January 30, 2018

National Khelo India School Games (KISG) -- including Basketball -- to begin in New Delhi on Wednesday

Less than five months after he took office as India's new sports minister, former Olympian (shooting) Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore will oversee his pet project - Khelo India - come into light. The flagship Khelo India School Games (KISG), a nationwide gathering of school-going athletes participating in sixteen sporting disciplines, will be held in New Delhi from January 1 - February 8, 2018. The KISG will be launched on Wednesday by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Indira Gandhi Stadium.

The Khelo India programme has been introduced to revive the sports culture in the country at the grassroots level. Organised by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, the Games will assist in scouting youth (under 17) talent in various disciplines by a High-Powered Committee. The plan is to provide the identified talents with annual financial assistance of Rs. 5 lakh per annum for 8 years.

At the first KISG, under-17 athletes have been invited to participate across in Archery, Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Boxing, Football, Gymnastics, Hockey, Judo, Kabaddi, Kho-Kho, Shooting, Swimming, Volleyball, Weightlifting, and Wrestling. 199 gold medals, 199 silver medals and 275 bronze medals are at stake at the Games.

The Basketball tournament of KISG will be held at the Stadium's KD Jadhav Indoor Hall from February 5-8. The tournament, and many other sporting events, will be broadcast live on Star Sports.

While there is imbalance in the scouting and grooming of young basketball players from around India, hopefully this tournament can bring some new faces into the spotlight and eventually help boost the national squads.

January 26, 2018

Indian Railways (Women) and Tamil Nadu (Men) win 2018 Senior Nationals gold in Chennai

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 on Wednesday. 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 'Senior Nationals', organised by the Tamil Nadu Basketball Association (TNBA) and the Basketball Federation of India (BFI), are India's most prestigious basketball championship. This year the 68th edition of tournament featured the best basketball talent from 31 men's and 26 women's teams from Indian States and Union territories.

For a major stretch in the past decade, Indian Railways were nearly untouchable at the Senior Nationals, seemingly winning the tournament every year. Their reign at the top was finally stopped by Chhattisgarh who beat Railways in the 2014 finals and sowed the seeds of a new rivalry. The two teams squared off at the final once again on Wednesday, and Railways made their intention to rise back to the top clear from the beginning. Railways led 43-33 at halftime, and then raced off in the second half to a comfortable 100-71 victory on the back of captain Navaneetha PU (30) and Renjini (19). Poonjam Chaturvedi, India's tallest women's basketball player, scored 27 for Chhattisgarh in the loss, while Anju Lakra scored 17 against her former team.

The Men's final was a closer affair, pitting the well-prepared host team Tamil Nadu against the old heads from Services. Under the tutelage of Serbian coach Milan Opacic, expectations were high for TN to defend their home court. The teams went back and forth in the first half and TN held only a slim 41-40 lead at halftime. After the break, however, TN's finally began to create some separation against their gritty opponents and pulled away to win 94-86. International forward Rikin Pethani scored 25 for the winning side and Justin added 16. The veteran duo of Joginder Singh (23) and Narender Grewal (20) led Services in the loss.

Final Scores
  • Women: Indian Railways (Navaneetha PU 30, Renjini 19) bt. Chhattisgarh (Poonam Chaturvedi 27, Anju Lakra 17) 100-71 [19-16, 24-17, 34-21, 24-17].
  • Men: Tamil Nadu (Rikin Pethani 25, Justin 16, Prasanna Venkatesh 13) bt. Services (Joginder Singh 23, Narender Grewal 20, Jai Ram Jat 15) 94-86 [20-22, 21-18, 27-23, 26-23].

January 17, 2018

All of the Stars: 2018 National Basketball Championship brings India's top squads to Chennai

Chennai has long been one of India's most vibrant cities for basketball, with a strong grassroots structure of school and college competition, local icons who have starred for the national men's and women's squads, and state teams that have been consistently successful at the domestic stage for decades.

Now, the megacity will get a chance to showcase its basketball prowess with India's biggest annual basketball carnival. The 2018 Senior National Basketball Championship for Men and Women, organised by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) and the Tamil Nadu Basketball Association (TNBA), tipped off at the Jawarharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Wednesday and will conclude on January 24, 2018. The prestigious Championship will feature the best basketball talent from 31 men's and 26 women's teams from Indian States and Union territories. This is the 68th edition of the 'Senior Nationals'.

Last year, the Senior Nationals were held in Puducherry and won in style by Uttarakhand (Men) over Tamil Nadu and Kerala (Women) against Telangana in their respective finals. This year's championship, as always, will play a major role in the selection process for the Senior Indian Men's and Women's teams based on player performances.

Participating Teams

  • Group A: Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Kerala, Karnataka, Odisha.
  • Group B: Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Haryana, Indian Railways, Gujarat.
  • Group C: Chhattisgarh, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Services, Sikkim.
  • Group D: Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Puducherry, Telangana.
  • Group E: Arunachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Jharkhand, Mizoram, Tripura.
  • Group F: Assam, Bihar, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal.

  • Group A: Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka.
  • Group B: Telangana, Indian Railways, Delhi, Maharashtra, Rajasthan.
  • Group C: Punjab, Gujarat, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh.
  • Group D: West Bengal, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand.
  • Group E: Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh, Jammu and Kashmir, Puducherry.
  • Group F: Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha.

Hosts Tamil Nadu have high hopes to defend their home court during the Nationals. Both the men's and women's teams have been in training camp for over a month and have relied on the leadership of Serbian coach Milan Opacic to get them in shape for the tournament. Uttarakhand's men's team, who feature many of the stars from ONGC and have been dominating the Nationals and Federation Cup in India for several years, will be TN's biggest challenger, as will the athletic and skilled squad from Punjab. TN's women finished fifth last year and will have hope to knock down last year's champions, Kerala, who are stacked with international talent. Indian Railways and Chhattisgarh always compete at a high level in the Women's division, and no one will be taking last year's surprise finalist Telangana lightly this time around.

In a promotional event before the Nationals, the president of the TNBA VVR Raj Sathyen also confirmed that Indian basketball is set to get a national pro-league soon with Chennai as its base.

January 11, 2018

Former NBA player Kevin Martin to visit India

Sharpshooter Kevin Martin, who played twelve seasons in the NBA before retiring in 2016, will be the latest former/current NBA player to visit India this week. Martin is scheduled to be in India from January 12-18, 2017 to help the NBA's continuing efforts of promoting the game in the country.

Martin will first stop in Mumbai on January 12, where he will interact with Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA participants at the Dhirubhai Ambani School. On January 14, he will make an appearance as a guest analyst on Sony SIX’s NBA morning show “Around the Hoop”. Martin will then travel to Delhi on January 16 to attend another Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA program at St. Paul’s School, Safdarjung, followed by a visit to the NBA Basketball School at Apeejay School, Sheikh Sarai on Jan. 17. Finally, he will travel to Greater Noida on January 18 where he will conduct a clinic for the nation’s top basketball prospects at The NBA Academy India.

“I look forward to visiting India to promote the game of basketball,” said Martin. “There’s a tremendous amount of momentum for the sport in the country, and I’m excited to do my part to help propel the game forward.”

Originally drafted 26th in the 2004 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings, Martin - a 6-foot-7 shooting guard - enjoyed a fairly accomplished career. He spent his first six seasons with the Kings before playing for Rockets, Thunder, Timberwolves, and finally the Spurs, with whom he retired in 2016. He was a great outside and mid-range shooter and led the NBA in free throws in 2010-11. 

January 10, 2018

Hoopdarshan Episode 57: Ridhima Pathak on anchoring NBA show "Around the Hoop" for Indian fans

For NBA fans in India, one of the most consistent voices in the media over the past few years has been of Ridhima Pathak, anchor of the Sony SIX show NBA Around the Hoop. In Episode 57 of Hoopdarshan, Ridhima joins hosts Kaushik Lakshman and Karan Madhok to talk about her unlikely journey into NBA broadcasting, her love for the Cavaliers, Steph Curry, and her special khichdi recipe.

In the newest episode, Kaushik and Karan also discuss their favourites for the NBA All Star Game, the Lakers' Ball family fiasco, 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...

January 3, 2018

University of Calicut complete three-peat at 2018 All India Inter University Women's Basketball Championship in Chennai

It took a thrilling overtime battle, but heroics, experience, and sheer will for success helped the University of Calicut state their claim to 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 on Tuesday. Calicut defeated Bharathiar University in the final to win the gold medal at Chennai's Sri Sai Ram Engineering College.

University of Calicut, from Malappuram in Kerala, faced a tough opponent against Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu) based Bharathiar University. Bharathiar led 21-12 in the first quarter, but Calicut made a strong comeback to reverse the scores by the end of the fourth period to lead 61-52. Bharathiar equaled the scores at 84 at the end of regulation, but the tall duo of Elizabeth Hilarious (21) and Mayuka R. (18) rose to the occasion in overtime to hand Calicut the close 91-90 victory. Keerthi (31), Shreyanka (24), and Surya Dhaarshini (17) led the way for Bharathiar in the loss.

MG University from Kottayam (Kerala) won the bronze medal for the second consecutive year over Kannur with a 59-40 victory, led by Rose Mary (17).

January 2, 2018

Indian hoop dreaming-From makeshift school courts to a Jr. NBA World Championship

This article was first published in my 'Hoopistani' column for The Times of India Sports on December 23, 2017. Click here to read the original version.

I was ten or eleven years old when I first began to play basketball. There was only a small concrete ground available in those days for junior-school kids in my boarding school in Mussoorie. There were no clear demarcation lines, and the estimated length from basket to basket was about two-thirds the size of a regulation court. On one side was a regulation-height rim on a pole with a wooden backboard. On the other side, instead of a pole, there was an old deodar tree, where someone had nailed a backboard against the trunk. We were sure that this rim was a lower than ten feet.

So many of my earliest memories of the game are tied to this makeshift “court”. The high Himalayan altitude, the cold winter air, and sometimes, even homework couldn’t hold us back. My friends and I took part in intense half-court and full-court games, intra-dorm tournaments, and other challenges like “Knockout” or “Air-21”.

Often, a dozen of us would just stand around the basket after dinner for random shootarounds where the rules were simple: you only get the ball if you can rebound it over everyone else, and you can keep the ball as long as you keep scoring. The hunger to have possession of the ball gave me a keen sense of rebounding and forced me to work on my mid-range game. We had to be careful not to throw or pass the ball too hard: on one end, we had offices and dorm-rooms; on the other, there was only a twenty-feet tall fence that separated us from the khud of jungle in the mountain-drop. If the ball bounced down the mountain, well, sorry brother, day or night, you have to go get it.

I fell in the love with basketball, of course, and as time passed, I played on better courts at a higher level, and I stayed addicted to the game as a grew older. I had dreams of greater hoops glory, of course: dreams of playing for my school, or for the Indian national team, or counting down “3…2…1…” and hitting the buzzer-beating game-winner in the NBA Finals.

But I realised very early that these fantasies would remain fantastical. I knew that, despite the opportunities I got, it was already too little, too late.

Fortunately, a new generation of young Indian players can bring their fantasies closer to reality than my peers and I ever could. For this new generation of young hoop dreamers, the NBA is coming closer to India.

Partnering with the Reliance Foundation, the NBA made their most serious advance into grassroots basketball development in India in 2013, launching the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA programme, with plans to instruct over 100,000 school-kids. Fast-forward four years, and the 2017-18 season of the programme is aiming to engage more than 45 lakh youth from 34 cities nationwide. NBA-affiliated coaches are helping shape physical education curricula in schools and training coaches how to coach the right way. A new generation of kids, who would worry about the ball bouncing down the khud, could now have more opportunities to leap forward in the game than ever before.

In 2018, the best of these young talents will go international. Earlier this week, the NBA announced the inaugural Jr. NBA World Championship, a first-of-its-kind competition that will feature the top boys and girls teams ages 14-and-under from the United States and around the world.

The championship will tip off in spring 2018 around the world, featuring boys and girls divisions, each comprising 16 regional champions (eight US and eight international teams). The winning boys and girls teams from eight newly-created USA regional tournaments (Central, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Northeast, Northwest, South, Southeast and West), plus teams representing eight international regions (Africa & Middle East, Asia Pacific, Canada, China, Europe, India, Mexico and South America), will compete in the culminating event at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Osceola County, Florida, from August 7-12, 2018.

India will send two teams to the competition: one boys’, one girls’. The top performers in the 5-on-5 competitions from the Reliance Foundation Jr NBA Program will make for a city All-Star Team. One boys’ and one girls’ team from each of the eight participating cities will be selected to compete in a National Final. The winners of the National Final will then represent India at the Jr NBA World Championship.

The NBA has appointed Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dwyane Wade and Los Angeles Sparks forward Candace Parker as the lead global ambassadors for the World Championship. The championship could be basketball’s answer to the baseball’s popular international “Little League”.

This is fantastic news not just for young Indian players, but for youth basketball around the world. True, it is only a miniscule fraction of players that will actually get to play in the final event, but the dream of playing in a major junior international tournament should trickle down and inspire young players around the country.

Whether you’re a kid like I was--shooting baskets at a tree-trunk—or an elite young athlete suiting up for India’s youth teams, this is an exciting new development. The opportunity to compete for the best junior teams in India should propel the competitive spirit of more young players, and reward the best ones with an opportunity to showcase their skills at a global stage.

January 1, 2018

2017: The Year in Indian Basketball

In Indian basketball, 2017 was a year of oscillating waves: encouraging highlights followed by major disappointments, leading to more highs and more lows. Indian basketball players like Amjyot Singh, Amritpal Singh, Kavita Akula, and others took major strides in testing international waters, while we hosted a number of major international tournaments on home soil. The national teams had a mixed year, however: the men’s squad struggling in international matches, while the women played level in Asia’s lower division. On the NBA development front, a number of new projects were launched to propel Indian hoops forward, culminating with a memorable trip by Kevin Durant.

Here’s a look back at the year’s biggest highlights.

The basketball calendar began, as it usually does, with the Senior National Championship. Held in Puducherry from January 7-14, this year’s edition marked two stories of redemption, as 2016 runners-up Uttarakhand (Men) and Kerala (Women) won gold. Over 50 combined men and women’s teams from across India took part in the tournament.

The final stage of India’s largest collegiate-level basketball tournament—the UBAU All India Inter-Zonal University Basketball Championship for Men—was won by Patiala’s Punjab University in Chandigarh in late February.

The most-hyped and stacked fourth season of UBA Basketball League came to a conclusion with the Finals in Goa in mid-March. The Mumbai Challengers, a team stacked with stars like Alex Scales, Jagdeep Singh Bains, Prasanna Venkatesh, Inderbir Gill, Jimmy Scroggins, and more, completed a 2-0 sweep of the Bengaluru Beast to win their first title. Indian basketball star of the Beast Vishesh Bhriguvanshi was named season 4 MVP.

The Federation Cup, a tournament featuring the top men’s clubs and women’s state teams in India, was held in Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu) from March 22-26. Dehradun’s ONGC won their fifth-consecutive title while Chhattisgarh bounced back after finals losses the last two years to bag the women’s championship.

In Mumbai, the NBA launched its first-ever Basketball School for India in early April. These schools have a network of tuition-based basketball development programmes. The second one was launched in Delhi later in the year.

Four of India's top basketball players from the national Men's team—Amjyot Singh, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, Amritpal Singh, and Yadwinder Singh—headed to Melbourne to take part in Australia's National Basketball League's (NBL) Draft Combine on April 17-18.

The NBA opened the NBA India Academy, an elite basketball training centre, at Jaypee Greens Integrated Sports Complex in Greater Noida (UP) for the top male and female prospects from throughout India in early May. Twenty-one elite male prospects, who were selected following a three-month, nationwide basketball talent search, received scholarships and training at the Academy.

Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried visited India in mid-May to cover the playoffs for the NBA and visit the Taj Mahal.

With four resounding victories in four games, India's Senior Men's national basketball team won their fifth consecutive title at the South Asian Basketball Association (SABA) Basketball Championship, held in Male, Maldives, from May 19-23. The team had a strong mix of youth and experience, led by head coach Sappaniambalam Baskar, captained by Akilan Pari, and under the leadership of star players Amritpal Singh and Vishesh Bhriguvanshi.

Indonesia’s women and China’s men struck gold in the third edition of the FIBA 3x3 U18 Asia Cup, held in the Gem-In Shopping Mall in Cyberjaya, Malaysia from May 26-28, 2017. Both of India's teams lost on the first day of the tournament in the qualifying round. 

Talented guard Kavita Akula (21)—from Bhilai, Chhattisgarh—made history by becoming the first Indian-born basketball player to receive full scholarship from a Division 1 college in the United States, the Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona.

The Basketball Federation of India (BFI) officially announced the appointment of seasoned Serbian Coach Zoran Visic as the new Head Coach of the Indian women's national team from June 1. Visic (61) has been the head coach of Yugoslavia's Women's national team, Serbian junior national team, and has coached professionally in Serbia, Russia, and most-recently, in Romania, over the past 22 years

From June 4-11 in Greater Noida, the finest U-18 teams in the nation took part in the 68th Junior National Basketball Championship. Tamil Nadu (Girls) and Punjab (Boys) rose above the rest and claimed gold at the tournament.  

Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, one of the most experienced and talented players produced by Indian basketball, made history in early July by becoming the first player to be signed by Australia's National Basketball League (NBL). He was offered a one-year training contract by the Adelaide 36ers for their forthcoming season. This contract meant that Bhriguvanshi will be a part of the team as a reserve to train with the club, but will only get to play if he replaces an injured player. Bhriguvanshi injured himself at the BRICS Games and wasn’t available for Adelaide.

The BRICS Games were held in Guangzhou, China, in mid-June, and the basketball tournament at the Games was won by Russia. The Indian team got some good exposure and international practice but finished bottom (fourth) after losing all three of their games.

Two of India's most-famed factories of young basketball talent - Tamil Nadu and Punjab - continued to stamp their authority at the game's youth level when both emerged as victors at the 34th Youth (U16) National Basketball Championship for Men and Women in Hyderabad in early July.

India’s Women’s squad got their first international outing under Visic in mid-July at the 39th William Jones Cup in Chinese Taipei. Japan won the round-robin tournament while India finished with a 0-5 record at last place (sixth).

Experienced NBA coach Phil Weber was hired to be the coach of India’s Senior Men’s basketball team for the FIBA Asia Cup. Weber came to India after spending several decades as an assistant coach for the New York Knicks, Phoenix Suns, and New Orleans Pelicans in the NBA. He returned to the US at the start of the NBA season to get a front office role with the Pelicans.

Weber had no time to get acquainted with the new squad; a depleted team headed to Chinese Taipei for the men’s edition of the William Jones Cup from July 15-23. 3D Canada won the tournament while India—captained by Rikin Pethani—lost all nine of their games and finished at last place.

India hosted a major international FIBA tournament for the first time since 2009. It was the FIBA Asia Women’s Championship in Bengaluru’s Sri Kantaveera Stadium from July 23-29. Japan won a three-peat of titles in this tournament with a nail-biting final win over Australia. India were in the lower Division B and enjoyed a successful campaign, winning all five of their games—including a spectacular final over Kazakhstan—in front of home fans to secure entry to Division A for the next iteration of the tournament. Anitha Paul Durai, who returned to captain the team after maternity leave, was one of India’s brightest sparks, and was assisted by strong performances by Grime Merlin Varghese, Raspreet Sidhu, Kavita Akula, Jeena Scaria, Rajapriyadarshani Rajaganapathi, and the hero of the final, Shireen Limaye.

Basketball Hall of Famer and Chinese Basketball superstar Yao Ming visited India for the FIBA Asia Women’s Cup in Bengaluru.

After an ugly spat between competing committees of the Basketball Federation of India led to the de-recognition of the federation last year, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports finally granted recognition to the “new” BFI in July.

2017 NBA Champion, Finals MVP, and super-duper star Kevin Durant became the greatest basketball player to touch down on Indian soil near the end of July. Durant donated courts in New Delhi, set a Guinness World Record with a massive training session at the NBA India Academy in Greater Noida, and visited the Taj Mahal during his trip.

Australia won the FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon at the high-level tournament, which lasted from August 8-20. Meanwhile Team India, despite sending a full-strength team on paper, suffered from injuries and lack of full preparation, and returned from Lebanon winless and ousted at the preliminary group stage 0-3. Amjyot Singh was one of India’s few bright sparks at the tournament as the team’s leading scorer. Amritpal Singh, Arvind Annadurai, and Baladhaneshwar Poiyamozhi showed flashes of good play in some of the games.

Prashanti Singh, the 33-year-old shooting guard born in Varanasi, was conferred the prestigious Arjuna Award by the President of India Ram Nath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on National Sports Day, August 29. Singh was among a list of 17 Indian athletes to receive the Arjuna Award on Tuesday, from sports including Cricket, Hockey, Paralympics, Golf, and more. She became the 20th Indian basketball player to receive the Arjuna Award and just the third woman on the list.

After impressing the team in draft workouts, training camps, and a pre-season tour, Indian basketball star Amritpal Singh was signed by the NBL’s Sydney Kings in Australia, and became the first Indian to be named to an NBL roster. Singh has been a backup player for the Kings through the first few months of the season.

With clinical brilliance, India's under-16 men's squad made no mistake as they blew past their opponents to win the 2nd South Asian Basketball Association (SABA) Championship in Kathmandu, Nepal, held from September 5-9. The triumph helped India showcase several of the country's exciting new basketball talents and secured the team's qualification for the larger challenge ahead: The FIBA Asia U16 Championship. 

Lebanon’s Al Riyadi won the 2017 FIBA Asia Champions Cup in Chenzhou, China. I ndia's representative at the FIBA Asia CC was once again Dehradun's squad ONGC - champions of the Federation Cup. But missing a couple of their key players to injury or other professional duties, ONGC lost all of their preliminary round games to return winless from Chenzhou - just like last year. 

At the NBA G-League draft on October 21, Indian basketball star Amjyot Singh was drafted by the Oklahoma City Blue with the 103rd pick of the day. Amjyot performed well in training and was named to the team’s roster for the start of the season in early November. He became the second Indian to play in the G-League after Satnam Singh, and has been playing bit minutes for the Blue ever since.

Former NBA point guard Andre Miller visited India in the end of October, visiting Delhi’s NBA Basketball School, the NBA India Academy, and the ‘Around the Hoop’ show in Mumbai.

For the second time this year, India played host to one of FIBA Asia's marquee basketball events in the region, with the top youth women from over a dozen Asian nations descending into Bengaluru's Sri Kantaveera Stadium for the 2017 FIBA U16 Asia Championship for Women. As the week-long tournament concluded on Saturday, October 28th, newcomers Australia - playing under the Asian banner for the first time - took the gold medal with a thrilling win over Japan in the final. India, meanwhile, began the tournament in the lower Division B. With many encouraging performances, India dominated the second-tier of the competition, winning all of their games in comfortable fashion and securing a qualification to Division A in front of their home fans. The biggest star to emerge for India from this championship was Uttar Pradesh girl Vaishnavi Yadav. The team’s captain Pushpa Senthil Kumar and guard Neha Karwa also played well.

In Mongolia, the top 3x3 basketball teams from Asia and Oceania took part in the 2nd FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup in Ulaanbaatar from October 27-29. A total of 27 men and women's teams participated in this quickfire tournament, including teams from India. By the end of Sunday, hosts Mongolia took home the Men's gold in front of their home fans, while Australian women finished atop their division. India’s Women were ousted in the semi-final stage and Men failed to make it out of the group stage.

The first-ever window of FIBA's new World Cup qualifying process began around the world this week. These qualifiers were an incredible opportunity to widen the road to the 2019 Basketball World Cup and allow each team in the preliminary stage to play in home-and-away games in the lead-up to the main event for the next few years. India, who were placed in Group C of the First Round of Asian Qualifiers, began their long journey to the World Cup in opening clashes against Lebanon and Syria in the last week of November. Coached by Zoran Visic, the team was unfortunately short-handed and failed to deliver, playing uninspiring basketball to lose both their qualifying games. They already have a gruelling path ahead of them with four more group stage games left over the next eight months. 

2018 is here, and there is bound to be a lot more developments across the Indian “hoopsphere” over the next twelve months. Hopefully, this year is more consistently successful than the last and produced many more shining stars.