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

Pencil in your calendars: NBA preseason likely heading to India in 2019

It's the news we've been waiting to hear for years, at least since the NBA's first-ever India-born owner Vivek Ranadive bought the Sacramento Kings and immediately went into overdrive to lure the Indian basketball market. Ranadive has wanted to bring an NBA preseason game to India since 2013, and while the NBA made its continuing inroads in China once again this week, the league finally dropped a hint that India could be next.

Reporting from the NBA China Games in Shenzhen, ESPN's Tim MacMahon tweeted that the NBA will hold 2019 preseason games in Japan (two cities), Dubai, and India. Ranadive's Sacramento Kings are expected to participate in the Dubai/India games. According to Scott Agnes, a Pacers reporter for the Athletic, the Indiana Pacers have been scouting locations in Dubai and India and will be the Kings' likely opponents in these games.

If true, this news will confirm the rumours that have been swirling stronger in Indian basketball since NBA's Commissioner Adam Silver announced in February that the league plans to bring a preseason game to India next year.

Now that the news has leaked, the next twelve months will probably be filled with details of host cities in India preparing for this big event. As the country's financial capital, Mumbai have the lead in the race here. But Bengaluru has a strong international culture and India's best-used basketball arena, the Sree Kanteerava Stadium. A wildcard is the NBA's Academy in Greater Noida, which is an inconvenient location for such a big event, but could be something the NBA might settle for to have the game tighter under their reigns.

For now, Indian fans can start prepping to jump on the Kings or Pacers bandwagons in advance for the game, especially since they are two of the league's lesser-known squads globally. My advice for those wanting to take the lead in merchandising? Find the Sim Bhullar Kings jersey, honouring the big man who earned his 15 seconds of fame by becoming the first player of Indian-origin to play in the NBA. Or, if you'd rather pick the Pacers, customise an Indiana jersey so it just reads 'Indian' in the front. I'm sure Reggie Miller would be proud.

October 4, 2018

Eight Indian coaches selected to attend NBA China Games in Shanghai and Shenzhen

The 2018 NBA preseason is underway, and per their annual tradition, the NBA will be holding two exhibition games in China this month. The 2018 NBA China Games will feature back to back matchups between the Philadelphia 76ers and Dallas Mavericks in Shanghai (October 5) and Shenzhen (October 8). Like every year, these games provide an amazing opportunity for NBA to feed their growing popularity among Chinese fans.

This year, the NBA is lending out a hand to some basketball lovers in India, too.

Eight Indian coaches from around the country, based on their performances at the various Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA programme events this year, have been selected to travel to China to attend the NBA China Games. The coaches will take part in the NBA Fan Day event in Shanghai on October 4 and then attend the two games in Shanghai and Shenzhen later in the week.

Indian coaches travelling to China for this programme include Jose Sebastian (Thiruvanathapuram), Shabana Patel (Mumbai), Ravi Kumar (Bengaluru), Ganesh Prabhu (Chennai), Ishwar (New Delhi), Tua Ghatak (Kolkata), Ibrahim Rose Khan (Hyderabad), and Ravinder Kaur (Punjab).

"It was quite unexpected and took me by surprise," said Sebastian to The New Indian Express. "I think this is a reward for all the hard work I have put in over the years. We will be watching two games of the highest standard and also meeting with coaches from across the globe -- all valuable experiences that I can put to good use in my coaching."

Even though its just the preseason, the coaches will be hoping to relish some top-notch NBA action and glean from coaches like Brett Brown and Rick Carlisle on the sidelines. Plus, there are so many more questions to consider before the start of the NBA season from the two participating teams. Will Embiid have social media access in China? Can Fultz shoot again? Does Simmons want to shoot? Is Nowitzki going to play? Will Doncic showcase his potential for being the rookie of the year?