colleges and took part in charity event. He also made a personal visit to the Taj Mahal.

Horace Grant, Ron Harper, Peja Stojakovic September 2013 - The three former champions from various squads came to Mumbai for the NBA Jam Finals. Grant visited New Delhi as well.

Muggsy Bogues: Feburary 2014 - Bogues returned to India to assist with the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA Programme in Mumbai and Kochi.

Isaiah Thomas: June 2014 - In one of his last public appearances as a Sacramento King, Thomas conducted basketball clinics at schools and community organizations across Mumbai and Chennai, provided in-depth analysis to the NBA Finals on Sony SIX, and more.

Bruce Bowen: October - November 2014 - The three-time former NBA champ of the San Antonio Spurs was in India as the 2014-15 NBA season tipped off. Bowen attended NBA Jam and Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA events in Kolkata, Gurgaon, Chandigarh, and Ludhiana, His was the first official NBA visit to Kolkata. 

Vlade Divac: December 2014 - Former King and Laker Vlade Divac accompanied Kings' Indian owner Vivek Ranadive and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to a trip to India. Divac visited a school in Mumbai as part of the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA programme and took part in a UNICEF visit LTMC Medical College in Mumbai.

Cedric Ceballos: January 2015 - The former NBA All Star and Slam Dunk contest - who played for the Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers, and several other teams in the 90s - came to India to host the UBA Men's National University Basketball Championship in Chennai and judge the tournament's slam dunk contest.

Shandon Anderson - March 2015 - Anderson was the chief guest at the closing ceremony of Bengaluru's Jain University's four-day sports festival VIE 2015. He played in the NBA for a decade after becoming the 54th pick by the Utah Jazz in 1996, later moving to the Rockets, Knicks, and finally, the Heat. Random.

Sim Bhullar - May 2015 - The first NBA player of Indian-descent, the 7-foot-5 Canadian Center who played for the Sacramento Kings, Bhullar came to India soon after the Kings' regular season ended. His trip was a perfect culmination of hoops, fun, cultural exchanges, and glamour. In Mumbai, he mingled with Bollywood top brass like Abhishek Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra, and Ranveer Singh, andwas a special guest on the IPL cricket show Extraa Innings. He surprised young basketball players at YMCA courts in Bandra, joined young players in a Jr NBA camp in New Delhi, and spoke to the media about his hopes for more Indians to follow him into the NBA. He took part in the ‘#Simsanity Challenge’ put forth by Indian fans in social media, fitting into an Auto-Rickshaw and saying Indian tongue-twisters. In Amritsar, he reconnected with his Punjabi roots and paid obeisance at the Golden Temple before heading to Pingalwara, a home for individuals suffering from incurable and terminal diseases, to which his family made a contribution. In Chandigarh, he conducted a basketball coaching clinics.

Jason Richardson - October/November 2015 - 14-year retired veteran and two-time Slam Dunk champion Jason Richardson came to India from October 29th - November 1st 2015 for a three-day promotional tour of the country for the NBA Jam and the continued growth of basketball in India. Richardson travelled to New Delhi, Ahmedabad (Gujarat), and Mumbai to conduct basketball clinics for players and coaches alike and engage with fans at two of the NBA's premier events in India: the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA programme and NBA Jam.

Brian Shaw - February 2016 - Former NBA champion (3 times, with the Lakers) and ex-Nuggets coach Brian Shaw came to India in February 2016 to promote the NBA. During his trip, he tipped off premier NBA events like the ACG-NBA Jump National Finals in Greater Noida, NBA City Finals in Jaipur, and NBA Jam in Mumbai. His most significant contribution was at the ACG-NBA Jump Finals, where he helped choose Palpreet Singh Brar as the competition's winner and India's representative to the NBDL trials.

Joe Courtney - March/April 2016 - Former NBA and global basketball journeyman Joe Courtney came to India in March 2016 to broadcast season 2 of the UBA Basketball League in Hyderabad.

Robin Lopez, Seth Curry - April/May 2016 - Center Robin Lopez and guard Seth Curry - at that time belonging to the New York Knicks and Sacramento Kings - travelled to Noida and Mumbai from April 28 - May 1 to support the continued growth of basketball by conducting youth clinics and interacting with local fans. They engaged with players at Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA Elite National Camp and took part in Sony SIX's show 'Around the Hoop'.

Shawn Marion - November/December 2016 - Former NBA champ Shawn Marion came to Mumbai and New Delhi for a five-day trip, where he took part in the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA programme, chatted with fans live on NBA India's Facebook page, conducted a junior NBA camp at the ITL School in Delhi, and inaugurated the 2016/17 ACG-NBA Jump programme in Mumbai. The obligatory 'Around the Hoop' appearance was made, too.

Alex Scales - February/March 2017 - Scales played one game for the San Antonio Spurs in 2005, and thus qualifies for this list. The 38-year-old shooting guard played in a dozen countries around the world before accepting the invitation to come to India to play for the Mumbai Challengers of the UBA Basketball League Season 4.

Kenneth Faried - May 2017 - Faried, 'The Manimal' of the Denver Nuggets, visited India to promote the NBA playoffs, visit the Taj Mahal, dip Parle G into chai, appear on Sony SIX's "Around the Hoop" show, and meet young fans at the NBA Zone at the Ambience Mall in Gurgaon.

Yao Ming - July 2017 - Chinese basketball legend and Basketball Hall of Famer Yao Ming arrived on India to watch the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup in Bengaluru. Yao, 36, indisputably the most successful Asian basketball player in history, retired from the game in 2011 and is currently the president of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA). Without much fanfare, Yao sat in his corner at the Sree Kantaveera Stadium, took in some high-level basketball action.

Kevin Durant - July 2017 - Reigning champion with the Golden State Warriors, Finals MVP, former MVP, four-time scoring champions, Kevin Durant became definitely the greatest player to set foot on Indian soil,landed in New Delhi. Durant was greeted with a happy set of fans when he landed in Delhi, and the fandom got considerably more star-studded at a reception with some of India’s biggest sports and entertainment celebrities on his first night. The next morning: Durant got to work. His foundation donated two basketball courts to the Ramjas School in New Delhi and he interacted with young schoolkids at the courts’ inauguration. Later, Durant headed to the NBA’s state of the art elite India Academy in Greater Noida, where he trained several of India’s top teenage basketball prospects. Durant’s time at the Academy ended up as he was joined by hundreds of more young players from the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA programme, as well has a few thousand who checked in via a live-stream from around the country, to create a Guinness World Record for “largest basketball lesson” (3,459 attendees). Durant visited the Taj Mahal in Agra, too.

Andre Miller - October 2017 - One of the most-reliable passers of the past few decades, former NBA point guard Andre "The Professor" Miller visited Mumbai and Delhi-NCR from October 27-29, 2017. Miller appeared on the SONY SIX show "Around the Hoop", trained young players at the NBA Academy India, and hosted a coaching session at the Apeejay School in New Delhi.

Michael Ray Richardson - November 2017 - The former All Star, who played in the late 70s and 80s for the Knicks, Suns, and Nets, visited the NBA India Academy in Greater Noida to interact and train the young players. He also went to Mumbai for 'Around the Hoop.

Kevin Martin - January 2018 - The retired shooting guard visited Mumbai, Delhi, and Greater Noida to coach in the Reliance Jr. NBA Programme, the NBA India Academy, and appear on "Around the Hoop" on Sony SIX.

Sam Vincent - April 2018 - NBA journeyman and champion with the '85 Celtics, Sam Vincent came to India for 'The Great Basketball Hunt' in New Delhi.

Brook Lopez -May 2018 - Lopez, who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, followed his brother Robin's footsteps to visit India in Spring 2018. He attended the finals of the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA programme as well as the ACG-NBA Jump, both held in early May in the NBA Academy India in Greater Noida. Lopez also visited the Taj Mahal in Agra during his trip, went to Mumbai to watch an IPL game, and showed up on the "Around the Hoop" show on Sony SIX.

Kelly Olynyk, Dwight Powell, Corey Brewer, Chris LeVert, Darvin Ham - May/June 2018 - The NBA, FIBA, and the BFI came together to host the 2018 Basketball Without Borders Asia camp in India, ten years after it was held last here in New Delhi. This year's camp was in the NBA Academy India in Noida. Olynyk (Heat), Powell (Mavericks), Brewer (Thunder), LeVert (Nets), and former player and current assistant coach Ham (Bucks) were part of the large contingent of NBA/WNBA players/coaches to come to India for the BWB programme. The players and coaches worked with 66 top youth players from across Asia from May 30 - June 2. The players also got a chance to visit the Taj Mahal in Agra during their trip.

Robert Horry - October 2018 - "Big Shot Bob" made his second visit to India prior to the beginning of the 2018-19 NBA season. He worked out with the prospects at the NBA Academy India in Greater Noida and visited Mumbai to appear on NBA broadcast TV shows.

Tim Hardaway - November 2018 - "Senior" Hardaway, the five-time All Star who played for the Warriors, Heat, and more in the 90s, visited India to lead basketball clinics, engage with Indian basketball fans and appear on Sony's NBA wraparound show "Saturday Morning Live."

Rashard Lewis - January 2019 - The first player of New Year 2019 to visit India was Rashard Lewis, star with the Seattle Supersonics and Orlando Magic, and champion with the 2013 Miami Heat. Lewis visited Mumbai and Bengaluru to lead the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA programmes.

Harrison Barnes - April/May 2019 - The Sacramento Kings' forward Harrison Barnes was in India in the height of the summer to promote the upcoming 'NBA India Games' later this year, in which his Kings will play against the Indiana Pacers. Barnes fully immersed into the India experience, visiting heritage sites, gobbling up Indian food, playing Cricket, and much more. He spent most of his time between Delhi-NCR and Mumbai, with a visit to the Taj Mahal in Agra in between. At the NBA Academy India in Greater Noida, Barnes he worked with finalists of the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA programme and the ACG-NBA Jump.

Yao Ming - June 2019 - The former Houston Rocket, Basketball Hall of Famer, and president of the Chinese Basketball Association, Yao Ming returned to India for the draw ceremony of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers, in Bengaluru.

November 1, 2013

Shooting Star: Stephen Curry is ready to turn the long-shot Warriors into contenders

Excerpts of this feature were first published in the 118th edition (2013 - No. 21) of SLAM China Magazine. Here is my complete and original English version of the story.

“It’s my first time playing in China. I want to give the fans a show.”

On the eve of the pre-season exhibition game between the Warriors and the Lakers in Beijing, Stephen Curry made his intent clear. Basketball was officially on the agenda, but whenever the league’s most promising young sharp-shooter takes the stage, it becomes more than a game. It becomes a show.

The next night, the show began slowly for Curry. It was – technically – ‘just’ an exhibition. Teammate David Lee did most of the damage for his side, scoring a game-high 31 points and keeping the Warriors in contention. The Lakers came fired up and led by 11 points after three quarters.

In the midst of this, Curry’s pregame proclamation – and his potential influence on the game – were mostly forgotten. The eyes of the crowd were transfixed instead on Kobe Bryant, who, while nursing his Achilles tendon, hadn’t even suited for this game. The crowd chanted Kobe’s name at every opportunity, and the game’s biggest star became the man who wasn’t even participating in it.


A good point guard has to do a lot of things. He has to be a great passer, has to have a strong handle on the ball, has to defend the perimeter, has to penetrate, has to be creative, and has to convert his open looks.

A great point guard has to do all of those things – and be the leader of the squad.

A day before the Beijing game, Warriors’ Coach Mark Jackson, one of the most respected point guards of his era, had made it clear that his starting point guard – Curry – was now ready to follow in his footsteps.

“He’s a leader, a great basketball player, and an All Time great shooter, and he’s coming off of an outstanding season,” Jackson said, “He’s done a great job in being one of the captains and leaders for this team. I’m excited about what the future holds for Steph Curry.”

Curry’s own experiences with a point-guard as Coach seem to have benefitted him, and he told SLAM that he was lucky to have Mark Jackson at the helm.

“I have a special relationship with coach,” Curry said, “He played the same position that I’m at right now. I definitely learn a lot from him every single day and he instills a lot of confidence in me to go there and play well.”


Ending last season with a memorable playoffs run definitely raised interest amongst basketball fans around the world for Curry and his young Warriors. In Beijing too, although the Lakers and Kobe are definitely the crowd darlings, there were enough Golden State and Curry fans to make their voices heard.

While the Warriors trail for most of the game, Curry begins to show flashes of the leadership that he has been promising. He has only 10 points at the end of three quarters, but he adds seven assists to in limited minutes to keep his teammates involved and begins to exert more pressure on his opponents at the defensive end.

This is all part of the plan – he says – a plan to the 25-year-old to improve every part of his game.

“I’ve been working on everything,” he says, “In the summer workouts there was a lot of defense, lot of focus on getting stronger, quicker, and also been working on my handling and passing abilities that – as a point guard – I have to be able to do every single night. Everything that I do I think I can get better that.”

“I plan to be playing in my way and doing whatever the team needs,” he adds, “My focus is on continuing to train to make myself stronger and better.”


But Curry hadn’t forgotten about the one skill that makes him special, that sets him apart. He hadn’t forgotten that he promised a show in Beijing.

When the fourth quarter came along, with the Warriors trailing 80-69, the show finally began.

Three. Lead cut.

Two free throws. Game grows closer.

Three. Game tied.

Three. Dagger.

And a few more free throws. Game over.

While the Lakers played their backups for most of the final quarter, Coach Mark Jackson put his best team out, and let his best player punctuate the night with a 14-point takeover in the final period.

No one was surprised when most of the damage came from the three-point line. At this rate, Curry has potential to challenge Ray Allen and Reggie Miller as the greatest three-point shooter in NBA history. On one memorable night, he dropped 54 points on the Knicks at the famous Madison Square Garden. He became the only player ever to finish with at least 250 threes and 500 assists in the same season. And, over the course of 2012-13, Curry set a record in the league for most three-pointers ever made in a single-season, overtaking Ray Allen’s 269 and finishing his year with 272. “I didn’t know about the record until the end of the season, but when I found out, I tried to break it,” he said.

“I’ll try to break my own record again in the coming season.”


Three nights later, Curry and the Warriors steamrolled by the Lakers again, this time in Shanghai.

A torch had been passed. The Warriors are now looking past the Lakers, and are now aiming for the best teams in their conference.
“Our plan is to be as consistent as possible,” Curry says, “We can’t have any bad nights. The West is tough; every team on any given night has an opportunity to beat you. You have to show up, you have to execute, you have to be physical, and play with a sense of urgency every single night. And through the course of the season, hopefully we’ll separate ourselves as one of the best.”

With David Lee coming off an All Star season, Andrew Bogut healthy and ready to make a big defensive contribution again, Andre Iguodala added to the mix as a multi-purpose two-way threat on the perimeter, Klay Thompson still shooting lights out, and Harrison Barnes continuing his rapid development, the Warriors have the squad – on paper, at least – to improve their sixth-place finish from last season and make a deeper playoff run.

But with opponents like the Spurs, Thunder, Rockets, Clippers and the Grizzlies battling them on a regular basis, not to mention the occasional meetings with Eastern powerhouses like the Heat, Bulls, or the Pacers, Mark Jackson’s team have are still only a long-shot to make the jump from the second-round exit to genuine title contenders.

Luckily for them, they will be led by a player who is more than capable of overcoming any long-shot that comes his way. Stephen Curry gave China a show over the summer, and as the NBA season begins, he’ll make sure that the Golden State show goes on.