August 27, 2018

Income Tax (Chennai) win 5th edition of Mulki Sunder Ram Shetty tournament in Bengaluru

They'll whoop your squad and demand the receipts.

Chennai's Income Tax came, saw, and conquered at the 5th Mulki Sunder Ram Shetty All India Basketball Tournament, defeating the host team Vijaya Bank in front of a hostile crowd in Bengaluru on Sunday. The five-day tournament featured seven invited Men's club teams from around the country at the Beagles Indoor Basketball Stadium in Malleswaram, Bengaluru.

Undefeated in the tournament and having already notched a group stage victory over Vijaya Bank, Income Tax were determined to cap off their campaign on a high. After Vijaya Bank took an early lead, the 'Taxmen' bounced back with a 26-14 run in the second quarter to create some separation between the squads. Vijaya Bank turned up their defensive intensity in the fourth for a late comeback, but a clutch late lay-up by Income Tax's G. Sivabalan helped secure the 76-72 victory. Ravi Kumar scored 26 to lead IT in the final and Jeevanantham Pandi added 16. Vijaya Bank were led by Anil Kumar (27) and Arvind Arumugam (20).

Sivabalan was named the tournament's MVP.

Also on the final day, Lonavala's Indian Navy defeated 2017 champions Chennai's Integral Coach Factory (ICF) to secure the bronze medal. Mahipal Singh led with 23 for Navy's 69-59 victory.

Participating teams in the tournament included Vijaya Bank (Bengaluru), Indian Customs (Pune), Indian Navy (Lonavala), ICF (Chennai), Income Tax (Chennai), Telangana, and Karnataka. Reigning champions IOB (Chennai) did not take part this year.

Along with trophies, cash prizes of Rs. 1,00,000/- for the winners, Rs. 50,000/- for the runners-up, and Rs. 25,000/- and Rs. 10,000 for the 3rd and 4th place teams respectively, were awarded.

Final Results
  • Winners: Income Tax
  • Runners-up: Vijaya Bank
  • Third Place: Indian Navy
  • Fourth Place: ICF
  • MVP: G. Sivabalan (Income Tax)
  • Most Promising Player: Hareesh M. (Vijaya Bank)
  • Best Defensive Player: Clinton Andrews (Vijaya Bank)
  • Crowd Favourite: Ravi Kumar (Income Tax)

August 26, 2018

Delhi Hoopers win inaugural season of India's 3x3 pro basketball league

At the end, the result shocked nobody. 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. Delhi won the final Round 6 in Mumbai on Sunday, winning five of the total six rounds this season.

The inaugural season of 3x3BL in India featured 12 teams in six rounds in six different cities from June 9 to August 26, 2018, featuring several international, NRI, and domestic basketball players. Delhi Hoopers won the rounds at home in Delhi, Aizawl, Kolkata, Bengaluru, and Mumbai, with the solitary Round 4 (Chennai) which was won by Bangalore Machas.

The league was run by YKBK Enterprise, who have been granted the exclusive rights contract from FIBA 3x3 for the Indian subcontinent.

Delhi Hoopers - featuring Inderbir Singh Gill, Kiran Shastri, Dhruv Barman, and Harkirat Jattana Singh - won the final in Mumbai on Sunday with a 22-19 triumph over the Ahmedabad Wingers. The league-best squad represented India at the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Masters in Japan and have been selected for two further upcoming Masters events in Mexico City and Hyderabad.

August 24, 2018

Team “Delhi 3BL” to represent India in FIBA 3x3 World Tour Masters

In its very first season, a dominant power has already emerged from the 3x3BL, India's first pro 3x3 basketball league. This squad has been the Delhi Hoopers, league leaders and winners of four of the first five rounds of the tournament. Now, with the final round of the league looming in Mumbai, Delhi have qualified to participate in two tournaments in FIBA 3x3 World Tour Masters: Mexico City Masters (September 8-9, 2018) and Hyderabad Masters (September 22-23, 2018).

Delhi 3BL have already represented India at an international platform in 3x3 basketball for the first time at the Utsunomiya Masters in July 2018 and emerged ninth in the ranking charts. The current leader in 3BL score charts, they stand a chance to qualify for FIBA 3x3 World Tour Finals in Beijing, China in October 2018, too.

The 3x3BL's final round will be held in Mumbai on August 25-26.

Speaking about Delhi's qualification, Rohit Bakshi, League Commissioner, 3x3BL, said, "Delhi Hoopers have made history and set a benchmark for Indian 3x3 basketball players. Their participation in the FIBA World Tour Mexico City Masters and Hyderabad Masters will give them a chance to compete against the best players in the world and possibly qualify for the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Finals this year. I strongly believe they have the potential to end up as one of the best 3x3 teams in the world."

Pooja Bhatt, Actor/Filmmaker & Co-Owner of Delhi Hoopers said, "Delhi Hoopers has consistently delivered exceptional performances in the entire season of 3BL. They have been raising the bar with every single match with their talent and skills. I’m certain our players are going to make India proud at Mexico City Masters, Hyderabad Masters and eventually the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Finals in Beijing as well."

August 16, 2018

Indian-origin Sachin Gupta hired by the Detroit Pistons as Assistant General Manager

In another major breakthrough for South Asians in the NBA, experienced hoops analyst Sachin Gupta has been named the Assistant General Manager by the Detroit Pistons. Gupta becomes the first person of Indian-origin to be appointed at such an high executive position in the league.

"We are pleased to welcome Sachin Gupta to the Detroit Pistons organisation," said Ed Stefanski, Special Advisor to owner Tom Gores. "Sachin is a creative thinker, extremely intelligent, and has a great handle on the analytical side of basketball operations systems. His analytics and salary cap background will be a tremendous resource while serving a leadership role for our basketball operations team."

Gupta spent last season as a special advisor to Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey. Originally from the Boston-area, Gupta had begun his NBA career with the Rockets in 2006 where he laid the foundation for the team’s renowned and extensive analytics undertaking. He transitioned to the Philadelphia 76ers front office in 2013 as a consultant prior to the NBA Draft while finishing MBA studies at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. There, he was promoted to Vice President of Basketball Operations in 2014 and served as General Manager Sam Hinkie’s top lieutenant. He played a big role in the famous/infamous "Process" that rebuilt the 76ers back into a playoff contender.

Before joining the NBA, Gupta spent two years at ESPN where he had a hand in fostering basketball’s analytical movement, implementing advanced NBA metrics on before their use had become widespread across the league. While at ESPN, he also became well versed in the CBA when he developed the widely popular NBA Trade Machine. He has earned a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from MIT.

The Pistons recently fired Stan Van Gundy from his position as coach and president (with GM powers), and Stefanski has been serving the 'GM' role unofficially since. They named 2018 Coach of the Year Dwane Casey from the Raptors as their head coach going forward The team is in a place of flux right now, not good enough to be a true contender but with too much talent - Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, etc. - to tank. Gupta is likely to have an extremely active role in the team's next few major moves, on how to go forward with the talent at hand, how to handle the tricky salary-cap situation, whether to make changes to shoot for the top, stay in the purgatory of the NBA's "middle class", or blow it all up to start another "process".

Whatever happens, this hire is a major step for desi minds in the league, and hopefully opens the doors for more Indians involved in the NBA.

August 14, 2018

Asian Games 2018: India's Women's basketball team look to take a step forward in Indonesia - Roster, Schedule, and Preview

As Asia's biggest athletic extravaganza rolls back around after a long, four-year break, India's Women's Basketball team is ready and up for the challenge to take a step forward.

Indian basketball continues to hear cheers in the reverberations of that one memorable shot. Last year, Shireen Limaye hit a game-winning jumper as time expired in the Division B final to give India a Division B victory at the FIBA Asia Women's Cup in front of home fans in Bengaluru and qualified them back into Division A, the big leagues of Asian Women's Basketball. It has been relatively silent on the women's hoops scene since, but things finally revved up again a month ago when India sent a team to play the William Jones Cup in Taiwan. Playing against elite level competition, India returned winless, 0-5.

Now, a 12-strong women's squad has landed in Indonesia for the Asian Games 2018 - The Asiad - as India's sole basketball representatives. The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) made a disappointing decision not to invest on lower-ranked teams to travel for the event, and thus, India's Men's team will be staying home. India has also not sent teams for the Asiad's men and women's 3x3 basketball event. The 5x5 games will be held at the GBK Basketball Hall and the Istora Gelora Bung Karno in Jakarta from August 14 - September 1.

Led by coach Shiba Maggon, a former captain of the national team, India's Women will be looking to fly the flag high for Indian hoops. Four years ago, at the Asian Games 2014 in South Korea, they were the youngest team in the tournament and finished at sixth place (out of 11). India still has a relatively young roster, captained by star player Jeena Scaria, and they will be hoping to improve on their past performances among the ten-team fray.

Asian Games 2018 Women's Basketball Participants
  • Group X: Korea (Combined), Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, India.
  • Group Y: China, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Mongolia.

The top four teams from each group will proceed to the Quarter-Final stage. India only has to secure one victory in the group stage to ensure a top-four finish.

India's roster for Asian Games 2018
  • Sanjana Ramesh
  • Pushpa Senthil Kumar
  • Anjana Prasannan Geetha
  • Bhandavya Hemmige
  • Jeena Scaria - captain
  • Rajapriyadharshini Rajaganapathi
  • Raspreet Sidhu
  • Shireen Limaye
  • Priyanka Prabhakara
  • Madhu Kumari
  • Sangeeta Kaur
  • Stephy Nixon
  • Head Coach: Shiba Maggon

Scaria has been consistently the team's leader and best performer for the past few years, and the forward has helped usher in the team to a new era after the departure of Geethu Anna Rahul and Anitha Paul Durai. Limaye, India's game-winning hero and another multi-talented forward, is again a part of this squad. Experienced shooting guard Raspreet Sidhu will be looked upon for leadership and offensive prowess. Rajapriyadharshini Rajaganapathi could also prove to be an important part of the main rotation. Missing from the squad are point guard Kavita Akula and youngster Grima Merlin Varghese, both of whom were important contributors in last year's FIBA Asia Women's Cup.

India's Preliminary Round Schedule - all timings IST
  • August 17 - India vs. Kazakhstan - 2:30 PM
  • August 19 - Chinese Taipei vs. India - 8:30 AM
  • August 20 Korea vs. India - 8:30 AM
  • August 23 - India vs. Indonesia - 5 PM

Unlike a lot of international basketball tournaments, the schedule is well-spaced and India will find time for rest between some of the games in the preliminary round. Their matchup against Kazakhstan is sure to be fuelled with some bad blood, as it was Kazakhstan whom India defeated in the dramatic Division B final in Bengaluru last year. India and Kazakhstan have always been well-matched and this is sure to be one of the most competitive games of the tournament. India will play against a full-strength Chinese Taipei squad after losing to their 'A' and 'B' teams at the William Jones Cup last month. A combined Korea team will be a new challenge for India - South Korea defeated them last month at the Jones Cup, too. Finally, India will take on hosts Indonesia and a hostile home crowd. This should be a fun game, and if India can hold their nerves, they could use their size and shooting advantage to pull off a win.

This gives India two winnable opportunities (Kazakhstan and Indonesia) in the preliminary round. Their performances here will determine their seeding and matchup for the quarter-final stage, and if India can meet a favourable opponent (Thailand, Mongolia, or Hong Kong), they have a real shot at the semi-finals, too.

Group Y has two of the top contenders for the title, reigning Asian champs Japan and the powerhouses China. But the combined Korean team could also spring a surprise if this squad manages to mesh together and add to South Korea's 2014 Asian Games basketball title with another gold in Indonesia.

August 13, 2018

US Central win both boys and girls divisions of first-ever Jr. NBA World Championship

Over the past week, the future basketball stars from across the globe got their first major taste of the limelight, an opportunity to project their way forward if all the stars align for them. It was a gathering of the best under-14 players at the inaugural Jr. NBA World Championship at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida from August 7-12. And when the exciting phase of games concluded, teams representing US Central reminded the world that the United States are poised to remain frontrunners in global basketball in the near future, too.

The US Central girls team (Kansas City, Missouri) and US Central boys team (Overland Park, Kansas) won the Jr. NBA World Championship after the event's finals on Sunday. Central girls defeated the Europe girls team 68-38, while the Central boys defeated the Africa & Middle East boys team 60-50. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, three-time NBA Champion and Jr. NBA World Championship Global Ambassador Dwyane Wade and four-time WNBA Champion Sheryl Swoopes presented the winning teams with trophies in a ceremony following the games.

The first-of-its kind global youth basketball tournament featured 32 of the top 13- and 14-year-old boys and girls teams from around the world, including teams from India represented by Bengaluru (Girls) and Delhi (Boys).

India's Girls started their campaign with two massive losses on Day 1, losing 57-11 to Asia Pacific, and 75-28 to Europe. On the second day, however, the team showed class to defeat South America 40-37. India were eventually defeated in the first round of the knockout stage by China, 62-31.

India's Boys also lost their two Day 1 games, to Europe 75-34 and to Asia Pacific 59-46. South America beat India on Day 2 59-46. In the first round of the knockout stage, eventual finalists Africa and Middle East knocked out India 86-29.

India's Girls player Sunishka Kartik was handed the Community Award at the end of the tournament. Before the event began, both of India's teams enjoyed a lunch hosted by NBA player Brook Lopez, who had formed a kinship with the teams when he was present at the NBA Academy India for the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA finals earlier this summer.

August 11, 2018

Australia win 2018 FIBA U18 Asian Championship in Thailand; India knocked out in pre-quarter finals

After FIBA restructured some of its continental championships last year, Oceania's finest squads - Australia and New Zealand - took part in the FIBA U18 Asian Championship for the first time in this year's edition. And their debut in the junior Asian fray couldn't have been grander: both squads sliced past the new competition to make the final of the tournament in Nonthaburi, Thailand. And on Friday, it was Australia who repeated the achievements of their senior team at last year's FIBA Asia Cup and came up as victors in the U18 division, too.

India's U18 squad also took part in the tournament, and although they were ousted in the pre-quarter finals, showed some positive glimpses of potential for the future of the game here.

The final of FIBA Asia U18 was held at Stadium 29 in Nonthaburi on Friday, August 10, 2018. Australia and New Zealand, familiar neighbours, played a gritty game where the Aussies kept a steady lead, but the Kiwis always stayed close and never allowed their opponents to get comfortable. Australia took a 15-point first quarter lead, but NZ closed the gap to just seven by the end of the third period, before Australia pulled away with a 72-63 win. Koby Stattman scored 17 for the victors, while Maxwell Darling (20), Kruz Ambrose Roger Perrott-Hunt (16), and Flynn Macpherson Cameron (16) carried the scoring load for NZ in the loss.

China exacted revenge on the Philippines to win 76-57 in the bronze medal game, after losing to the same opponent earlier in the group stage. Quanze Wang scored a game-high 27 for China while Jie Xu added 18. Kai Zachary Sotto led Philippines with 16.

Australia, New Zealand, China, and Philippines qualified to represent FIBA Asia in the 2019 FIBA Under-19 Basketball World Cup.

India came into this tournament having convincingly won the South Asian Qualifying round of the FIBA U18 Asian Basketball Championship in Dhaka. India was coached by Aman Sharma and will feature exciting young players such as Rajeev Kumar, Prashant Tomar, Harshwardhan Tomar, Seijin Mathew, Princepal Singh, and Rajveer Singh Bhati in their roster. The squad was drawn into Group D of the preliminary round with Chinese Taipei, Korea, and Syria.

In many past tournaments, India has virtually conceded the matchups against the higher-echelon Asian opponents and focused only on the 'winnable' games. But from the first tip against Chinese Taipei in Thailand, it was clear that this team had different ideas. India took an early lead over the team from Taiwan and held a surprising eight-point advantage to begin the fourth quarter. Alas, the famous late-game jitters plaguing Indian basketball struck this team, too, and Chinese Taipei bounced back to eke out a close win, 83-80. Fan Po-Yen Chen and Yan Ting Lin each scored 17 for Chinese Taipei. India were led by Princepal Singh (17) and Seijin Mathew (16).

India faced Korea in Game 2, and very quickly, Korea turned the game into an offensive masterclass. Korea led by 18 in the first quarter and kept up their hot shooting streak to explode for a 134-95 victory led by Hyunjung Lee (30), Jiung Bae (24), and Jun Seok Yeo (16). Although they had no answers for Korea defensively, India enjoyed a good offensive outing, too, led by a breakout 40-point, 7-assist performance by Rajeev Kumar and 24 points by Princepal Singh.

India needed a win to make it out of the group stage, and they got it in their last preliminary round contest against Syria. The tables were now turned and India were the aggressors, opening with a 27-13 first quarter, leading by 29 at halftime, and cruising to a 100-59 win. Kumar was again India's star man with 32 points to lead all scorers.

The victory meant that India finished at third-place in their group and were awarded a knockout game opportunity to make the top-8. Alas, their pre-quarter final opponent was New Zealand, one of the toughest teams at the tournament. India fearlessly got off to a good start to match NZ 21-21 at the end of the first quarter. But James William Moors (20) and Oscar Frewin Oswald (17) helped NZ stretch their lead over the next two periods to a considerable advantage and eventually settle to a comfortable win, 109-76.

India thus ended their campaign with a 1-3 record, knocked out before the quarter-final.

Although they technically couldn't match their 2016 eighth-place finish at this tournament, this was nevertheless a very encouraging outing for Team India's juniors. The team showed great confidence against teams that historically thrash India to smithereens. Even their losses showed promise, like the big lead over Chinese Taipei, the offensive output against Korea, and the positive start versus New Zealand. The big win over Syria was an affirmative announcement that these young players are going to be a problem for Asian opponents in the future.

Averaging 22.0 ppg, Rajeev Kumar finished as the second-leading scorer at the entire tournament! Kumar also chipped in a team-high 3.8 assists per game. Promising big man Princepal Singh nearly averaged a double-double as India's second-leading scorer with 15.5 ppg and leading rebounder (9.8). Pratyanshu Tomar was a strong force on the defensive end and in gathering rebounds all tournament, while Seijin Mathew (10.5 ppg) also played consistently well.

Many of these players will now graduate to the senior squad and challenge some of the country's established stars. With this important experience under their belts, hopefully a handful of them can become the next big things for Indian basketball.

2018 FIBA U18 Asian Championship - Final Standings
  • 1. Australia
  • 2. New Zealand
  • 3. China
  • 4. Philippines
  • 5. Japan

August 8, 2018

Hoopdarshan Episode 67: 3X3BL Commissioner Rohit Bakshi on the 3x3 pro basketball league in India

In Episode 67 of Hoopdarshan, Rohit Bakshi, the Commissioner of 3x3BL - the FIBA-affiliated 3x3 pro basketball league in India - talked to Kaushik Lakshman and Karan Madhok about the league's unlikely inception, dealing with speed-bumps in the first season, 3x3 fans around the country, expansion plans, and much more!

Bakshi is the CEO of YKBK Enterprise and the commissioner of the 3X3BL. Born and raised in Japan, he has long been involved with Indian basketball and has played in the 3x3 circuit in Japan. The 3X3BL will be starting its penultimate (fifth) round of the first season in Bengaluru this weekend.

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!

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August 4, 2018

India's campaign at FIBA U18 Asian Championship 2018 begins in Thailand tomorrow

Two years ago, the future star names of Indian basketball showed the first major flash of their promise, when they took a major leap to 8th place in the FIBA U18 Asian Championship in Tehran. Many of those players from the 2016 tournament have aged out of contention, but now, a new generation of players will get a chance to make their mark at the junior stage.

The 2018 FIBA Under-18 Asian Championship, the 25th edition of the Asian Championship for Junior Men aged 18 years old and below, will tip off in Nonthanuri, Thailand on Sunday, and held from August 5-11 this year. Sixteen top Asians squads, including India, hosts Thailand, and reigning champions Iran are set to participate in this high-stakes championship. The top four teams from this tournament will qualify to represent FIBA Asia in the 2019 FIBA Under-19 Basketball World Cup.

Participating Teams
  • Group A: Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, Indonesia
  • Group B: China, Philippines, Lebanon, UAE
  • Group C: Australia, New Zealand, Bahrain, Thailand
  • Group D: Korea, Chinese Taipei, India, Syria

India come into this tournament having convincingly won the South Asian Qualifying round of the FIBA U18 Asian Basketball Championship in Dhaka. India will be coached by Aman Sharma and will feature exciting young players such as Rajeev Kumar, Prashant Tomar, Harshwardhan Tomar, Seijin Mathew, Princepal Singh, and Rajveer Singh Bhati in their roster.

Team India Roster for U18 FIBA Asia Championship
  • Tushal Singh
  • Rajeev Kumar
  • Pratyanshu Tomar
  • Prashant Tomar
  • Harshwardhan Tomar
  • Prashant Singh Yadav
  • Abhishek Sharma
  • Jagshaanbir Singh Jhawar
  • Arvind Kumar Muthu Krishnan
  • Seijin Mathew
  • Princepal Singh
  • Rajveer Singh Bhati
  • Coach: Aman Sharma
  • Assistant Coach: Laldinsanga Hangsing

India's Preliminary Round Schedule - all timings IST
  • August 5 - Chinese Taipei vs. India - 2 PM
  • August 6 - India vs. Korea - 11 AM
  • August 7 - India vs. Syria - 11 AM

To qualify for the playoff stage, India will need to pick up at least one win and finish in the top three of their group. Group winners will get an automatic bye into the quarter-finals.

The main contenders in this tournament will be the usual suspects: Iran and China, and right on their tails, Japan, Korea, and Philippines, too. India's best chance of success is likely to come in their final preliminary round stage against Syria, a nation whose senior team has been a thorn in India's side numerous times in FIBA qualifiers and events over the past years. India is sending a strong and well-balanced squad, and this tournament has the potential of unleashing Princepal Singh as the next big star for Indian basketball if all goes well. Hopefully, he and other players like Harshwardhan Tomar can score an important victory or two and get further into this tournament than their predecessors in recent years.