January 31, 2014

New Delhi hosts 2013-14 BFI-IMG Reliance College Basketball League

The 2013-14 BFI-IMG Reliance School Basketball League now heads to the nation's capital, as a total of 20 squads will compete for the title in New Delhi. The league, which has already launched in Hyderabad and Mumbai earlier this month, is set to be held in a record eight Indian cities this season.

The league is being organized in collaboration with the Delhi Basketball Association. After the leagues are completed in all eight cities, the winners from each will will participate in the National Champions Cup to be held in April/May, 2014 in New Delhi.

New Delhi's BFI-IMG Reliance College Basketball League - Participating Teams

  • Group A:Hindu College, Kirori Mal College, Shri Ram College of Commerce, Zakir Husain College, Motilal Sri Venkateswara College.
  • Group B:St. Stephen’s College, Hansraj College, Khalsa College, Nehru College, Ramjas College.
  • Group A: St. Stephen’s College, Miranda House College, Ramjas College, Khalsa College, Kirori Mal College.
  • Group B: Lady Shri Ram College, Shri Ram College of Commerce, Gargi College, Sri Venkateswara College, Jesus and Mary College.

January 30, 2014

Muggsy Bogues to return to India for Reliance Jr. NBA programme

The NBA is a league of giants and superhumans, where individuals who are blessed with a blend of athleticism and basketball talent push each other to the absolute limit. But even this tough, competitive atmosphere leaves room for anomalies, for exceptions that prove that sometimes motivation and will can be as much of a factor as size or finesse. It is this message that the NBA wants to convey to a world of basketball fans because there is hope for that NBA dream for all, no matter the size or opportunity. With the right combination of hard work and confidence, even an underdog can perform miracles.

And the NBA has had to bigger underdog than the smallest guy on court. Tyrone 'Muggsy' Bogues, who at 5'3" still holds the record for being the shortest player ever in the league, nevertheless played fourteen productive seasons for 14 years which included a memorable stint with the Charlotte Hornets before retiring in 2001.

Now, Bogues will bring that motivation and inspiration that helped him excel in his own career to a host of young basketball aspirants in India. Bogues is set to visit India next week - his second visit in three years - stopping by Mumbai and Kochi to help out with the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA programme. NBA India has announced that he will be working with several young Indian players as well as coaches and will help to promote basketball participation and a healthy, active lifestyle.

The Reliance Foundation and NBA announced a multiyear partnership to launch a comprehensive school-based youth basketball strategy for India: the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA programme, which aims to teach basketball to more than 100,000 youth and train 300 coaches and physical education instructors to implement a turnkey NBA curriculum in India. Over the course of the long-term partnership, the goal is to reach one million youth and train 2,000 coaches and physical education instructors across the country! The first year of the programme is operating in more than 150 schools across Mumbai and Kochi.

This will be Bogues' second trip to India. He visited the country back in January 2012. His last visit was to New Delhi where he took part in an NBA India and Senate India Caucus Basketball Event at the Modern School in Barakhamba. Bogues interacted with around 75 local schoolkids and was welcomed by five visiting members of the American congressional delegation.

I wrote about Bogues' clinic in New Delhi and also interviewed the former NBA point guard about dominating in a big player's league and the message that he would like convey to young Indians. Here are some excerpts from that interview:

Hoopistani: It seems that the NBA is keen to abolish the notion that one needs to be tall to be a basketball star. 6 foot 1 Brandon Jennings was here preaching the same purpose last year. Is that the message that you are bringing here with you as well?

MB: Yes, that that is exactly the message that I want to spread here in India. Height isn't everything. When I was growing up, many people told me that I would never make it. But I felt like I had the potential to play well. I developed a lot of confidence in myself over the years and I was able to show that even someone at five foot three inches could play basketball - which is known as a 'tall man's game' - at the highest level, the NBA. Without that confidence and self-belief, players like me or Brandon Jennings would've never made it.

Hoopistani: At the grassroots level in India, a lot of players are still scouted based on their height first and talent second. Was this also the case in the US when you were younger?

MB: Yes, it was very similar, to an extent. People thought that in basketball, height equaled talent, and there were few opportunities for smaller players. But I always believed that the game is for whoever has the skills to play, not just for six or seven footers! I want to pass on that same belief to Indians who are still at an early age.

Hoopistani: Was it a struggle for yourself - as a shorter player - to have coaches and scouts recognise you for your natural talent and hand you opportunities?

MB: Yes, I had to change the mindset of a lot of coaches when I was young who believed that height was the only important thing. I competed and played well against those bigger than me to change the perceptions. But what helped me is that I understood my point guard position and absorbed all the knowledge I could relating to that position. I had to play to my strengths, which were dribbling and passing the ball. A lot of smaller players who are point guards think that they have to score a lot to be effective and sometimes, this can hurt them. That's why a point guard has to know when to score and when to get his teammates involved.

See more of the interview here.

Indian players, even the most athletically talented or tall ones, are underdogs too, because they don't have the access to the training, facilities, coaching, or competitive basketball opportunities in India that young players from the USA or some other countries may have. Hopefully Muggsy can motivate this generation of hoop dreamers to keep fighting to be the best they can despite this.

January 28, 2014

India win Men's Basketball Gold at Goa's Lusofonia Games; Women bag bronze medal

Now, we're getting somewhere!

India started their 2014 international basketball calendar in spectacular fashion, as the Senior Men's National team defeated Angola in a thrilling contest at the Final of the 3rd Lusofonia Games Basketball Tournament, held at the Goa University Complex in Taleigao, Goa on January 27th. The win capped a successful, undefeated run for the Indian team who defended their home turf in style to defeat the favoured African champions. India's Women's team - comprising mostly of under-21 players - finished with a bronze medal. Mozambique won Women's gold.

The Lusofonia Games are organized by the ACOLOP (Associação dos Comités Olímpicos de Língua Oficial Portuguesa). Because of Goa's historical Portuguese influence, India is an associate member of the Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking countries) and participated in these games. 12 countries from four continents are taking part in nine different sports this year. The basketball tournament at the Games was held from January 23-27, featuring six teams in the Men's division and four for the Women. India entered the competition officially under the 'Goa-India' banner with Lusofonia rules requiring that a certain percentage of India's national team comprise of players from the state of Goa

Led by Head Coach Scott Flemming, India came into the Finals undefeated in the tournament and after already sneaking past Angola once in the group stage. Angola - ranked 15th in the FIBA World Rankings - are Africa's most successful basketball team and most recent FIBA Africa Champions. They sent a mostly Under-23 side for the Lusofonia Games, but India's performances was nevertheless extremely impressive. India are ranked down at 61 in the FIBA rankings and fielded a tweaked senior squad featuring a couple of Goa players to fulfill the tournament's criteria.

Both teams started slow on the offensive end in the Men's Final, and India - playing without veteran point guard Sambhaji Kadam was missed the finale to injury - held on to a slim four point lead at halftime. Angola came storming back in the third quarter to outscore India by 23-16 and take a three-point advantage going into the fourth. The final period, played in front of a large cheering crowd, saw India make a heroic comeback to take the lead and then hold to deliver a 77-70 victory. For a squad marred with a history of late-game nervousness, it was a remarkable, clutch performance. Guard Joginder Singh led India with 18 points while captain Vishesh Bhriguvanshi added 17, including a last minute dagger three. Angola's star Edson Mdoniema was the leading scorer with 23 for the silver-medalists.

Earlier in the day, another strong African side Mozambique defeated Cape Verde 56-37 to win the Men's Bronze Medal.

India were placed in Group B for the Men's Preliminary Round along with Guinea Bissau and Angola. India started off the tournament with confidence as they blazed past Guinea Bissau in the first game, displaying incredible defensive intensity to hold their opponents to just 18 points in the first half and cruising to a 82-48 win.

India played Angola next, and continued their form to take a 15 point lead early in the game and an 18-point advantage at halftime. Angola began to chip away at the lead after the halftime break, and came within a single possession to India in the game's last minutes. Fortunately, India were able to hold on to their nerves and end with a 78-75 victory. Vishesh Bhriguvanshi scored a game high 23 points. Angola's leading scorers were the duo of Santos Hermeniecnldo (17) and Lucas Edmir (16).

The semi-finals were next, held on Republic Day in India, against Cape Verde. It was a see-saw battle as the two teams exchanged several leads and were tied at 43 by the end of the third quarter. India finally found their shooting touch in the crucial fourth period while staying sharp on the defensive end to run away to a 67-52 win. Angola won the Men's other semi-final over Mozambique.

In a rematch of the group stage, India once again survived to clinch the basketball gold in the Final. "This was an opportunity to do something that may never come around again for a long time," said India's Head Coach Scott Flemming, "We were able to win a gold medal competing in an international tournament in our own country. I am really proud of these players. It was a great team effort."

The Women's basketball tournament didn't feature a knockout stage, but was decided between the four teams (India, Angola, Mozambique, Macau) in a round-robin league. India's young side - playing without experienced senior players and led mostly by under-21 talents - were led by Head Coach Francisco Garcia.

One of the biggest bright young talents in India is Kerala's Jeena PS, and she showed why with a dominating 26 point performance in India's opening game win against Macau. India took a massive 39-10 lead early and never slowed down. Firing from all cylinders, India raced to an easy 110-45 victory. Priti Kumari (17) and Rajapriyadarshini Rajaganapathi (16) added to India's scoring onslaught.

Angola and Mozambique were both finalists in the recent FIBA Africa Women's championship, and were both next on India's schedule. Dongue Leia of Mozambique scored 25 points to lead her team to an early lead over India which turned into a blowout by halftime. Mozambique came out as 92-46 victors.

India's final game was against Angola, and the young girls were determined to finish the tournament with a flourish. Led by Poojamol KS - who had a game-high 22 - India stayed neck to neck with Angola for the first three quarters, and were only down by one before the start of the final period. But Angola made all the right plays in the fourth to extend their lead and survive to notch a 66-58 victory. Merciana Fernandes scored 17 to lead the Angolan side.

Mozambique were the strongest women's squad and finished the tournament undefeated at top to secure the gold, while Angola got the silver medal and India had to settle for bronze.

Francisco Garcia, the Coach of India's Women, said, "We played good matches against Macau and Angola. I think against Mozambique we should have been tougher, but overall, really happy with the team’s performance because we were close to the silver medal and we were the youngest team in the competition."

The Basketball Federation of India's (BFI) CEO congratulated both the squads for their performance. "The hard work and training has paid of for Team Goa-India. They have made the country proud and have given India a new milestone in the game of basketball to remember."

Photo Credit: Ekalavyas.com
Get detailed results of the tournament via the BFI website here. More in-depth match reports and interviews with Coach Scott Flemming and Vishesh Bhriguvanshi can be found on Ekalavya Posts.

India's participation in the tournament provided the teams with some much needed practice and exposure. This year, while Men and Women Under-18 teams will play in the U18 FIBA Asia Championships, the Senior squads may also have a chance to participate in the basketball tournament at the 17th Asian Games, set to be held in Incheon, Korea from September 20 - October 3.

Lusofonia Games Basketball Final Standings

  • 1. India
  • 2. Angola
  • 3. Mozambique
  • 1. Mozambique
  • 2. Angola
  • 3. India

January 27, 2014

Playoff Blues: The NBA’s top five players to have never made a playoff appearance

The NBA would be a whole different world if legacies and greatness was measured on the performance of the regular season alone. Unfortunately for many – it isn’t. The regular season is just heating up the oven and aligning of the positions, the real fun and games begin with the playoffs. Which is why no amount of All Star appearances or big stats can be a substitute for a role in a post-season game.

Here are NBA’s five best players at this very moment who – despite their talent and achievements – have yet to qualify for the playoffs.

Click here to read full feature.

January 26, 2014

The Greatest Knicks Ever

Breaking news: I'm a New York Knicks fan. And those who have followed my work over the years would probably know by now that I have a more than slight bias with all things orange and blue. The Knicks are one of the league's founding franchises, and are the only other team - along with the Boston Celtics - to be in the same city and form since the day the league began. Over the years, they've featured some great players, hosted some memorable moments at the legendary Madison Square Garden, and won two championships.

'Just' two championships - with the last one coming about 41 years ago.

So you can go ahead and get the laughs and scoffs out of your system. Yes, I know I support the perhaps the most underachieving NBA franchise of All Time, especially one that has been the laughingstock of the league for their awful play and worse management decisions for the majority of the incumbent last decade. Yes, I realize that the future looks as hazy as the past, and that being a Knicks fan is the modern form of self torture.

And despite everything, the Knicks are never short on those self-torturing fans. Nor are they short of history. 68 years of glorious and tormenting, wonderful and distressing, exciting and cruel, history.

Which is why what happened at the Garden on the night of January 24, 2013, was particularly astonishing. On this night, in a game against the Bobcats, Carmelo Anthony exploded for 62 points - 56 of them coming in just three quarters - before checking out of the game with over seven minutes still remaining in the final period. Apart from being a personal career high, Anthony's 62 was a franchise scoring record for the Knicks and a record for most points in the new MSG. Anthony grabbed 13 rebounds too for good measure, and shot a scintillating 65.7 percent from the field. No one in Knicks history has ever scored more points in a single game - and if the game had been closer, he could've ended up with 75 and 15.

This was only a random regular season game in January against the Bobcats and far from the greatest Knick performance ever (I give that honour to Walt Frazier's 36-19 in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals with a one-legged Willis Reed), but where does Melo rank amongst the list of the greatest New York Knicks ever? In three years, Anthony has helped the Knicks become playoff regulars again and even carried them to the second round for the first time in over a decade. During his time in New York, he has been an All Star every year, led the league in scoring last season, and was in the All NBA Second Team. He is the single reason why the Knicks are not the Bucks right now (but they're close!).

Over the last year or so, I've been brushing up on my Knickerbocker history, watching classic games and learning about the greatest eras and players thanks to my NBA Dynasty DVDs. In the back of my work notebook, I even scribbled my favourite Knicks of All Time, with the intention of writing a feature on the All Time Knick Roster one day.

Thanks to Anthony's performance, that day is finally here. Melo evoked history with his masterpiece, and so, into Knicks history he goes.

Here is my All Time Knicks team. I've ranked the greatest players by judging them in the following order: the team success they brought the Knicks, their individual peak as a Knick, and finally, by personal preference.

Starting Five

Walt Frazier My favourite Knick of All Time. One of the greatest two-way point-guards of All Time, 'Clyde' is a no-brainer at this spot. He marshaled the Knicks to their only two championships in 1970 and 1973, and was of course brilliant in the memorable Game 7 win over the Lakers when they won their first ever trophy. Frazier spent 10 years in New York and post retirement was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He is an 4x member of the All NBA First Team, a 7x All Star, and 7x member of the All NBA Defensive team. He's still around the Knicks every day as a broadcaster and also happens to be the very definition of cool. He's still the Knicks All-Time leader in assists.

Earl Monroe Call him 'Pearl', call him 'Jesus', or call him a legendary Baltimore Bullet, but Monroe only translated his cult status to team success after he joined the Knicks to form the 'Rolls Royce Backcourt' with Frazier in 1971. The Pearl was already a playground legend and an unstoppable superstar by his Baltimore days, and after a slow start, he quickly meshed in with Frazier to form one of the best backcourt combos ever - so of course, the two make my All Time backcourt here, too. Monroe won his only championship with the Knicks in 1973 and was an All Star in 1975 and 1977.

Carmelo Anthony Yes, I went there. Apologies to the history buffs, but Carmelo Anthony is the greatest scorer in Knicks history, closely overtaking Bernard King (whose 60-point was the previous franchise record). I understand that this is only Anthony's third full season with the team and he has yet to take the team past the second round of the playoffs, but his talent is too much to deny. See, most of the Knicks success came via teams comprising of decent-but-not-spectacular players. But few individuals stand out to be counted amongst the greatest. And to me, Anthony is already a top five Knick ever - and my starting small forward

Wills Reed While he played most of his best years with the Knicks as a Center, the 6-9 Reed will have to fill the power-forward slot in my fantasy team to make way for another special big man. But speaking of special, Reed's resume in Knick colours - where he spent all of his 10 year playing career - is as great as they come. Reed is the Knicks only ever MVP (1970), only ever Finals MVP (1970, 1973), their first rookie of the year (1965), and was also named in an All NBA and All Defensive First Team. The captain of the Knicks as they won both their titles, Reed is perhaps best known for heroically stumbling on court despite a severe thigh injury (voted as the MSG's greatest ever moment) in the Game 7 of the 1970 Finals. Of course, Reed also found his name into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Patrick Ewing Ewing was one game away from securing his legacy amongst the hall of champions, but a loss in Game 7 of the 1994 Finals kept him ringless. Regardless, Ewing - a former number one pick - basically owns the New York record book, as the Knicks All Time leader in points, rebounds, minutes, field goals, free throws, steals, and blocks. The Jamaican-American Center was a star on both ends of the floor. He played 15 years for the Knicks, becoming Rookie of the Year in 1986, making to the 1990 All NBA First team, and 11 All Star teams. In 1999, an underdog Knicks side became the first (and only) eighth-seed to make the NBA Finals, but Ewing got injured in the Conference Finals.


Dave DeBusschere DeBusschere was an icon with the Detroit Pistons in the mid 60s as their player-coach (the youngest ever). But it was when he traded to the Knicks in 1968, the bruising power-forward went from being a one-man wrecking crew to the final piece in the championship puzzle. DeBusschere played alongside Willis Reed in the frontcourt and helped the Knicks win their two titles. He was also an 8x All Star, 6x member of the All Defensive First Team, and a Hall of Famer.

Bernard King Think Carmelo Anthony, think Bernard King. One of the smoothest scorers of his time, King's career was cut short due to a devastating knee injury in 1985. But not before he etched his name amongst Knick greats. King played for the Knicks in 1982-87, led the league in scoring in 1985, and held the previous franchise scoring record by a Knick (60). He also made the All NBA First Team and All Star game twice each during his tenure in New York. Unfortunately - very much like Melo today - he could never take the Knicks deep into the Playoffs. King was recently added to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

John Starks No one has attempted or hit more three-pointers in a Knicks jersey than John Starks. And perhaps, no one has ever had more swag in a Knicks jersey than the undrafted guard, considered by many to be one of the game's great over-achievers. Starks was an ordinary player whose confidence led him to extraordinary things. He was part of the Knicks mean, defensive lineup in the 90s that peaked with an appearance in the 1994 Finals, where Starks was both hero and villain for New York. He played for the Knicks from 1990-98, was an All Star in 1994, and a 6th Man of the Year in 1997.

Charles Oakley 'Oak' is a throwback to the beautiful ugly days of NBA basketball, where meaner was better and defense was the best offense. A defensive specialist, the PF/Center played alongside Patrick Ewing to instill terror in every single opposing frontline. The team made it to the 1994 Finals, the same year Oakley was named to the All NBA Defensive First Team.

Allan Houston One of the silkiest shooting guards of his time, Houston was perhaps the Knicks de-facto best player as Ewing grew old and hurt when the squad made it to the 1999 Finals. Houston played for the Knicks from 1996-2005 and played for two All Star teams. But despite his talents, he his perhaps more notorious now for being handed one of the worst contracts in NBA history than for his skill-set!

Dick McGuire One of the first real superstar to sport a Knick jersey, McGuire played for the Knickerbockers from 1949-1957, leading them to the Finals three times (all losses) in the early 50s. McGuire led the league in assists in just his rookie season in 1950, and was one of the NBA's top playmakers the league's first decade. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1993.

Bill Bradley Before he was a Senator, Bill Bradley was a star forward for the Knicks, serving as the perfect glue to the Knicks selfless philosophy in the late 60s and early 70s that resulted in two championships and some entertaining team-first basketball. After starring in college and briefly playing in Italy, Bradley played for the Knicks from 1967-77, in a Hall of Fame career that spawned two titles and one All Star appearance.

Coach: Red Holzman Oh, but who else? Holzman was Knicks coach that masterminded the NBA's toughest defense and most selfless offense that won two championships in the early 70s. He stands as the longest-tenuring Knicks coach in history, was named amongst the top 10 coaches in NBA history, and is the only Knick coach to have his 'jersey retired'. Holzman was also elected to the Hall of Fame for his coaching work. If he could have an assistant, I'd choose Pat Riley.

Reserves: A special mention here to other Knick greats to not make the list above - Dick Barnett, Mark Jackson, Harry and Gallatin.

January 25, 2014

Punjab Police retain All India Police Games basketball title in Thrissur

Defending champions Punjab Police retained their basketball title at the 62nd All India Police Games with a win over hosts Kerala Police in the final at the Kerala Varma College in Thrissur on Friday. The four-day basketball tournament featured 25 state/unit police teams from all over the country.

The final was an evenly-contested affair between the Police teams from Punjab and Kerala. Kerala held on to a small lead half way into the third quarter, but Punjab surged to regain the advantage, and held on for a 79-69 victory. India's young international star Amrit Pal Singh led Punjab with 19 points, while Harminder Singh added 18 for the winners. Jomon Jose (27) and Shan A (21) had big games for Kerala but came out on the losing end.

CRPF took home the bronze medal after defeating BSF Jalandhar in a tightly-contested third-place game, 69-66.

January 24, 2014

2013-14 BFI-IMG Reliance College Basketball League tips off in Mumbai

After a successful start in Hyderabad, the BFI-IMG Reliance College Basketball League tipped off in the second city in India this season, Mumbai on Thursday, January 23rd. The league is being held in association with the Maharashtra Basketball Association.

In the same format as the recent school basketball leagues that are being held around India, the college league in Mumbai will also involved 10 Men's and 10 Women's teams. Mumbai is the second stop of the College League, which will be held in a record eight cities this season.

Mumbai's BFI-IMG Reliance College Basketball League - Participating Teams

  • Group A: Kishinchand Chellaram College of Arts, Science & Commerce (KC), Ramniranjan Jhunjhunwala College, Smt. MMK College of Commerce & Economics (MMK), Gurunanak Khalsa College of Arts, Science & Commerce (Khalsa), Maharashtra College of Arts, Science & Commerce (Maharashtra).
  • Group B: HR College of Commerce & Economics (HR), St. Xavier’s College, Veermata Jijabhai Technological Institute (VJTI), RA Podar College of Commerce & Economics (Podar), Dwarkadas J Sanghvi College of Engineering (DJ Sanghvi).
  • Group A: RA Podar College of Commerce & Economics (Podar), Ramnarain Ruia College (Ruia), HR College of Commerce & Economics (HR), Smt. MMK College of Commerce & Economics (MMK), Dwarkadas J Sanghvi College of Engineering (DJ Sanghvi).
  • Group B: Thakur College, St. Xavier’s College, Gurunanak Khalsa College of Arts, Science & Commerce (Khalsa), Veermata Jijabhai Technological Institute (VJTI), Sophia College For Women.

January 23, 2014

Basketball Tournament at Lusofonia Games begins: India's rosters, schedule, & preview

And just when we least expected it, India's back on the scene for some international basketball action!

In what is a new addition to India's basketball calendar, the men and women senior teams will be participating as hosts in the basketball tournament at the 3rd Lusofonia Games. The Games are being held from January 18-29th, with the basketball tournament scheduled from January 23-27th. The Basketball Federation of India (BFI) is also providing technical support at the event.

The Lusofonia Games are organized by the ACOLOP (Associação dos Comités Olímpicos de Língua Oficial Portuguesa). Because of Goa's historical Portuguese influence, India is an associate member of the Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking countries) and will participates in these games. 12 countries from four continents are taking part in nine different sports this year.

The basketball tournament is slated to be held at the Goa University Complex in Taleigao. India's Men's Head Coach Scott Flemming recently commented that the new basketball arena here is the best he has seen in India. Flemming will lead the Men's team and Spanish Coach Francisco Garcia will be at the helm of India's Senior Women. Both squads trained with the probables over the last week at the Don Bosco High School in Mathunga, Mumbai.

On Wednesday, BFI announced the final rosters for both teams representing India. India is entering the competition under the 'Goa-India' banner with Lusofonia rules requiring that a certain percentage of India's national team comprise of players from the state of Goa.

Here are the teams participating in Lusofonia Games basketball tournament:


Group A: Cape Verde, Mozambique, Macau (China).
Group B: India, Angola, Guinea Bissau.

Women: India, Angola, Mozambique, Macau (China).

India's basketball teams for Lusofonia Games

  • Amjyot Singh (IOB/Tamil Nadu)
  • Amrit Pal Singh (ONGC)
  • Riken Pethani (IOB/Tamil Nadu)
  • Joginder Singh (Services)
  • Pratham Singh (IOB/Tamil Nadu)
  • Vishesh Bhriguvanshi (ONGC)
  • Yadwinder Singh (ONGC)
  • Narender Grewal (Services)
  • Palpreet Singh (Punjab)
  • Sambhaji Kadam (Services)
  • Daley Fernandes (Goa)
  • Lambart Godiho (Goa)
  • Head Coach: Scott Flemming
  • Coach: Prasad Rama Linga
  • Rajapriyadarshini Rajaganapathi (Railways/Tamil Nadu) 
  • Stefy Nixon (Kerala) 
  • Jeena PS (Kerala) 
  • Smruthi Radhakrishman (Railways) 
  • Poojamol KS (Kerala)
  • Neenumol PS (Kerala) 
  • Sharanjeet Kaur (Chhattisgarh) 
  • Priti Kumari (Madhya Pradesh) 
  • Ishwari Pingle (Tamil Nadu) 
  • Shireen Limaye (Maharashtra) 
  • Nelvie Mendes (Goa) 
  • Kezia Fernandes (Goa) 
  • Head Coach: Francisco Garcia
  • Coach: Divya Singh
Lusofonia Games Basketball - India's Group Stage Schedule

  • January 23 - 6:00 PM - India vs. Guinea Bissau.
  • January 25 - 6:00 PM - Angola vs. India.
The two best teams from each group will qualify for the Men's Semi-Finals, which will be held on January 26th. The Finals are scheduled on January 27th.

  • January 24 - 4:00 PM - India vs. Macau (China).
  • January 25 - 4:00 PM - India vs. Mozambique.
  • January 26 - 2:00 PM - Angola vs. India.

The Women's competition is only a round robin, so the team with the best record after three games each will win the gold.

Apart from the new names joining the two teams to fill in the Goa quota, it seems that India is sending mostly full strength squads for both Men and Women divisions. Senior Men regulars like Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, Amjyot Singh, Amrit Pal Singh, Yadwinder Singh, and the veteran Sambhaji Kadam will be joined by several rising talents like Palpreet Singh and Narender Grewal. The Women's squad is much younger, without the dominant veterans like Geethu Anna Jose, Anitha Paul Durai, Prashanti Singh, or Akanksha Singh. Instead, it'll be up to a more youthful crop of talent led by Jeena PS, Poojamol KS, Smruthi Radhakrishnan, Sharanjeet Kaur, and Shireen Limaye to lead the way.

India shouldn't have any trouble against Guinea Bissau in the Men's team first game, but they will be challenged by Angola, who are Africa's most successful team and current FIBA Africa Champions. From Group A, India will probably face the toughest challenge from another African side, Mozambique.

Angola and Mozambique were the finalists in the most recent FIBA Africa Women's Championship, too, and both are ranked above India's Women in the FIBA World rankings. The game against Macau is winnable for India, but they will have to play at a much higher level to defeat the African nations.

January 21, 2014

FIBA's Technical Commission Meeting to be held in New Delhi on Jan 21-22

The brain-trust of world basketball is in New Delhi today.

The Basketball Federation of India (BFI) is hosting this year's FIBA Technical Commission Meeting this year, at the Lalit Hotel in New Delhi from January 21-22. FIBA is the world's governing body of basketball, India is hosting this meet for the first time ever. FIBA's top technical commission delegates and other dignitaries will be discussing several rules, regulations, and concerns concerning basketball around the world.

Patrick Baumann, the Secretary-General of FIBA, will be in India for the meetings. The visiting dignitaries will also include Fred Horgan (Chairman - FIBA Technical Commission) and Lubomir Kotleba (FIBA Sports Director).

According to the BFI, the FIBA Technical Commission will deliberate on several topics, including:
  • Governance of FIBA Referees and Commissioners
  • FIBA Internal Regulations
  • Licensing of FIBA Referees and Commissioners as of 2016
  • Psychological testing of referees
  • New FIBA teaching methods and materials
  • Code of Ethics for Basketball
Roopam Sharma, the CEO of the BFI, welcomed the FIBA dignitaries. "We wish to extend a warm welcome to all our guests from FIBA," she said, "We would also like to thank FIBA for reposing its faith in India as one of the fastest growing basketball playing nations and giving Basketball Federation of India the opportunity to host this magnificent event. I am sure that we will have a lot to learn as we go ahead and compete with various other sports."

January 20, 2014

ONGC (Men) and Southern Railway (Women) win 9th Savio Cup in Mumbai

Although they started as favourites to hold on to their title, Southern Railway had to battle till the very end and use every bit of their talent and experience to outlast the spirited hosts Maharashtra in the Women's final of the 9th Savio Cup on Saturday, January 18th, at the Don Bosco High School in Mathunga, Mumbai. Familiar foes ONGC and IOB met in the Men's title game, with ONGC continuing their hot stretch in recent tournaments to add another trophy to their glittering cabinet.

Photo Courtesy: Ekalavyas.com
The 9th Savio Cup tipped off in Mumbai on January 11th, featuring participation by seven Men's and four Women's squads. The tournament was sponsored by Tridhaatu Realty and Indian Oil.

Southern Railway were playing without superstar Geethu Anna Jose and hadn't been their usual convincing selves, after already dropping a game to their final opponents Maharashtra earlier in the tournament. Maharashtra on the other hand have been enjoying a string of relative success in their Women's division. In the Final, Maharashtra - led by Manisha Dange - wanted to stamp in their authority and a dominant first half saw them go into the break with a 33-19 lead. Southern Railway fought back in the third period, and a back-to-back fourth quarter finally saw them take the lead in the game's last minutes. Southern Railway inched ahead to survive for a 67-62 victory behind 19 points by Apoorva Murlinath. Dange had 30 for Maharashtra in a losing effort.

ONGC (Uttarakhand) were back in the Final after losing to American side Sportspower USA in the previous edition of the tournament. With Chennai's IOB starting off on the right foot, it seemed like ONGC would face a final defeat once again. But they fought back to take a halftime lead, and then completely dominate proceedings in the game's second half en route to a 70-52 victory. Veterans Trideep Rai (22) and Yadwinder Singh (19) were the game's leading scorers.

Photo Courtesy: Ekalavyas.com
The Men's winning side were rewarded Rs. 1.5 lakhs and the runners-up were given Rs. 65,000. For Women, the winning side was given Rs. 50,000 and runners-up Rs. 25,000.

Sportspower returned this year without the former NBA players who helped them lift the title last year. Their roster was short this year, so two Indian players - Vinay Kaushik and Prakash Mishra - were added to the team. Ex-NBA player David Wood was supposed to be a part of the team but didn't make it. Jahaziel Howard - the younger brother of NBA star Dwight Howard - came to Mumbai as part of Sportspower's roster.

January 17, 2014

The Brains of Basketball: Interview with Krossover's Vasu Kulkarni

Every young basketball aspirant reaches a point when they have to make perhaps the most important career decision of their life: Do I keep on this tough and unlikely path of hoops to see where it leads me professionally? Or do I quit the game now and come back to 'real life', for a white collar profession with occasional pick-up hoops to keep the hobby alive?

When Vasu Kulkarni faced that moment, he did what few people do: he chose both options.

LA-born Kulkarni was raised in India but returned to the States after High School. An aspiring young player with hoop dreams - who actually learned the trades of his craft in Bangalore - Kulkarni wanted to stick with basketball even when doing that dream seemed to be getting out of reach. So he used the creativity he picked up on court and applied it off the court. In 2010, Kulkarni's company Krossover - featuring a service that breaks down game-tape to expose advanced data and analytics - went live. Four years later, Krossover has become a game-changer in the field, and Kulkarni's pet project is now working with America's top high school, college, and some professional coaches and breaking down hundreds of games every day.

Currently, Krossover is providing services for around 2000 clients in basketball, American football, and lacrosse, with a diversity of customers including the Cleveland Cavaliers, University of Kentucky, Georgetown, the D-League's Springfield Armor, Amherst College, and St. Anthony's High School. The 27-year-old Kulkarni's company is growing every day in their clients, services, and freelances contributors from across the US. Most importantly, Krossover's heart - or brain - is rooted to the love of the game, and with the purpose of making everyone involved in basketball a lot smarter.

I got a chance to interview Kulkarni, the CEO of Krossover, about the influence of India on his basketball addiction, the birth, growth, and ambitions of Krossover, and about bringing it all back to potentially contributing to hoops in India.

Hoopistani: So tell me about your background - you were raised in Bangalore?

Kulkarni: I was born in LA, but my family moved back to India when I was nine. I lived in Bangalore till age 18, and then came back to the States for college, and have been here since for the past nine years.

Hoopistani: And when did you start taking basketball seriously?

Kulkarni: I've always loved basketball. My earlier memory in life was watching Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan at the '91 Finals between the Lakers and Bulls on TV. Even when I was just a toddler, I must've watched a lot of hoops since my babysitter was a huge NBA fan! But I didn't play too much basketball in the States: I was an awful athlete, and in the US, I felt like a small fish in a big pond. Ironically, I had to go to India to really learn the game.

In India, I was one of the taller guys and suddenly became a big fish in basketball's small pond. I might have never picked up the game had it not been in India, where I started to improve a lot and made it to my High School team in Bangalore.

I moved back to the States to the University of Pennsylvania, and after playing well in India, I assumed that I could easily play D1 basketball. Of course, the reality was a lot different and more difficult than that. It took me a while to find my place playing basketball in the States, and I had learn the game in a more enhanced way again. In my senior year, I got a tryout with Penn's JV team and made it. That was - and still is - the highlight of my life. Playing for a team, having a locker room, wearing the jerseys, and hearing the national anthem before a game: it was a wonderful experience.

Hoopistani: Was that experience the building block for Krossover?

Kulkarni: Well, even after college, I wanted to remain involved in sports; nothing else could make me happy. I wanted to build a technology for sports teams. Wanted to do something in analytics. After some on-field research, and after taking some time figuring out our pricing scheme, I was able to develop what type of product basketball teams needed to use.

Hoopistani: The advanced stats and analytics revolution has taken over basketball in a big way in the last few years. But when Krossover started out, you must have been one of the first dipping your nose in the field.

Kulkarni: Well, Synergy were really the pioneers of advanced stats. They were ahead of their time, but no one else was really thinking about advanced stats or analytics four or five years ago. And a lot of other companies couldn't figure out anything new to do with basketball. We have been able to incorporate stats in basketball and a few other sports to make it useful in the same way as it is in baseball.

Hoopistani: With basketball though, unlike baseball, I feel there will always be room for a lot more creativity that can't be 'statified' the same way...

Kulkarni: Yes. As someone selling the product, I obviously want more stats, but as a fan of the game, I wish that the game remains much more than just numbers. When it comes down to it, basketball players are so crafty and creative that their tendencies can never be as predictable as baseball players, for example.

Hoopistani: Krossover got a major boost last year by adding the Cleveland Cavaliers as one of the clients...

Kulkarni: The deal with the Cavs has of course been a great boost for us: we breakdown every NCAA Division 1 game every day, so now, scouts from the Cavs can look at all of their prospects in depth. I think an advantage of Krossover is that it is really easy to use and so NBA scouts feel comfortable with it. The Cavs can use it to breakdown and analyze NBA players too and use the knowledge to make trades - like they did with Luol Deng a few weeks ago.

But the real value of our service comes from lower levels that the NBA, from the NCAA or from High School basketball. All of our NCAA clients closely examine the High School level games we breakdown - which are around 600 every day! So our service becomes great value for money for scouts instead of flying all over the country to watch all of those games.

Hoopistani: How many teams are you currently working with?

Kulkarni: We are closing in on around 2000 High School and College teams - 85 percent of our clients are High School teams. The US has the most organized senior sports programmmes in the world, so we have a potential for a lot more expansion, and we aim to get up to 10, 20, or even 30 thousand clients in the next two to three years.

Hoopistani: It's great to see the company grow so dramatically, especially since, I guess when it began the entire project was manned by you alone...

Kulkarni: In 2009, Krossover had one person on their staff-list: me. Then, there were two more. Two or three times, it seemed that things were going to die out and Krossover would never make it. But we survived and grew, and now we have grown to 40-50 people working at the New York office. But the chunk of the breakdown is provided by 2000 or so people who live around the country. These people are not employees but earn money for each game they break down by taking recording of games from their local teams. We will probably process breakdowns of 50,000 games this season.

Hoopistani: What are the objectives for growth in the future? Will you be looking to bring in more clients from the NBA?

Kulkarni: The NBA stuff is nice, particularly from a marketing standpoint, but to us, a High School team is just as valuable. We wanna change the way people think about the game. We want to get to 6000 teams - three times our current number - by the end of this year. After basketball, American football, and lacrosse, we will also be expanding to volleyball soon.

We've created an app called SIQ (sports IQ) to test the knowledge of fans via video quizzes, too. [Kulkarni described the app here in this video for Grantland last year].

Hoopistani: Lets bring the story to where it began. Have you been keeping track of basketball in India?

Kulkarni: I was back in India to take part in the Mahindra NBA Challenge in Bangalore, where we put together a team that won the whole thing! I feel that the level of competition in India is still low: any team off the street in the US could win a tournament like that in India. I've spoken to NBA people and others in India and feel that there is a lot of frustration about the slow bureaucracy and red-tape in the country. They need to pursue greater efforts in the grassroots - like the efforts of Subhash Mahajan in Karnataka. The aim should be all about getting kids in India passionate about that round orange ball.

India needs to invest its money on infrastructure; I feel that's what happened in China to support basketball there. I hope that one day the game can become a bigger part of the culture and way of life there.

Hoopistani: Do you think Krossover could ever contribute in basketball or other sports in India?

Kulkarni: We can make it happen anywhere if games are filmed with half-decent cameras. That's all we need!

January 16, 2014

Cager Watch: 10 Indian basketball players to watch in 2014

Indian basketball is slowly arriving at a turning point, where the next generation of young talents now have better coaching, opportunity, and facilities than ever before to keep the established stars at the tip of their toes. For both veterans of the game with dozens of international appearances or newcomers ready to burst out and turn heads, 2014 will be an important year to prove their place in the system as attention on the game increases.

Through the course of 2014, the only major international opportunities for India will be the FIBA Asia U18 Men and Women tournaments later this year. India's Senior Men and Women teams will also be taking part at the basketball tournament in the Lusofonia Games next week. But domestically, India's top men and women players will be involved in various tournaments around the year, including the Basketball Federation of India's (BFI) national championships, prestigious invitational tournaments like the Savio Cup, the Ramu Memorial Basketball Tournament, and more.

Here - in last name alphabetic order - are 10 Indian basketball players to watch for 2014.

Kavita Akula

Akula, a wily young point guard from Chhattisgarh, was part of the original eight students chosen for the IMG Academy scholarship four years ago. The youngster has blossomed into an important player for state and country since. She was the MVP of last year's Junior National Championship for Chhattisgarh's gold medal winning team, and could make a difference at both junior and senior levels this year. She is also likely to play a major part for India's U18 Women's squad. Three years ago, she was one of leading assist-makers in Asia at the U16 FIBA Asia Championship.

Loveneet Singh Atwal

Punjabi guard Loveneet Singh is a little ball of energy. Loveneet has starred for India at various senior and youth levels, including FIBA Asia's U18 3x3 championship last year and was one of the youngest players in India's senior team as well. As the baton is passed to the next generation, expect this exciting, high-octane guard to be a major part of that future.

Satnam Singh Bhamara

If you're in the obscure minority of Indian basketball fans who haven't heard of Bhamara, read up. The talented 18-year-old 7-footer from a small village in Punjab is currently learning the game at the IMG Academy in Florida, USA. Because of his combination of size, skill, and youth, Bhamara has been India's most tantalizing male talent in ages. Depending on his IMG schedule, he will be back for India's senior national and under-18 championships representing Punjab, and leading them close to glory again. But his big moment might come later this year at the FIBA Asia U18 Championship. Three years ago - he was the most devastating force in Asia at Nha Trang City at the U16 FIBA ABC. Could he be India's hope for a knockout round appearance this year?

Vishesh Bhriguvanshi

Bhriguvanshi could have been a part of this list for a decade. The Varanasi-born slasher broke out as a young star and was quickly promoted to captain of India's Senior national team. He is still the captain, and still one of India's most talented players. Now in the prime of his career, Bhriguvanshi will likely have another stellar year for ONGC and Uttarakhand. He is the center of ONGC's unstoppable squad, and has already led to a Federation Cup win with an MVP performance. Expect big things from him in the current Savio Cup, the Lusofonia Games, and other domestic tournaments.

Poonam Chaturvedi

Poonam Chaturvedi - who plays for Chhattisgarh - stands as India's tallest Women's basketball player, perhaps ever! The 18-year-old Chaturvedi picked up the game late in her life, but under the tutelage of Rajesh Patel in Chhattisgarh, she has taken quick strides to improvement. Now, she is the centerpiece of Chhattisgarh's Senior and Junior Women's teams. She was one of the stars for Chhattisgarh as they won the Junior Nationals last year and also in last week's Federation Cup victory in Ahmedabad. She will likely be chosen for India's Lusofonia Games squad, too, and will surely be part of India's squad at the U18 FIBA Asia Championship.

Bhandavya HM

Karnataka's up-and-comer Bhandavya HM wasn't a big name outside of her state until she was chosen for India's U16 side and became the team's most consistent performer last year. Bhandavya will be graduating to the Junior national team for the FIBA tournament this year.

Geethu Anna Jose

Jose is synonymous with Indian basketball, and a lifelong member of any 'players to watch' list in India. Jose has been India's best player every year for over 10 years internationally and has been one of the few Indians to stand neck-to-neck against Asia's finest. Domestically, there is only one rule in India's Women's basketball: whichever team Geethu is on will win. Born in Kerala, Geethu is the only Indian player to earn a WNBA trial and has played professionally in Australia and Thailand. She has led Southern Railway or Indian Railways to dozens of club or national level tournaments. The only thing that could stop Geethu in 2014 is Geethu herself: after her marriage, she has hinted that she is thinking about retiring from the national team. But as long as she plays, she will still be the best.

Mahipal Singh

With massive performances in every game, India's campaign at the U16 FIBA Asia Championship last year was mostly a one-man show, and that man was 16-year-old Mahipal Singh. This year, Singh will be looking to capitalize on his big performances with a go with the U18 team, and a chance to turn heads again. Domestically, he'll have to be the backbone for Rajasthan as they try and compete amongst much stronger sides around the country.

Smruthi Radhakrishnan

Now a regular India senior international, Maharashtra's Smruthi Radhakrishnan was the MVP of last week's Federation Cup, as she helped her team secure a silver medal. She will get a chance to show her best at the international level at the Lusofonia Games and at the William Jones Cup - if India are invited this year. Back home, she will he hoping to join hands with Shireen Limaye to bring Maharashtra Women glory in the National championship.

Amjyot Singh

Punjab's Amjyot Singh has been a revelation. The lanky power forward was a relative unknown until a few years ago, when he broke out with Kenny Natt's Indian squad, and continued the form with big performances for the national squad ever since. Amjyot is now a permanent starting fixture for Team India, and was the squad's leading rebounder at the most recent FIBA Asia Championship. India will rely on his size and finesse once again at the Lusofonia Games. Domestically, he's currently representing IOB and Tamil Nadu. Look for this being the year when he breaks out to become the most valuable player in India.

January 15, 2014

Homecoming: Inderbir Gill brings his basketball knowledge back to India

While India is yet to produce a world-class basketball talent, there have been several Indian-origin players who have had some measure of success in foreign leagues or with colleges. And in many cases, a number of these players have expressed the desire to look to the country of their origin and contribute to the game. Of course, India has more complex rulings about the naturalization of foreign players, and so many of the playing dreams have been incomplete.

Inderbir Gill, who was born in Punjab and immigrated to the USA at age 11 and went on to become a basketball star Northern University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC), had those dreams, too. In 2011, Gill was named the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association (CCAA) Player of the Year. A few months later, he spoke to me about his intentions to returns to his parents' homeland.

"I am a proud Indian and to represent India and to wear India’s basketball jersey would be the greatest honour for me," Gill said, "Basketball is on the rise in India and it would be great to be a part of it."

That vision didn't materialize, but Gill has found another way of contributing to the growth of Indian hoops over the past few months.

Gill is currently holding an internship position with the Basketball Federation of India (BFI), working with India's national coaches on the field and travelling across the country - from Chhattisgarh to Delhi to Gujarat - to track and train young talent. He has been in India since November and his internship - part of the Masters degree in Athletics Leadership that he is currently pursuing with the University of Washington - will stretch out till April.

Gill has worked primarily with India's two foreign national team coaches, Scott Flemming (Men) and Francisco Garcia (Women). He travelled with Garcia, Strength and Conditioning Coach Zak Penwell, and Assistant and former player Divya Singh to hold a basketball camp in Bhilai (Chhattisgarh) starting late November 2013, where he helped train over 50 players from the ages of 6-20. He worked with India's national-level under-14 boys and girls at a camp in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, along with Coach Scott Flemming. And he was also at the Federation Cup in Ahmedabad a couple of weeks ago, watching over India's top talent.

"My schedule has been pleasantly hectic with travels to several camps in the time that I have been here," Gill said, "The best part of my trip has been meeting all the players, the coaches, and the support staff. There is a lot of talent here that just needs the right support and teaching to flourish. It feels great to be contributing towards the future of this game and towards skills development and future of these young talented players."

Gill has been in the unique position to learn from two great coaching minds while teaching to other coaches and young players at the same time. "I have learned a lot from both of the coaches [Flemming and Garcia] in my short time so far. I have not yet had the time to fully reflect on all of the experiences, but that will hopefully happen by the end of the internship! They have differing styles, of course: Coach Flemming's style is American, while Coach Garcia's style is European. The styles reflect somewhat different philosophies but both coaches have been very successful. Despite the differences, they both emphasize the importance of basketball fundamentals and paying attention to detail during the plays."

Gill was born in 1987 in the city of Hoshiarpur in North Punjab. He still has family near Jalandhar. In 1998, when he was just 11 years old, Gill's family left India and immigrated to the United States. They settled in the city of Spokane in Washington State in 2000. It was here that he was first introduced to basketball and the hoops journey took off: Gill used his quickness and natural instincts to master the game and was soon selected for his high school basketball team. From there on, the 6-foot point guard got better every year, leading eventually to his starring years at UNBC.

In UNBC, he was a perfect fit, leading the team to their best-ever finish at the National Tournament in his first season (4th), and being named in the BCCAA first team all star. A year later came the glory - UNBC went 17-1 over the course of the season, finishing at the top of the conference table. Gill was named the CCAA Male Athlete of the Year across all sports, but saved his best for the CCAA National Tournament. Behind 32 points and 6 assists by Gill, UNBC won the CCAA National Championship, and Gill was named the tournament's MVP. A year later, the CCAA recognised him as Player of the Year.

Gill only returned to India twice after immigrating, but this internship has rekindled that long-lost relationship with the country of his birth.

"It's been a lot of fun for me," he says, "I have enjoyed working with the kids: they really want to learn and put in a lot of hours in improving their game."

But India - as we all know - still has a long way to go.

"The camp in Chhattisgarh was a great platform for the players to show their skills and learn. I feel that the players really worked hard but lacked resources, such as proper training facility (the court was too slippery and dangerous to play on), shoes, and basketballs. They spent a great deal of the day (about 6-8 hours) practicing, which I felt is too long for practices and not appropriately utilized. We encouraged them to pay attention to details and to the basketball fundamentals."

"The most shocking and surprising thing for me has been how slow things progress in India," he added, "It is frustrating to see how laziness is delaying the progress of basketball."

"If I could change a few things about basketball in India, I would create an academy where all the national players can practice and be coached all year around. It is evident that our players don't get enough training from experienced or highly qualified coaches which is impeding their success and the growth of basketball in this country."

Gill has his own coaching ambitions of course, and perhaps, even after his internship ends, he will continue to have an eye on progress in India.

"I hope to learn as much as I can about the game of basketball, about the operations of sports, about leadership, and about coaching this amazing game. I have a deep passion for basketball and for working with young players and contributing to their skills development," Gill said. "Being born and raised in India, I do feel a need to give back to this wonderful country and contribute to its development. Sports not only brings people from diverse backgrounds together but also provides a platform for individuals to improve as humans beings and learn the skills of hard work, motivation, working towards a unified goal, and team work--to name a few. Additionally, with our nation's youth being misguided by drugs and lack of activity, sports is a great way to keep the mind, the body, and the society a healthier place."

Gill's story and current involvement with the game is encouraging on various levels. It is great that young basketball players see someone who spent over a decade of his life growing up and India, discovered the game late, and was able to capitalize on the opportunities he received abroad to have a stellar college career. Gill is proof that other Indians can excel in basketball too if they put in the hard work and if India can provide them similar opportunities to the ones he received.

His internship with the BFI will also be an example to others who want to give back to the game in India. Basketball in India is still in its relative infancy, and it can use all the help it can get.

Gill has been truthful about the problems that plague the system, but he was also clear that "the basketball makes up for everything." More importantly, he sees real potential in the future.

"Yes, there is a lot of potential in the young players," he said, "I was impressed with the enthusiasm of the under 14 camp participants and their determination to improve. But, it is important that they keep working hard, and are focused on being properly trained."

January 14, 2014

Vijaya Bank (Men) & Eastern Railway (Women) win 2014 JCI Basketball Tournament at Athirampuzha

Kolkata's outfit Eastern Railway capitalized their unexpected run with a final victory over Assumption College (Changanacherry) to win the 5th JCI All India Invitational Basketball Tournament, held in Athirampuzha in Kottayam district, Kerala on January 12th. In the Men's Final that followed, Bangalore's outfit Vijaya Bank blew out Customs (Chennai) for a resounding victory.

Eastern Railway trailed by two points at halftime of the Women's Final, but turned things around behind a strong effort by Sukurmoni Oran (22) to take the lead over Assumption and fight to a 62-55 win.

In the Men's game, Vijaya's Bank star Aravind was on fire, scoring 31 points to lead the rout over Customs. Vijaya Bank had a 42-22 lead at halftime and cruised to a 72-44 win.

Special guests at the finale - held at Athirampuzha St Aloysius Basketball Stadium - including Kerala's Forest Transport, Sports, Environment, and Cinema Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, MP Jose K Mani, Mons Joseph, Suresh Kurup, NBA-certified coach Jim Coronna , ex India international gootballer IM Vijayan, and India international basketball player CV Sunny.

ONGC (Men) and Central Railway (Women) won the JCI basketball tournament last year.

January 13, 2014

Boogie Cousins - The People's Champion - wants Indians to make him an All Star

Kings' Center DeMarcus 'Boogie' Cousins is the most interesting guy in the league, the 2013-14 MVP, and also the bearer of complete joy and peace, and you can't tell me otherwise.

Here are some numbers if you're not convinced:
  • Cousins has the league's highest usage rate (33.2 percent)
  • He's averaging career highs in points (23.3), rebounds (11.5 - fifth in the league), assists (3.1), steals (1.9), and field goal percentage (49.4 percent).
  • He's third in the league in points/100 possessions (35.31), behind only these two guys: Kevin Durant and LeBron James.
  • He has the fifth-best Player Impact Estimate in the League, behind just Durant, LeBron, Chris Paul, and Kevin Love.
  • He's tied for third in the league in points in the paint.
  • He's also leading the league in the all-important category of technical fouls (10), becoming the obvious heir apparent to Rasheed Wallace. With all the points, domination, and potential for crazy, Boogie is must-watch TV.
  • And in case you were wondering, yes he also leads the league in total fouls committed at time of writing (135).
  • The Kings still suck, but not as bad as they used to. With Cousins' improvement this year plus the addition of Rudy Gay and more roster movement, this team is looking at a 30-win season for the first time in about six years.
  • Cousins says things like, "Some guys are All Stars because their team is good. That’s not an All Star."
  • He wants to be the first big to take part in the All Star Skills Challenge. Which will be awful and incredible at the same time.
  • LeBron James thinks that Cousins is an All Star. And LeBron is the self-proclaimed 'Chosen One'. The Chosen One Has Chosen.
  • He was Santa Claus on a bicycle.

In a league where big men are going extinct or rediscovering themselves primarily as defensive specialists, DeMarcus Cousins is a throwback to the not-so-distant past, a big and bulky man in the middle who dominates the post and gives us flashbacks of Shaq. Within a year or two, he's going to be the best Center in the league.

But is he an All Star this season?

Never mind the fact that the West front-court is loaded with more talented (and popular, since voting matters) players like Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, and more. There is at least one very influential person who thinks that Boogie Cousins deserves to be an All Star this season. And this person is asking you - the Indian basketball fan - to do something about it.

Mumbai-born Vivek Ranadive became the first Indian owner of an NBA team when he purchased the Kings over the summer. Ranadive has since helped keep the team in Sacramento, change the culture of the organization, and sprinkled in some Indian elements to appeal to the audience back home. He has also handed Cousins a contract extension, making him the sure-shot face of the franchise for the next several years, and also had dreams of making his big man into a star in India.

Now, Ranadive has released this amazing video appealing to fans in India to vote Cousins into the 2014 NBA All Star game.


Aaaahhhh so much goodness. To quote a classic movie from the late 90s, "Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can't take it, and my heart is just going to cave in." The fake Taj Mahal backdrop, the Boogie highlights, and of course, a special appearance by the man himself in the very end, adding a 'Namaste India' as part of his humble appeal. How could you - citizens of all countries in the world - not vote for him after watching this?

Appealing to the Indian audience is smart: India has the world's second-largest population, and if a fraction of them can be convinced by Ranadive's mission, they can pour in thousands and thousands of extra votes for the mercurial big man. China, another billion-plus country, dominates NBA All Star voting by its sheer numbers, which is why Yao Ming (who is Chinese) was an All Star nearly every season and Jeremy Lin (who has Chinese grandparents) has more votes than Harden, Westbrook, Parker, or Lillard. Of course, unlike the Chinese, the majority of Indians barely care about the NBA. And as far as we know, Cousins doesn't have any Indian origins. So, don't expect there to be a revolution of Indian All Star voting.

Or maybe this image will change your mind?

Keep boogying, Boogie.