July 30, 2018

New Zealand win 2018 William Jones Cup for Women; India (0-5) finish last

The women's tournament 2018 William Jones Cup - an invitational basketball tournament held in New Taipei City, Taiwan over the past week - came to a conclusion on Sunday after five days of round-robin action among the six participating teams. With a perfect 5-0 record, New Zealand emerged as champions of this year's event. India's squad also participated, but lost every game with a blowout margin to finish at last place.

The William Jones Cup was held from July 25-29 and serve as a preparatory event for the larger challenge ahead: the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia next month. India faced all the participating teams in the round-robin tournament, including two squads from the home side Chinese Taipei, reigning women's Asia champions and last year's William Jones champions Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand.

New Zealand rounded up their perfect record with a win over their biggest likely challengers - Japan - in the final day of the tournament, 85-74. Ashleigh Karaitiana ended the tournament as NZ's leading scorer, averaging 22 points per game.

Team India were coached by former national player and referee Shiba Maggon and led by the squad's most-talented player as captain, Jeena Scaria. Other important pieces in the roster included experienced guard Raspreet Sidhu, Shireen Limaye, Anjana Prasannan Geetha, Stephy Nixon, and more.

India began their campaign in a trial by fire, against eventual winners New Zealand, who ran rampant en route to a 114-39 victory. Karaitiana single-handedly outscored Team India with 40 points in the win.

In Game 2, Japan used a balanced offence with six players scoring in double digits to beat India 94-38.

India lost again in their third game to South Korea (Eunsil Choi 22) 101-48.

India had a relatively better scoring performance in their fourth game against the first of two home teams, Taiwan A, but the hosts still won comfortably 102-54. Scaria led India with 17 points in the loss.

In their final game, India lost to the second host team, Taiwan B, 91-60. This was, technically, India's closest game, and Pushpa Senthil Kumar led the squad with 16 points. Wei Yu Chun (20) and Hsi-Yeh Liu (17) led the way for Taiwan.

The 5x5 basketball tournament at the 2018 Asian Games will be held from August 19 to September 1 in Jakarta, Indonesia. India have been drawn in Group X of the tournament along with Korea, Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, and Kazakhstan.

July 27, 2018

India's rosters announced for inaugural Jr. NBA World Championship in Florida, USA

Can you imagine the basketball future? The ways in which the game will evolve? How the strategies will change, what type of new players will be the dominant force? Where would these players even come from? Around the world, junior players rise up the ranks in grassroots schools and other tournaments in their respective countries, all until they are old enough to represent their nation or play professionally at a big stage. Now, for the first time, the NBA will bring together the top young talents from around the world under one metaphorical roof, providing a glance of the future of the game.

And yes, India will play a part in this event, too.

From August 7-12, 2018, the NBA will host the inaugural Jr. NBA World Championship at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida. On Thursday, the NBA announced rosters of all 32 teams that will compete in this first-of-its kind global youth basketball tournament for the top 13-14 year-old boys and girls teams from around the world. There will a total of 317 young players from 35 countries. NBA India also announced the junior boys and girls teams who won their domestic challenge and will represent India at the World Championship.

Current and former NBA and WNBA stars like stars like Dwyane Wade, Andre Drummond, Vince Carter, Brook Lopez, Grant Hill, Tamika Catchings, Swin Cash and Jennifer Azzi will participate in on and off-court activities with the young players.

The inaugural event will bring together the top 32 boys and girls teams (16 U.S. and 16 international) that advanced from regional competitions earlier this year. The 16 international teams (eight boys and eight girls teams) represent Africa and Middle East, Asia Pacific, Canada, China, Europe, India, Mexico and South America. 16 US teams won newly created regional tournaments to advance to Orlando.

"After several months of highly competitive regional competitions around the world, we are excited to bring together a field of 32 teams that not only excel on the court, but also represent the Jr. NBA’s core values of teamwork, respect, determination and community," said Kathy Behrens, NBA President, Social Responsibility and Player Programmes. "We are looking forward to an exciting week of on- and off-court activities that will provide these young players with a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

"The Jr. NBA World Championship is more than a basketball competition; it’s a global stage for some of the top youh players from around the world to showcase their talent, have fun and learn from one another," said Wade. "I am excited to watch these young stars leave it all on the court and compete for the first Jr. NBA World Championship title."

The Jr. NBA World Championship will feature boys and girls divisions, separated into US and international brackets that begin with round-robin play and continue with single-eliminations competition. The winners of the US and international brackets will play in the World Championship games on Aug. 12.

From Aug. 6-8, each player will participate in three life skills sessions as part of the event’s Developing the Total Athlete Series, covering the total health spectrum of mind, body and spirit in a culturally inclusive environment. The Jr. NBA World Championship Day of Service on Aug. 9 will feature all 32 teams giving back to the local community by collectively building a new playground for community youth at the nearby Oak Street Park. Additionally, Gatorade will host a health and wellness session through the Gatorade Sports Science Institute which will educate participants on hydration measures and provide custom fuelling recommendations for each athlete.

Click here for full rosters of all 32 teams.

India's Girls Roster
  • Vedaa Anand
  • Shreya Ashok
  • Nuha Asif Masood
  • Shreya Bose
  • Sunishka Karnik
  • Diya Kothari
  • Meghana Manjunatha
  • Moumita Mishra
  • Hamsa Nanjudaiah
  • Smriti Vemula
  • Coach: Prasanna Venkatesh
  • Assistant Coach: Sonal Nambiar

India's Boys Roster
  • Sehajbir Singh Bedi
  • Bhavik Garg
  • Jeevanshu Khatri
  • Nikhil Kumar
  • Dinesh Pal
  • Yatish Sakhuja
  • Abhishek Singh
  • Arpit Singla
  • Laivish Vats
  • Sachin Yadav
  • Coach: Siddharth Dalal
  • Assistant Coach: Devojyoti Karmarkar

July 25, 2018

India's Women begin 2018 William Jones Cup today: roster, schedule, and preview

The last time we saw India's women's basketball team in serious international action was almost a year ago. It was a celebration. With the help of a miraculous buzzer-beating, game-winner by Shireen Limaye, India won Division B of the FIBA Asia Women's Cup in front of home fans in Bengaluru. That exhilarating victory has since been followed by a long period of silence. Without any upcoming international opportunities, the squad has been dispersed to focus on domestic events.

Rejoice now, fans. This week, Team India will return to international action as they take part in the 2018 William Jones Cup for Women, set to be held in New Taipei City in Chinese Taipei. This six-team invitational tournament will be held from July 25-29 and serve as a preparatory event for the larger challenge ahead: the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia next month.

India will face all the participating teams in the round-robin tournament, including two squads from the home side Chinese Taipei, reigning women's Asia champions and William Jones champions Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand.

Team India is being coached by former national player and referee Shiba Maggon and led by the squad's most-talented player as captain, Jeena Scaria. Other important pieces in the roster include experienced guard Raspreet Sidhu, Shireen Limaye, Anjana Prasannan Geetha, Stephy Nixon, and more. The squad was finalised after a training camp in Bengaluru over the past month.

Team India roster for 2018 William Jones Cup
  • Anjana Prasannan Geetha
  • Sangeeta Kaur
  • Stephy Nixon
  • Bhandavya Hemmige Mahesha
  • Pushpa Senthil Kumar
  • Raspreet Sidhu
  • Madhu Kumari
  • Priyanaka Prabhakara
  • Rajapriyadharshini Rajaganapathi
  • Jeena Skaria
  • Shireen Vijay Limaye
  • Sanjana Ramesh

India's schedule for 2018 William Jones Cup
  • July 25: India vs. New Zealand
  • July 26: India vs. Japan
  • July 27: India vs. South Korea
  • July 28: India vs. Chinese Taipei A
  • July 29: India vs. Chinese Taipei B

India played their first game against New Zealand on Wednesday and lost 114-39.

India took part in last year's William Jones Cup for Women and finished last after an 0-5 record.

With such a difficult fray of opponents, it is unlikely that India will be able to pick up any victories in Taipei this week. Their best hope is that this tournament serves as practice and prep for the Asian Games, where they will play a more mixed group of opponents and have an opportunity to spring a few surprises.

The 5x5 basketball tournament at the 2018 Asian Games will be held from August 19 to September 1 in Jakarta, Indonesia. India have been drawn in Group X of the tournament along with Korea, Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, and Kazakhstan.

Due to a decision by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), India's Men's basketball team and 3x3 basketball teams will not be sent to Indonesia for the Asian Games. India's Men's team didn't participate in last week's William Jones Cup for Men, either. The tournament was won for the second year running by 3D Canada.

July 24, 2018

Khelo India selects 40 young basketball players for talent development scholarship

Over the past weekend, Khelo India - India's national programme for the development of sports - announced an encouraging new Talent Development Programme, a scholarship that will be awarded to athletes to take care of their expenses including training, development, boarding and lodging, and tournament exposure. Khelo India chose 734 athletes from 18 sporting disciplines for an annual stipend of Rs. 1.2 Lakh each.

Among the identified talent, Khelo India has chosen 40 youth basketball players for the programme. See the full list of chosen athletes here.

Basketball players chosen for Khelo India's Talent Development Programme:
  • Boys: Pratyanshu Tomar, Prasant Tomar, Arun, Arvinder Singh, Tamaliya Kuldeep Singh, Amarender Nayak, Bhagyansh Gulati, Prasun Mishra, M. Arvind Kumar, TS Santosh, Zonunsanga, Harshpal Singh, Vikrant, Rajveer Singh Bhati, Mohd. Sahil, Jai Prakash, Nitish Beniwal, Deepak Choudhary, Mahendra Pratap Singh, Aaryan Singh Lather, Rajan, Ankit.
  • Girls: Ritika, Meenu, Liza Deb, Ria Dubey, Tavleen Kaur Bhandal, Priyanka Behal, Pragati Ray, Vanshita Singh, Neha Shahu, Sanjana Ramesh, Riya Baliyan, Alankrita Singh, Saachia Nathan, Vrinda, Harsimran Kaur, Yshneet Kaur, Krithika S., Khushi Ahlawat.

A talent identification committee was formed comprising Arjuna Awardees and Dronacharya Awardees to shortlist and propose the names of the beneficiaries after this year's Khelo India School Games to the High Powered Committee, which cleared the names of the junior athletes selected.

July 23, 2018

NBA Global Academy win NBA Academy Games in Australia; India's squad also participated

From July 14-21, some of the top youth basketball prospects from around the world - handpicked by the NBA - converged for an international basketball confluence to Australia for the 2nd NBA Academy Games and Basketball Australia Prospects Camp. Held at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, this tournament/camp featured NBA Academy teams representing Latin America, Africa, China, India, and of course, local Australian prospects.

Participants came from Academies based in Australia, China, India, Mexico and Senegal, along with five teams comprised of 50 top prospects from Australia, including Basketball Australia’s Centre of Excellence team, for a total of 120 prospects from 18 countries. Participants engaged in a series of exhibition games, on-court drills, professional skill development and daily life skills sessions.

At the conclusion of the 'Academy Games' on Saturday, July 21, the NBA Global Academy squad defeated NBA Academy Latin America 79-74. Global Academy had a commanding 18-point lead late in the third quarter before Latin America stormed back to bring the game within one possession late in the fourth quarter. Global Academy’s strong resolve down the stretch helped the champions maintain their lead and secure the victory. Hyunjung Lee of Global Academy scored 21 points to lead all scorers.

The BA Prospects A defeated NBA Academy Africa 77-70 to finish third, led by Brandon Freire (23) and Kobe Williamson (18).

A post shared by NBA Academy (@nbaacademy) on

This year was the NBA Academy India squad's first opportunity to take part in this competition. The squad featured up-and-coming Indian prospects like Amaan Sandhu, Brijesh Tiwari, Riyanshu Negi, Achintya Krishna, Pritish Jitesh Kokate, and more. The team was coached by Jacques Vandescure. Although the Indian team didn't make it too far in the single-elimination knockout stage, they picked up important experience as the youngest squad in the tournament against other international prospects.

July 19, 2018

Hoopdarshan Episode 66: Chicago Indo-Pak National Basketball and greatest Desi Ballers with Vik Chokshi

This weekend, the top players of South Asian descent in North America will converge in Chicago for the annual Chicago Indo-Pak Nationals. Co-organizer Vik Chokshi joins Hoopdarshan in Episode 66 to discuss the history and legacy of this tournament, the greatest desi ballers in North America, and his love for the Chicago Bulls.

Aside from his work for the Indo-Pak Nationals, Chokshi also writes for The Big Lead.

In Episode 66, Hoopdarshan co-hosts Kaushik Lakshman and Karan Madhok also discuss a myriad of other topics, including Indian basketball's teams FIBA World Cup qualifiers performance, the new-look Lakers with LeBron James, the best teams and moments from the FIFA World Cup, and Cristiano Ronaldo's move to Juventus.

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...

July 14, 2018

India win South Asian Qualifying round of the FIBA U-18 Asian Basketball Championship in Dhaka

Once again, India has ensured that all routes of success in South Asian basketball will go through them. India's junior basketball squad impressed at the South Asian Qualifying round of the FIBA U18 Asian Basketball Championship in Dhaka, Bangladesh earlier this week. A 4-0 finish in the tournament helped India finished atop the standings and qualified the team for the all Asia version of FIBA's U18 championship, scheduled to be held next month.

India's results from SABA Qualifying Round of FIBA U18 Asian Basketball Championship:
  • India 112-53 Sri Lanka.
  • India 94-48 Nepal.
  • India 107-47 Bangladesh.
  • India 116-60 Maldives.

India won each game by an average margin of over 55 points. Point guard Rajeev Kumar was the team's top scorer, averaging 26 ppg in India's four victories.

The FIBA U18 Asian Championship will be held in Nonthaburi and Bangkok in Thailand from August 5-11, 2018. India have been drawn in Group D of the tournament with Korea, Chinese Taipei, and hosts Thailand. Iran won the 2016 edition of the tournament while India took a leap to 8th place.

July 11, 2018

3BL team Delhi Hoopers to represent India at FIBA 3x3 World Tour Masters in Japan

We are only halfway through the first season of the 3BL, India's first-ever 3x3 basketball league, and there's already a dominant powerhouse that has separated itself from the rest of the fray. The Delhi Hoopers have won all three rounds of the league so far in Delhi, Aizawl, and Kolkata, and find themselves comfortably at the top of the standings. With three more rounds to go for the first season, the Hoopers are favourites to take the crown out of the 12-team league.

But first, they will get a chance at some international exposure. The Hoopers will be the first team to represent India at an international 3x3 basketball platform, at the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Masters in Utsunomiya, Japan on July 28-29. The World Tour leg in Japan is the Utsunomiya World Tour Masters, which could also give the participants a chance to be qualified for the World Tour Finals 2018 in Beijing, China based on their performance in Japan.

The Hoopers are boosted by Indian-American Inderbir Singh Gill (MVP of Round 1 and 2), Kiran Shastri (Round 2 MVP), Dhruv Barman, and Harkirat Jattana Singh.

Rohit Bakshi, commissioner of the 3BL said, "We are amazed by all the teams’ performances so far this season. Being a basketball enthusiast myself, I am proud to send Delhi Hoopers to World Tour Masters in Utsunomiya. Team will aim for the Champion trophy, which is one of the biggest milestones for Indian Basketball and the ticket to World Tour Final in China. We can’t wait to witness India’s gameplay in Japan."

"3x3 basketball in India has kept getting bigger and better since the time we began the season in June," said Vivek Krishna, the 3BL's Entertainment Director. "An international stage will give huge opportunities to the Delhi Hoopers team, and we are excited to see how well they play in Japan."

Round 4 of the 3BL League will be held in Chennai on July 21-22.

July 6, 2018

India's Women basketball team drawn for 2018 Asian Games; Men's and 3x3 teams to not feature

This is what happens when sports becomes a pursuit of the destination - instead of the journey itself.

In the lead up to the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has come under scrutiny for excluding a number of Indian sports teams - including India's men and women's football squads - after they were deemed "incompetent" to win any medals. IOA officials stressed that they only wanted to send athletes from disciplines that gave them a chance at glory, disregarding those for whom the experience of participation - even if unsuccessful - could've been extremely valuable.

India's basketball contingent, after a rough and tumultuous year, has been one of the victims of this decision. When the Asian Games tip off in Jakarta and Palembang from August 18, India will only be sending their Women's basketball team to the tournament. India's Men's squad - who have lost their last 23 competitive games in various international tournaments - were not included. India will also not be sending 3x3 basketball teams to the event.

A total contingent of 524 Indian athletes will be heading to Indonesia for next month's Asian Games.

India's Women's squad have been in camp in Bengaluru in preparation under head coach Shiba Maggon. The team won FIBA Asia Cup Division B title last year and got promoted to Division A for the upcoming FIBA Asia Cup.

Asian Games Women's Basketball Groups
  • Group A: Korea, Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, India.
  • Group B: China, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Mongolia.

India's Men's exclusion from the tournament is a pity, and it displays both the continuing failure of the team as well as the IOA's shortsighted approach towards medal collection. Hopefully, the women's team can put up some strong performances and convince the officials back home of the potential of Indian basketball.

July 2, 2018

India lose to Syria and Jordan; finish 0-6 in First Round of 2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers

Two more games. Two more losses. And the end of India's short, ill-fated road to the Basketball World Cup.

Entering the third window of First Round 2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers with four losses out of four, India lost their last two games this week to Syria and Jordan away from home, dropping to 0-6 and crashing out before the next qualifying stage.

A depleted Indian squad were led to these final two games by Head Coach Sat Prakash Yadav, former NBA draft pick Satnam Singh, experienced forward Yadwinder Singh, and other auxiliary pieces like Akilan Pari and Arvind Arumugam. Several of India's best players including Amjyot Singh, Amritpal Singh, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, Aravind Annadurai, and Palpreet Singh Brar missed the team due to injury or suspension.

After losing to Syria in Bengaluru 74-57 in an earlier window, India's game against the Syrians was a must-win on Thursday for a chance of survival. Although Syria held a comfortable lead early and were up by double digits until the third quarter, India made a bold comeback late into the game, coming within one point of the hosts. Alas, in the last few minutes, India's inexperience showed, and Syria were able to hold on to a 81-76 win. Abdulwahab Alhamwi led Syria with 19 while Michael Madanly added 18 in the win. For India, the top performer was Satnam Singh, who contributed 18 points in the losing effort.

Jordan had defeated India 102-88 in Bengaluru earlier. On Sunday, at their home court, they won in an even more convincing fashion. Led by Ahmad HA Al Dwairi's 21 points, Jordan ran to a 22 point lead at halftime and continued to pressure India to win 114-70 by the end of the contest. Arvind Arumugam (23) and youngster Justin Joseph (17) were the high scorers for India.

Jordan finished top of Group C, with Lebanon at second place, Syria at third, and India last. The top three teams from the group will qualify for the next round.

For India, the silver lining of these disappointing losses has been the international experience gained by the players. Satnam Singh was India's most important and consistent player, playing all six games and leading the squad in accumulated minutes played, points, and rebounds. A group of young players got their first international outing, but the team as a whole looked disorganised and disoriented.

Team India will head home now and prepare for their next major international competition - the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia from mid-August. Hopefully, a few more of the important pieces can return to the squad, the decision to unfairly ban a couple more players can be overturned.