December 31, 2018

2018: The Year in Indian Basketball

India is complicated: that is not breaking news. There are goods and there are bads, there are opportunities and risks, there is optimism in the horizon and pessimism that lurks in the dark corners.

And basketball in India, of course, is a microcosm of the country itself: complicated, topsy-turvy, and often undefinable. Indian basketball in 2018 positive results, negative news, losses (lots of losses), and big wins that signalled bleak hope from the future from alternative sources. Here's a look back at the year's biggest highlights:

- University of Calicut completed an incredible three-peat at India's most prestigious national women's collegiate title - the 2018 All India Inter University Women's Basketball Championship for Women - in Chennai in the beginning of the year.

- A couple of rivalries - some old, some new - were reignited at the biggest stage in domestic Indian basketball during the finals of the 2018 Senior National Basketball Championship for Men and Women at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai. The tournament, featuring the finest teams and players in the country, came to a conclusion with big victories for Indian Railways (Women) and hosts Tamil Nadu (Men), both of whom lifted championship trophies with victories over Chhattisgarh and Services respectively.

- The basketball tournament at the first-ever Khelo India School Games (KISG) in February was won by Kerala (Girls) and Punjab (Boys) at the KD Jadhav Indoor Hall at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in New Delhi.

- Three Indian players - Sejin Mathew, Princepal Singh, and Pushpa Senthil Kumar - were among 43 prospects, ranging in age from 16-18, from 36 countries around the world for the Basketball Without Borders camp at the 2018 NBA All Star Weekend in Los Angeles, USA in mid February.

- And at the 18th Asian Games Invitational Tournament 5x5 Basketball Test Event in Jakarta in mid February, India's Senior Men's team lost in the gold medal game to hosts Indonesia.

- Indian basketball descended into turmoil in late February when an alleged "clerical error" by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) disqualified two of India's top players - Amjyot Singh and Amritpal Singh - from taking part in FIBA World Cup Qualifiers in Bengaluru, despite both players having returned to India from their pro leagues in the NBA G-League and NBL Australia respectively. Without those two and the injured guard Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, India lost both games to Jordan and Lebanon at home and fell to 0-4 in the qualifiers.

- Indian basketball stars Amjyot Singh and Jeena Scaria were honoured at the Times of India Sports Awards 2018.

- First-timers in the Asian circuit, Australia, routed hosts China in the final to win gold at the delayed FIBA U16 Asian Championship in Foshan in early April. India finished last among the 13 participating teams.

- Over the weekend on April 14-15, Australia's Women and Men both won their respective finals at the 2018 Commonwealth Games Basketball tournament in impressive fashion at home. India returned from Australia losing all their games in both Men and Women's divisions.

- In early May, former Lakers center (now with the Bucks) Brook Lopez visited India to promote youth basketball development initiatives for the NBA.

- With Lopez in attendance, the youth teams from Bengaluru and Delhi won the girls and boys (respective) Jr. NBA National Finals in Greater Noida to qualify for the Jr. NBA World Championship later in the year.

- In a battle of 3x3 basketball rights, the Basketball Federation of India announced a controversial ban of 3x3 players hoping to participate in national 5x5 basketball events, and vice versa. This was done primarily to thwart the growing clout of the FIBA-approved 3BL basketball league announced earlier in the year.

- Out of a tryout of 50, eight players were chosen to join the existing contingent of the NBA India Academy in Greater Noida

- In the final of the 32nd Federation Cup National Basketball Tournament in Chittoor in early May, IOB (Chennai) exorcised years of demons against the dominant ONGC squad to win a memorable title, ending ONGC's five-year run at the top. In the women's final, Kerala's young squad added another feather to their cap, defeating neighbours Tamil Nadu in the final.

- Rajesh Patel, the most-decorated coach in Indian basketball, passed away in early May. I wrote an obituary on The Times of India Sports.

- In mid May, at the 69th Junior National Basketball Championship for Men and Women in Ludhiana, Punjab, Tamil Nadu (Women) and Kerala (Men) celebrated with the title, after impressive victories in their respective finales.

- NBA Academy India held a first-ever Women's camp in Greater Noida from May 27-29. Sanjana Ramesh of Bengaluru and Vaishnavi Yadav from Allahabad were named the camp's Co-MVPs.

- The 2018 Basketball Without Borders Asia Camp was held in India for just the second time from May 29-June 1. The fourth and final day of BWB Asia 2018 concluded in thrilling fashion as the 66 campers from 16 countries and territories in Asia-Pacific competed in championship games and a pair of All-Star games. India's Sanjana Ramesh shone among the continent's best and was named women's MVP.

- The BFI made controversy again by banning two of India's star players - Amjyot Singh and Palpreet Singh - from Indian basketball for a year citing "indisciplinary activities".

- Two more games. Two more losses. India's ill-fated road to the 2019 Basketball World Cup ended with road losses to Syria and Jordan. They finished 0-6 in the First Round.

- Khelo India announced in July that 40 young basketball players had been selected for talent development scholarship.

- New Zealand won 2018 William Jones Cup for Women in Chinese Taipei (July 25-29); India (0-5) finished last.

- The inaugural Jr. NBA World Championship was held in Florida, USA, from August 7-12. US Central won both boys and girls divisions. India's junior teams also took part.

- The most talented and dominant team of India's inaugural 3x3BL - Delhi Hoopers - took home the crown after six rounds of the league's first season, displaying their command over opponents and showcasing the exciting rise of 3x3 basketball in the country.

- The first Indian player to ever be drafted into the NBA, Satnam Singh made another first, joining the St. John's Edge of Canada's NBL this season.

- China swept across all categories of basketball at the 2018 Asian Games, winning gold in the Men's, Women's, 3x3 Men's, and 3x3 Women's events in Jakarta. India's women took part and returned winless.

- At the 35th Youth National Basketball Championship for Boys and Girls, held in Udaipur, Rajasthan in the first week of October, Rajasthan (Boys) and Punjab (Girls) emerged as champions.

- Also in October, seven-time NBA champ Robert Horry made his second trip to India to celebrate start of new NBA season.

- India hosted the 2018 FIBA Asia U18 Championship for Women in Bengaluru from October 28 - November 3. 16 of the top teams in the Asia and Oceania took part, divided into higher (Division A) and lower (Division B) sections. China's U18 team raced to grab the the gold medals. And for the third time in various women's FIBA Asia events, India - starting in Division B - played a perfect tournament to win promotion to Division A.

- Uttar Pradesh (Boys) and Maharashtra (Girls) win 2018 Sub Junior Nationals in Kangra (Himachal Pradesh) in mid November.

- Undisturbed by the drama back home, Indian star Amjyot Singh returned to OKC Blue of the NBA G-League for second season.

- Mr. UTEP 2-Step Tim Hardaway visited India to promote the growth of basketball and NBA India's recently announced McDonald’s NBA-themed promotion.

- Sanjana Ramesh (17), already enjoying a stellar year, made history by becoming only the second Indian to receive scholarship from NCAA Division 1 programme - Northern Arizona - which she will join in fall 2019.

- Zarkawt BCA won season 5 of Mizoram Super League in Aizawl, making it their second win in two editions of the tournament in the same year. Once again, Mizo basketball legend Lalrina Renthlei was named MVP.

- The year ended on a high: the NBA officially announced that India will host their first-ever preseason games, in Mumbai, in October 2019. The games will feature the Indiana Pacers and the Sacramento Kings and are bound to become a flagship moment in the history of basketball/NBA in the country.

The NBA India Games will surely be the most anticipated event for the game in 2019, but there will be FIBA Asia events and more individual achievements for India to look forward to. Hopefully, there is less drama and more focus on the growth of the game to meet India's potential!

Hoopdarshan Episode 72: Sanjana Ramesh on upcoming NCAA D1 journey + next year's NBA India Games

Episode 72 of Hoopdarshan comes around Christmas and New Year's with a double dose of gifts for the holidays. We are joined by Sanjana Ramesh - the Beagles Mamba - who discussed receiving a NCAA D1 scholarship from Northern Arizona, her basketball journey in Bengaluru, and her favourite dosas. Hosts Kaushik Lakshman and Karan Madhok also discuss the impact of the historic first NBA preseason games between the Kings and Pacers coming to Mumbai next year.

Ramesh (17), the youngest guest yet on Hoopdarshan, has joined an exclusive club by becoming only the second Indian to be offered a scholarship by an NCAA D1 team. She will join Northern Arizona next year. Originally from Bengaluru, the talented all rounder has featured in India's U16 Women's team, the senior team for the William Jones Cup, and earlier this year, won the MVP of the Basketball Without Borders Asia Camp in Greater Noida.

Hoopdarshan is the truest voice of Indian basketball, and since we're such hopeless fans of the game, it will become the voice of everything basketball related we love, from the NBA to international hoops, too. On every episode of Hoopdarshan, we will be inviting a special guest to interview or chat to about a variety of topics. With expert insight from some of the brightest and most-involved people in the world of Indian basketball, we hope to bring this conversation to a many more interested fans, players, and followers of the game.

Make sure to follow Hoopdarshan on Soundcloud or search for 'Hoopdarshan' on the iTunes Store! Auto-sync Hoopdarshan to your preferred podcast app NOW!

Hoopdarshan can be found on...

December 21, 2018

NBA officially announce first-ever preseason games in India: Indiana Pacers vs. Sacramento Kings in October 2019

It's time to finally write that new chapter in basketball history: after much anticipation over the years - including leaked rumours just a few months ago - the NBA has made it official: for the first time in history, India will host two NBA preseason games between the Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings next year. This will also be the first time any North American league has staged games in India.

The two matchups of NBA India Games 2019 will be held on October 4-5 at the NSCI Dome in Mumbai. The announcement was made on Thursday by NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum and NBA India Managing Director Yannick Colaco in Mumbai.

"Our inaugural NBA India Games will help further untap the enormous basketball potential in a country with a thriving sports culture and a growing, young and engaged population," said NBA's Commissioner Adam Silver. "We thank the Kings and Pacers organisations for participating in this historic event."

In addition to the games, the league and its partners will conduct interactive fan activities, Jr. NBA youth basketball programming and NBA Cares community outreach events that will bring the NBA experience to fans in Mumbai. The NBA India Games 2019 will be promoted by BookMyShow and AEG and supported by a roster of marketing and merchandising partners. The games will air live in India, and will reach fans in more than 200 countries and territories on television, digital and social media.

"We are proud to be the first global sports league to bring games of this scale to India," said Colaco. "The NBA and basketball have never been more popular in India, and fans will get to enjoy world-class showcases for our sport between two exciting teams in the Sacramento Kings and the Indiana Pacers."

The Kings are the first (and only) NBA team with an Indian-born owner, Vivek Ranadive. Ranadive will fulfil his long-running dream of bringing the Kings to India for an exhibition game, and particularly to his hometown of Mumbai. Under Ranadive, the Kings helped Canadian Sim Bhullar become the first player of Indian-origin to play in the NBA. The Kings have the longest current playoff drought in the NBA (12 years) but feature an exciting young team who are finally turning things around this season. Led by guard De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein, and featuring this year's No. 2 draft pick Marvin Bagley, they have become one of the top scoring teams in the league and currently hold a 16-15 record.

The Pacers have a much sunnier present-day outlook, as they stand 20-12 and look healthy for a mid-tier playoff spot in the East. They are led by All Star Victor Oladipo, rising Lithuanian forward Domantas Sabonis, Bojan Bogdanovich, and Myles Turner. They have one of the league's best defensive units, and in Oladipo, likely the biggest star at this showcase.

"The Sacramento Kings are proud to be playing in the first NBA games ever held in India," said Ranadive. "As an Indian-American, it is an honour to help bring this historic moment to the country where I was raised. The sport is experiencing tremendous growth in India and we are excited about continuing to expand the NBA’s reach to fans across the globe. The world wants to watch basketball and India is a fast-growing new frontier."

"We are thrilled to be one of the first two teams to play the first-ever game in India and proud to be part of the expanding NBA worldwide footprint of our game of basketball," said Herbert Simon, Pacers' owner.

Tickets to the games will go on sale at a later date. Fans can visit to register interest for information and tickets.

Since 2006, more than 35 current and former NBA and WNBA players have visited India on behalf of the NBA. The NBA office in Mumbai opened in 2011. The NBA Academy India, an elite basketball training center in Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) for the top male and female prospects from throughout India and the first of its kind in the country, officially opened in May 2017.

December 15, 2018

Zarkawt BCA win season 5 of Mizoram Super League in Aizawl

2018 was the year of Zarkawt BCA in the Mizoram Super League. Two editions of India's most-fanatically-supported basketball league were held in the calendar year, and both times, it was Zarkawt who emerged as champions. Their most recent victory came as they closed out their opponents Tuikual South BC 2-1 in the three-game Finals series, winning the clincher in Aizawl 82-68 on Friday, December 14 at the Hawla Indoor Stadium. Mizo superstar Lalrina Renthlei was again named leagued MVP.

The MSL Finals were held in Aizawl from December 10-14. Zarkawt dominated Game 1 to win 100-77; Tuikual South bounced back in a close Game 2 finish, 95-93; and Zarkawt clinched the series in Game 3, 82-68.

Season 5 of the MSL tipped off on October 23 this year and featured six teams: Tuikual South BC, Zarkawt BCA, Vikings, Zarkawt Serpents, Khatla TBA Basketball, and Bethlehem Basketball Club.

December 13, 2018

BlueStar Basketball Asia to hold 2-day India Exposure Camp in Bengaluru

The first hurdle to make it big as a basketball player is, of course, to be actually good at basketball. But what happens then? If you're born in the right part of the world, opportunities will find you, and you will get a chance to showcase your skillset, and hopefully, find your track to greatness. But if you didn't win the geographical-lottery - basketball-wise - then the journey can be much harder. For Indian prospects, for example, finding the right opportunity has often been harder than mastering the game itself.

One of those opportunities will be knocking on the door of some players later this month. BlueStar Basketball Asia, in collaboration with Pursuit India, is providing a 2-day India Exposure Camp for select young campers, hosted at Jain International Residential School, Bengaluru on December 22-23.

According to information from Pursuit, players at this camp will get the exclusive opportunity to showcase their abilities in front of international basketball coaches and scouts and undergo fundamental skill development coaching from international coaches, education on basketball pathways to US and UK colleges, personal athletic and skillset evaluations with areas for improvement and level of play rating in line with NCAA College ratings, and the opportunity to be added to college recruiting reports presented to coaches with a view to obtain and secure college scholarships in the USA/UK. The camp will be coached by Renee Allen-Johnson (former NCAA Division 1 and Britain National Team player) and Carlos Iroung (former Cameroon national team player with professional experience in Italy, Slovenia, and Philippines).

Boys and girls between the ages of 13-17 are eligible for this camp, which is set to cost Rs. 7,500 (without accommodation) and Rs. 10,000 (accommodation included). Interested players/parents can register here, or contact Pursuit India for queries and clarifications: +91 9001336535 or

December 11, 2018

Team India head to Hong Kong for 22nd Super Kung Sheung Cup

It's been a barren few months in Indian men's basketball, devoid of international action since the summer. India were knocked out in the first group stage of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, and, as a further insult, weren't supported by our own Olympic Association (IOA) to participate in the 2018 Asian Games. India's lack of success has been glaring for this period - and for much longer - as the team hasn't won a major international game for nearly two years.

This week, India finally has the opportunity to change some of those glaring statistics. Team India has headed to Hong Kong for the 22nd Best Mart 360 Super Kung Sheung Cup International Basketball Invitational Championship, set to be held from December 11-16 in HK's Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Wan Chai. This competition will be India's chance to improve on their previous showing at the Super Kung Sheung Cup, back in 2016, when they finished at a best-ever third place.

India will be without a handful of talented Punjabi bigs in this tournament. Amjyot Singh and Palpreet Singh Brar are still serving their year-long ban handed by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI), but if eligible, Amjyot would have still been unavailable as he continues his second season with the OKC Blue of the NBA G-League. Satnam Singh is playing his first season for the St. John's Edge of Canada's NBL. Amritpal Singh is recovering from an injury.

But there is indeed some good news. After a lengthy injury layover, India's top playmaker Vishesh Bhriguvanshi will return to the national team for this tournament. Much-hyped young star of the NBA Global Academy in Australia, Princepal Singh will make his senior team debut in Hong Kong. Other important players like guard Akilan Pari, athletic forward Sejin Matthew, and big man Arvind Arumugam (captain for this tournament) will also be a part of the squad. The team will be coached by Sat Prakash Yadav.

Team India Roster
  • Jeevanatham Pandi
  • Loveneet Singh Atwal
  • Pratyanshu Tomar
  • Vishesh Bhriguvanshi
  • Jatin Shokhanda
  • Princepal Singh
  • Anil Kumar BK
  • Sejin Matthew
  • Arvind Kumar
  • Akilan Pari
  • Arvind Arumugam - captain
  • Justin Joseph
  • Head Coach: Sat Prakash Yadav
  • Assistant Coach: Aman Sharma
  • Manager: Shafiq Shaikh

India's Preliminary Round Schedule - All timings IST
  • December 12 - HK Eastern Long Lions vs. India - 6:15 PM
  • December 13 - India vs. Thailand - 1:30 PM

Two-time winners from the USA, the Southern California Fukienese Association (SCFA), are likely to be favourites for the tournament again. Hopefully India can snag a couple of morale-improving wins here and give the players much-needed international basketball exposure.

December 10, 2018

Hoopdarshan Episode 71: Mizoram basketball superstar Lalrina Renthlei on the MSL and hoops in the North-East

With the finals of the fifth season of India's most-extra basketball event - the Mizoram Basketball League (MSL) - in our sights, Hoopdarshan welcomes Mizo basketball's biggest star and last season's MVP Lalrina Renthlei as our special guest for Episode 71. In a wide-ranging interview, Renthlei speaks to hosts Kaushik Lakshman and Karan Madhok about the MSL's growth, basketball in the North-East, toggling between pro basketball and snooker, and his ambitions to play for India's national team.

Lalrina Renthlei (27) is the biggest star out of Mizoram basketball. He is the top player of the MSL, and was famously the first Mizo to dunk int he league. Earlier this year, he became only the second Mizo player to make India's national team probables in 13 years. He also played in the 3BL league for Bengaluru and took part in the Hyderabad World Tour Masters. Aside from basketball, Renthlei is an accomplished snooker professional as well.

Episode 71 also rounds up recent Indian basketball news, with shout-outs to Tim Hardaway, Sanjana Ramesh, Amjyot Singh, and the NBA/WNBA inspirations of India's top players.

Hoopdarshan is the truest voice of Indian basketball, and since we're such hopeless fans of the game, it will become the voice of everything basketball related we love, from the NBA to international hoops, too. On every episode of Hoopdarshan, we will be inviting a special guest to interview or chat to about a variety of topics. With expert insight from some of the brightest and most-involved people in the world of Indian basketball, we hope to bring this conversation to a many more interested fans, players, and followers of the game.

Make sure to follow Hoopdarshan on Soundcloud or search for 'Hoopdarshan' on the iTunes Store! Auto-sync Hoopdarshan to your preferred podcast app NOW!

Hoopdarshan can be found on...

November 20, 2018

Uttar Pradesh (Boys) and Maharashtra (Girls) win 2018 Sub Junior Nationals in Kangra (Himachal Pradesh)

The finals of this year's 5th Sub-Junior National Basketball Championship for Boys and Girls in Kangra (Himachal Pradesh) had the favourites and reigning champions from each division primed to double up their winning streaks. But then, the underdogs struck, and on the marquee matchups of the "Mini" (U14) Nationals on Sunday, November 18, it was Maharashtra (Girls) and Uttar Pradesh (Boys) that emerged as winners.

Maharashtra's girls ended a 14-year wait to defeat reigning champions Tamil Nadu 83-66 to win the U14 Indian basketball crown. Last their semi-final comeback win over Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra bounced back in the final after trailing 16-20 in the first quarter. They dominated the next two periods behind 20 points by their star forward Shomira Bidaye.

In the boys' final, Uttar Pradesh upset reigning champs Rajasthan to secure the gold, jumping up from a fourth-place finish in their tournament's last iteration in Didwana (Rajasthan) last year.

Organised by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) and the Himachal Pradesh Basketball Association (HPBA), the tournament was held at the Municipal Ground in Kangra from November 12-18, 2018.

November 18, 2018

Indian star Amjyot Singh returns to OKC Blue of the NBA G-League for second season

Last year, Indian basketball star Amjyot Singh took a major step forward for ballers from his country by making a mark in the NBA G-League. Now, after a gruelling training camp, he has done it again. The OKC Blue, the team that Amjyot played for last season, has once again named him in their roster for the 2018-19 season.

Amjyot played 30 games for the Blue, averaging 2.7 pts and 1 reb per game in about 8 minutes of action per game last season. This year, Amjyot makes a comeback with the squad, making his debut for the Blue in their 140-121 win over the Sioux Falls earlier this week.

Earlier this year, the Basketball Federation of India banned Amjyot from the national team, controversially alleging conduct detrimental to the team. The return to G-League basketball is some relief for Amjyot, and hopefully, he can ball his way to redemption through the course of this season.

November 15, 2018

Sanjana Ramesh joins Northern Arizona University to become only the second Indian woman in NCAA D1 Basketball

Sanjana Ramesh (17), a talented all-rounder on the court, had been simmering in the Indian basketball circles for the past year. In 2017, she played a small but crucial role as India won Division B of the FIBA U16 Asia Championship, in front of her hometown fans in Bengaluru. Her potential made her one of the recruits for the NBA Academy's first-ever women's camp in Greater Noida this summer. And a few days after this camp, as she participated in the larger Basketball Without Borders event among some of the most gifted young players in Asia, Ramesh exploded to rise above the rest, winning camp MVP and putting the country on notice.

But she took her biggest leap yet this week, when news broke from across the pond that the Northern Arizona University's women's basketball programme - a team in the Big Sky Conference of NCAA's Division 1 in the USA - have handed one of their two scholarships to bring Ramesh to their programme. After signing the National Letter of Intent with the 'Lumberjacks', Ramesh has become only the second Indian-born player ever to receive basketball scholarship for a Division 1 team, after Kavita Akula at the Grand Canyon University.

On Wednesday, head coach Loree Payne announced Sanjana Ramesh and Emily Rodabaugh (Lynnwood, Washington State) as the newest Lumberjacks, after the pair signed their NLI. Both Ramesh and Rodabaugh will be incoming freshmen for the 2019-20 season.

"With only two scholarships, we had to get two impact players and we did," said Payne said. "We got two players who have the potential to impact our program right away. Both fit our style of play, can get up and down the floor and are very versatile. They can play on the perimeter and can play on the inside. We pride ourselves on player development, and there is no ceiling to how great these two players can be."

Ramesh, a 6'0" forward, averaged 6.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game for India's U16 squad at last years U16 FIBA Asia Championship. She made her senior team debut for India at the 2018 William Jones Cup in Chinese Taipei this summer, where she endured an anterior cruciate ligament tear to her knee. She had surgery on the knee in August.

"Sanjana is an athlete who has international and national experience in India," Payne said. "We’re trying to get our foot in the door in the international recruiting scene and for us, Sanjana is everything we’re looking for. She’s a joyful kid and very thankful for the opportunity to come here and she’s going to be a heck of a player. Her potential is limitless."

The Northern Arizona Universiy's main campus at the base of the San Francisco Peaks in Flagstaff, Arizona. Last season was coach Payne's first with NAU. The Lumberjacks finished the season with a 7-23 overall record, and their season came to an end in the first round of the Big Sky Championships to Portland State.

November 14, 2018

Hoopdarshan Episode 70: Palpreet Singh Brar on his G-League journey, BFI suspension, and more

It's Diwali season, and Hoopdarshan has brought the fireworks. In Episode 70 of the podcast, we feature special guest Palpreet Singh Brar, the first Indian to be drafted directly by the NBA G-League, an important member of the Indian national team, and the man embroiled around a controversy that got him suspended from Indian basketball this year. Brar bares his all, giving his side of the story, and providing more details of his incredible journey. Additionally, co-hosts Kaushik Lakshman and Karan Madhok catch up on other news in Indian basketball and the NBA.

Brar is from originally from Punjab's Sri Mukhtar Sahib district, and like many other Punjabi basketball prodigies, got his basketball training under the legendary late Dr. Subramanian of the Ludhiana Basketball Academy. After impressing for India's junior levels and national team, he won the NBA's ACG Jump Challenge in 2016 and went to train for the NBA's G-League. The same year, he became the first Indian to be drafted into the G-League by the Long Island Nets, before he was cut from the team. Brar has since been a regular for India's national team in important FIBA tournaments, played in the now-defunct UBA league, and in 3x3 competitions. Last year, Palpreet was handed a controversial 1-year ban by the Basketball Federation of India.

Hoopdarshan is the truest voice of Indian basketball, and since we're such hopeless fans of the game, it will become the voice of everything basketball related we love, from the NBA to international hoops, too. On every episode of Hoopdarshan, we will be inviting a special guest to interview or chat to about a variety of topics. With expert insight from some of the brightest and most-involved people in the world of Indian basketball, we hope to bring this conversation to a many more interested fans, players, and followers of the game.

Make sure to follow Hoopdarshan on Soundcloud or search for 'Hoopdarshan' on the iTunes Store! Auto-sync Hoopdarshan to your preferred podcast app NOW!

Hoopdarshan can be found on...

The Crossover Godfather himself, Tim Hardaway, is visiting Mumbai and Bengaluru for NBA India events

Before there was Allen Iverson, or Kyrie Irving, or Stephen Curry, Jamal Crawford, or Jason Williams, there was the godfather of killer crossovers, Tim Hardaway. Before the Golden State Warriors conquered the world with their Splash Triplets, there was the Run-TMC era. Before Wade and Shaq, and later, the Big Three bought championships to Miami, Hardaway led the team to a then franchise-best 61 victories. Before the time when the smallest guy on the court - the quick-footed, sharp-shooting, point guard - became an impossible to stop weapon, there was Hardaway, UTEP Two-Stepping his way to five NBA All Star appearances and becoming one of the most iconic guards of the 90s.

This week, Hardaway (52) will visit India to promote the growth of basketball and NBA India's recently announced McDonald’s NBA-themed promotion. and promote the growth of basketball. On Tuesday, November 13, Hardaway made his first stop in Mumbai to lead a clinic at the NBA Basketball School in Jamnabai Narsee, Juhu. On November 14, Hardaway will visit the McDonald’s restaurant on High Street Phoenix to meet with fan. On November 15, Hardaway will meet and greet with fans at the McDonald’s outlet in Lido Mall, Bengaluru. Hardaway will return to Mumbai for live television appearances on Sony Ten 1 and Sony Ten 3’s NBA wraparound shows on Nov. 17 to discuss the ongoing NBA season.

"Basketball has taken me to many places around the world and I’m excited to be in India to meet with the fans and do my part to further the development of the game," said Hardaway.

Hardaway was drafted 14th overall by the Golden State Warriors in the 1989 NBA Draft and named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 1990. He was part of the Warriors' iconic (but short-lived) crew "Run-TMC", that included him, Mitch Richmond, and Chris Mullin. His most productive season was with the Warriors in 1991-92, when he averaged a career-best 23.4 ppg. Hardaway was traded to the Miami Heat midseason in the 1995-96 season. In 1996-97, Hardaway finished a career-best fourth in NBA voting, selected to the All NBA First Team, and led Miami to 61 wins. Hardaway also played short stints with the Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, and Indiana Pacers, before retiring from the NBA in 2003. A five-time NBA All-Star, he averaged 17.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 8.2 assists in his career and was named to an All-NBA Team five times.

Hardaway returned to the NBA in a coaching role in 2014, and served as an assistant coach to the Detroit Pistons till the 2017-18 season. Hardaway's son, Tim Hardaway Jr., was drafted to the NBA in 2013 and is currently playing for the New York Knicks where he is the team's leading scorer.

Seriously, Senior Hardaway was legit. Here's proof:

November 12, 2018

45th Sub-Junior National Basketball Championship tips off in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh

For the next week, the centre of Indian basketball will be facing north. The top "mini" basketball teams in the country (under-14s) are in Kangra in Himachal Pradesh for the 45th Sub-Junior National Basketball Championship for Boys and Girls. The tournament, organised by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) and the Himachal Pradesh Basketball Association (HPBA) will be held at the Municipal Ground in Kangra from November 12-18, 2018.

Last year's champs in Didwana (Rajasthan)- Rajasthan Boys and Tamil Nadu Girls - are sure to be favourites again for this year's event. Other teams to keep an eye on include Chhattisgarh's contingent, Madhya Pradesh boys, and Maharashtra girls.

HP's Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur was the chief guest at the tournament's opening ceremony and inaugurated the event. Also present were Vipin Singh Parmar (Health Minister, Himachal Pradesh) and K. Govindraj (President, BFI).

November 4, 2018

China win 5th consecutive FIBA Asia U18 Women's title in Bengaluru; Undefeated India win Division B!

It was a tournament that repeated histories. For the third consecutive time, a major women's FIBA Asia tournament was held in Bengaluru, India. For the fifth straight time, China's U18 team raced to grab the the gold medals. And for the third time in various women's FIBA Asia events, India - starting in Division B - played a perfect tournament to win promotion to Division A.

The 2018 FIBA Asia U18 Championship for Women was held in Bengaluru, India, from October 28 - November 3, with games held at the city's Sree Kanteerava Stadium and the Koramangala Indoor Stadium. 16 of the top teams in the Asia and Oceania took part, divided into higher (Division A) and lower (Division B) sections. This was the third consecutive FIBA Asia Women's tournament to be held in Bengaluru, after last year's FIBA Asia Women's Cup and FIBA Asia U16 Championship for Women.

No matter the location, the team in-charge of proceedings was yet again China. China won their fifth consecutive FIBA Asia U18 Women's title win a win over their rivals Japan in the final on Saturday, 89-76. After a tight first half where both teams were tied at 38-each, China opened the third period with a 24-12 run that proved to be the difference. They held on to their lead in a high-scoring fourth to secure the victory. Rising Chinese basketball star Yuan Li scored 28 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists in the final, while Zhuo Ya Fang added 17. Chinatsu Umeki (20) and Layla Takehara (18) led the way for Japan in the loss.

Oceania's finest Australia won the third-place game on Saturday against Korea to secure the bronze medal. After leading just 54-49 at the end of the third quarter, Australia finished in style to run away with a 75-58 triumph. Duke University's Miela Goodchild (21) and rising star Nnenna Agnes Emma-Nnopu (17) led the way for Australia. Korea were led with 17-points a piece by Jihyun Park and Haeran Lee.

The top four teams - China, Japan, Australia, and Korea - qualified for 2018 FIBA U19 Women's World Cup.

Like they did in the previous two age division events in Bengaluru, hosts India entered this tournament in Division B. Once again, the man at the helm of the squad was Zoran Visic, the Serbian coach who has been managing India's women's basketball for the past few years at all levels. Despite home familiarity, however, India had reason for caution, missing several of their top players and fielding a captain - Pushpa Senthil Kumar - who was injured in the run-up to the tournament.

India were in Group A of Division B, along with Iran, Guam, and Singapore, and once the tournament got underway, they showed their class to devastate all opponents.

India's first game was probably their most nervous affair, against Iran. Leading 46-38 before the beginning of the final quarter, India made several costly errors and allowed Iran to come all the way back. Fortunately, a couple of smart plays in the last few minutes helped India hold their nerve and survive for a 73-65 win. Sreekala Rani led India with 19 while Iran's best player was Fatemeh Aghazadegan Ghazvini, who scored a game-high 22 points.

Once they got the first-game jitters out of the way, India were ruthless in their next contest, against the inexperienced Guam. Srishti Suren had 19 points and 9 rebounds to lead six players in double-digits for India in the 107-42 victory.

It was more of the same in India's final group stage game against Singapore. India started off with a 20-3 first quarter run that immediately deflated their opponents. Led by Gulabsha Ali's 21 off the bench, India ran away to a 79-49 win to top their group.

In the Division B semi-final, India were matched up against Group B runners-up Hong Kong. Once again, India looked confident, and this time, used a defensively throttling third quarter run (17-2) to shut down their opponents. Harshitha Kelttira Bopaiah was immense with 18 points and 16 rebounds to help India win, 83-38.

India faced a familiar foe - Kazakhstan - in the final, in what was supposed to be a closer matchup. But right from the start, Visic's squad ensured that they wouldn't allow any space for mistakes. India led 32-18 after the first half and pushed the lead to 54-30 after three quarters. The final score read 68-45 as India celebrated their Division B victory. Bopaiah, who definitely emerged as the team's knockout stage MVP, finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds in the victory.

India finished the tournament a perfect 5-0, winning each game with an average margin of 34.2 points. The victory ensured that India will be promoted to Division A when the next iteration of this tournament comes around in two more years.

India and Visic have a lot to be proud of after this tournament, particularly the impressive performances by the Bopaiah, who led the team in both scoring (14.8 ppg) and rebounds (11.2 rpg). Point guard Dharshani Thirunavukkarasu showed maturity beyond her years in shepherding the squad and averaging 10.8 points and 4 assists per game. Other consistent performers for the team included Srishti Suren and Ishwarya Janardhanan, who led the squad in minutes played and assists (6.0 apg).

This victory again highlighted the strange space occupied by India's Women's basketball: too good for Division B; too terrible for Division A. Hopefully, all three promoted squads (Seniors, U16, U18) can find Division A success in the next tournaments.

FIBA Asia U18 Championship for Women - Final Standings
  • 1. China
  • 2. Japan
  • 3. Australia
  • 4. Korea

October 28, 2018

India hope to defend home court at 2018 FIBA U18 Women's Asia Championship: Roster, Schedule, and Preview

Over the past year or so, Bengaluru has been a sort of lucky charm for India's Women's basketball. Last year, both India's Senior and U16 Women's squads played in their respective FIBA Asia tournaments hosted in the city. And each time - the seniors in July and the Youth players in October - India started in the lower Division B and won all of their matchups to earn promotion to Division A.

Now, the U18 squad find themselves in a similar predicament. Bengaluru. Division B. A FIBA Asia Championship. Even the head coach - Zoran Visic - is the same. And India will be hoping that the culmination of these factors will yield another positive result, another promotion, and finally produce some good news after a cold, barren period in Indian basketball.

192 of Asia and Oceania's finest junior women cagers, across 16 teams, are set to take centre stage in the 2018 FIBA U18 Women's Asia Championship in Bengaluru from October 28 to November 3. The teams are divided into the higher Division A and the lower Division B. The former teams - plus India - will play their games in the showcase Sree Kanteerava Stadium in the city, while the rest of Division B will be at the Koramangala Indoor Stadium.

All eyes will be on China at the top, who have won four straight U18 FIBA Asia Women's titles and are aiming for a five-peat. This team around, however, they will have stiff challenge from Oceania's entrants Australia and New Zealand. Australia will definitely be favourites as they feature a similar squad to the won that won the U17 FIBA World Championship. Other teams to watch will include Japan and Korea, too.

Participating Teams

Division A
  • Group A: Australia, Korea, Chinese Taipei, Indonesia.
  • Group B: China, Japan, New Zealand, Malaysia.

Division B
  • Group A: India, Singapore, Guam, Iran.
  • Group B: Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, Syria, Samoa.

Led by Zoran Visic, India have reason for caution even as hosts in their lower division. The team is missing two of its best players to injury, Vaishnavi Yadav and Sanjana Ramesh. Additionally, the captain of the current team, Pushpa Senthil Kumar, is also recovering from injury and will likely be a game-time decision for India's opening match. India will be hoping that a healthy Pushpa, along with other young players will international experience like Sreekala Rani, Sushantika Chakravortty, and Ann Mary Zachariah will be able to lift the team to promotion.

India's Roster
  • Arya Achuta Sreeramaneni
  • Sakshi Sharma
  • Dharshini Thirunavukkarasu
  • Harshitha Kelttira Bopaiah
  • Pushpa Senthil Kumar - captain
  • Srishti Suren
  • Ishwarya Janardhanan
  • Sreekala Rani
  • Gulabsha Ali
  • Ann Mary Zachariah
  • Anumaria Chenganamattathil
  • Sushantika Chakravortty
  • Head Coach: Zoran Visic
  • Assistant Coach: Thankachan Mulackal Chacko
  • Assistant Coach: Priyanka Bhandari

Even with all the injuries, home court and recent experience of a similar U16 team should make India favourites in the division. India were in Division A at the 2016 version of this championship and ended winless to be relegated. Visic will hope that his influence can help a bounce back. However, India will have difficulty preparing for their opponents, featuring a little-seen Iran squad, newcomers Guam, and Singapore in their group.

India's Preliminary Round Schedule - all timings IST
  • October 28 - India vs. Iran - 8 PM
  • October 29 - Guam vs. India - 8 PM
  • October 30 - India vs. Singapore - 8 PM

If India are able to get through this group (and ideally, it should be easy for them to do so), their biggest threat to winning the division will probably come through from a strong Kazakhstan squad in Group B. On Friday, the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) announced a cash prize of ₹10 lakh for the team if it finishes atop Division B.

The top four teams from Division A will grab the spots for the 2019 FIBA U19 Women's World Cup. All Division A games and India games will be live streamed on FIBA’s social media channels. The BFI has announced free entry to the Sree Kanteerava and the Koramangala stadiums for the group stage!

October 24, 2018

Mamannan Raja Raja Cholan Cup 2018: Hindu Public School (Haryana) and PSGR Krishnanmal Girls Secondary High School (Coimbatore) win gold

The 2018 edition of Mamannan Raja Raja Cholan Cup - the 6th annual All India invitational basketball tournament for boys and girls (u19) - was held in Thanjavur (Tamil Nadu) last week from October 13-16. The coveted trophies were won by Haryana's Hindu Public School (Boys) and Tamil Nadu's own PSGR Krishnanmal Girls Secondary High School (Girls) of Coimbatore on the finals on October 16.

The four-day tournament was held at the Kamala Subramaniam Matriculation High School and Periyar Maniammai University in Thanjavur. The final victors were decided through a round robin super-league, topped by Hindu Public School and PSGR Krishnanmal in the boys' and girls' divisions, respectively.

Final Standings

  • 1. Hindu Public School (Haryana)
  • 2. Shanthal Jothi Public School (Kerala)
  • 3. Sir M.Ct.M.Muthaiyah Hindu Public School (Chennai)

  • 1. PSGR Krishnanmal Girls Secondary High School (Coimbatore)
  • 2. Sacred Hearts Girls Higher Secondary School (Thanjavur)
  • 3. Lady Sivasami Iyer Girls Higher Secondary School (Chennai)

October 17, 2018

Air Canada revamp and inaugurate Matunga basketball court in Mumbai - with help from Indian basketball stars

Mumbai has a long and proud history of basketball, featuring great little hubs of competition around the metropolis. One of those famous basketball neighbourhoods - Matunga - received a happy boost earlier this week with a little help from some foreign friends. Led by an effort by Air Canada to shed light on their Indo-Canadian partnership, Matunga's Hoopers Ground basketball court was revamped and inaugurated over the past weekend. Air Canada partnered with award-winning content creators Beautiful Destinations to complete the court's new look and featured Indian basketball players, musicians, and artists to highlight the court's inauguration ceremony.

The court revamp was the latest iteration of Air Canada's "Fly the Flag" initiative to highlight "how people all over the world are making an impact in local communities, while displaying the values of diversity, equality, and inclusivity". Renowned Indian artist Sajid Wahid, through ST+ART India Foundation, used colour and design that were reminiscent of Canada and India. Indian basketball players including Varanasi's famous Singh Sisters (Divya, Prashanti and Akanksha) and Indian-Canadian musician Raghav Mathur were present at the unveiling of the court.

More details, via Qrius's article by Elton Gomes:

The objective was to showcase Mumbai’s beauty, diversity, and vibrant culture. The initiative began as an attempt to create an enduring positive space in the community for people to come together — a space that would leave an artistic legacy that can be viewed from the sky.

Speaking at the event, Arun Pandeya, general manager of Air Canada – India & South Asia said, "At Air Canada, we believe that by doing good and by participating fully in the communities we serve, our airline truly thrives. We’re committed to giving back through a range of initiatives each year that help advance diversity, equality and inclusivity around the world. Air Canada is grateful for the opportunity to add value in meaningful ways to the neighborhoods and communities in this wonderful nation. We thank our partners for making today’s event such a success, and the youth for taking part in the inaugural game on the new court."

The photographs from this court look beautiful and help to add more character to a city teeming with basketball potential. Hopefully, the aesthetic is just the first step to attract young players to come to the court - but it will be the love of the game that will hopefully make them stay.

On a sidenote to this story was the unfortunate arrest of a Scottish national - Tom Jauncey, the co-founder of Beautiful Destinations - who had come to Mumbai to videograph the court revamp and was arrested for flying a drone near the Mumbai airport without permission.

Hoopdarshan Episode 69: Superspectacular NBA 2018-19 Preview with James Hsu

The new NBA season is here, and so is Hoopdarshan, India's premier basketball podcast! In episode 69, hosts Kaushik Lakshman and Karan Madhok are joined by basketball superfan James Hsu to speak about burning topics like the Warriors' inevitability, Lakers' playoff fortunes, the new Kings of the East, the Timberwolves timbermess, the future of the Knicks, and everything else!

Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Hsu has a myriad of fascinations, including technology, Magic The Gathering, and the Chicago Bulls. James is the founder and CTO of CardBoard Live, has written a memoir about his Magic The Gathering journey, and hosts a podcast called Humans of Magic.

Hoopdarshan is the truest voice of Indian basketball, and since we're such hopeless fans of the game, it will become the voice of everything basketball related we love, from the NBA to international hoops, too. On every episode of Hoopdarshan, we will be inviting a special guest to interview or chat to about a variety of topics. With expert insight from some of the brightest and most-involved people in the world of Indian basketball, we hope to bring this conversation to a many more interested fans, players, and followers of the game.

Make sure to follow Hoopdarshan on Soundcloud or search for 'Hoopdarshan' on the iTunes Store! Auto-sync Hoopdarshan to your preferred podcast app NOW!

Hoopdarshan can be found on...

October 12, 2018

Seven-time NBA champ Robert Horry will return to India to celebrate start of new NBA season

Robert Horry has been basketball's ultimate good-luck charm. Here's a player with no All Star appearances, no All NBA teams, no major individual accolades except for an All Rookie Second Team in his first NBA season. And yet, by the time he retired from basketball 16 years later, he had etched his name as one of the greatest winners in NBA history. Horry won championships almost everywhere he went and ended up with a total of seven titles, more than any player in history that didn't play in the heralded 50s/60s Boston Celtics. More than Jordan, Kareem, Magic, Kobe, Duncan, or Shaq.

And now, the big man known as "Mr Big Shot" will visit India - for the second time - to mark the start of another NBA season.

The NBA announced on Friday that Horry will visit India next week, from October 19, to celebrate the 2018-19 NBA season tip-off with fans and engage with the country’s top prospects at The NBA Academy India.

Horry will first stop in New Delhi on Oct. 19, where he will train with the 24 full-time prospects at NBA Academy India in Greater Noida. He will then make live television appearances on Sony Ten 1 and Sony Ten 3’s NBA wraparound shows on Oct. 20 and Oct. 21 respectively in Mumbai to discuss the upcoming NBA season.

Horry's first trip to India was back in September 2012, where he was the featured guest for the launch of the NBA 3x3 season in the Delhi-NCR region.

"I’m excited to return to India to work with some of the most promising talent the country has to offer and celebrate what will certainly be an electrifying NBA season," said Horry. "I understand the game has made huge strides since my last visit to India in 2012, and I can’t wait to see this for myself."

Horry, a 6-9 power forward was the definition of a modern "stretch 4" before it became a commonplace thing in the league. He was drafted by the Rockets in 1992 and won the 1994 and 1995 titles in Houston. He played one season for the Phoenix Suns and then ended up in the Los Angeles Lakers, with whom he won a threepeat (2000-02). Horry's last stand was with the San Antonio Spurs, where he added two more titles to his tally (2005, 2007) before retiring in 2008. During the course of his career, he played alongside some of the NBA's greatest-ever players, including Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, and Tim Duncan.

October 9, 2018

Hoopdarshan Episode 68: Francisco Garcia on the state of Indian Women's Basketball

India's premier basketball podcast Hoopdarshan returns with Episode 68, featuring special guest Francisco Garcia, the former head coach of India's women's senior team. Garcia, now back in his native Spain, speaks to hosts Kaushik Lakshman and Karan Madhok about where India's performances have faltered in recent years, the important players to carry the torch forward, and his unending connection to India.

Kaushik and Karan also round up the episode with updates on Indian basketball including Satnam Singh in Canada, the growing 3x3BL circuit in India, IOA's decision to withhold India's Men's team from the Asian Games, and more.

Hoopdarshan is the truest voice of Indian basketball, and since we're such hopeless fans of the game, it will become the voice of everything basketball related we love, from the NBA to international hoops, too. On every episode of Hoopdarshan, we will be inviting a special guest to interview or chat to about a variety of topics. With expert insight from some of the brightest and most-involved people in the world of Indian basketball, we hope to bring this conversation to a many more interested fans, players, and followers of the game.

Make sure to follow Hoopdarshan on Soundcloud or search for 'Hoopdarshan' on the iTunes Store! Auto-sync Hoopdarshan to your preferred podcast app NOW!

Hoopdarshan can be found on...

October 8, 2018

Hosts Rajasthan (Boys) and Punjab (Girls) win gold at 2018 Youth National Basketball Championship in Udaipur

The fans expected to defend their home turf, to ensure that local pride was protected, to win a major national basketball championship against some of the best young players in the country. And Team Rajasthan did just that. At the 35th Youth National Basketball Championship for Boys and Girls, held in Udaipur, Rajasthan over the past week, India's top youth (under-16) teams showcased their skills and made a name for themselves as rising prospects. When the dust settled after the finals on Sunday, October 7, Rajasthan (Boys) and Punjab (Girls) emerged as champions.

For Rajasthan, the victory was their first gold in the Youth Nationals since 2007. Rajasthan left no room for mistakes in the final, defeating Maharashtra easily 85-54 to secure their victory. Rajasthan's Rajveer Singh scored 26 points in the final and was aided by Jitendra (18) and Rudra Pratap (17).

The girls' final was a closely-contested match that saw Punjab sneak by Karnataka 67-66 to secure the gold medal. Sukhmandeep Kaur led the way for Punjab with 16. The defeat was Karnataka's second-consecutive year of a loss in this tournament's finale. Sanjana scored 24 for Karnataka in the loss.

Tamil Nadu (Boys) and Maharashtra (Girls) finished with bronze medals in their respective divisions.

Rajveer Singh (Rajasthan) and Sukhmandeep Kaur (Punjab) were named the Most Valuable Players in the boys and girls divisions respectively.

Final Standings

  • 1. Rajasthan
  • 2. Maharashtra
  • 3. Tamil Nadu

  • 1. Punjab
  • 2. Karnataka
  • 3. Maharashtra