March 27, 2019

Red Bull Reign to bring new 3x3 basketball tournament to India for the first time

If you haven't yet heard, 3x3 basketball is the exciting new flavour of the game. And while India struggles to launch its 5x5 ambitions into the higher gear, the shorter, quicker format has swooped in to take over. India has had relatively more success this decade in international 3x3 events, the 3x3BL league made big news in its first season touring all over the country, top Indian 3x3 teams took part in international tournaments over the past year, and the Basketball Federation of India even flirted with their own 3x3 league.

Now, a new contender is set to enter the crowded halfcourt.

Starting in a few weeks, Red Bull Reign will bring its rising international 3x3 competition to India for the first time. Red Bull has invited ballers from across the country to test their skills at this tournament. (via Business Standard).

Starting on April 7, the basketball tournament will be held across 12 cities: Chennai, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Goa, Hyderabad, Pune, Mumbai, Aizawl, Guwahati, Delhi, Ludhiana and Jaipur. The city winners will battle it out at the national final in Mumbai in the first week of June and the India winner will represent the country at the World Finals later in the year.

Red Bull Reign has been held around the world in recent years, including the USA, Canada, and UK. The competition is open for men who are 16+ years.

March 25, 2019

K. Govindaraj re-elected as Basketball Federation of India president

Basketball in India is set for a little bit of the same in the near future... and a little bit of something different, too.

K. Govindaraj, the incumbent president of the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) was unanimously re-elected to his post as president at the federation's Annual General Meetin (AGM) in Bengaluru on Sunday. The executive committee alao re-elected Chander Mukhi Sharma to his post as Secretary-General.

Govindaraj is a former player and also serves as the secretary of the Karnataka State Basketball Association (KSBBA).

Other elected officials in the executive committee include:
- Senior vice-president: Teja Singh Dhaliwal.
- Vice-presidents: Seema Singh, Om Prakash, Ajay Sud, Gautam Ganguly, Ajeet Singh Rathode.
- Treasurer: V. Raghothaman.

According to a report by The Hindu, Govindaraj and Sharma discussed several new schemes to help push forward basketball in India, which had been stagnating under their help over the past few years. These include the launch of a six-team women's league and plans to restructure the national championship.

"We intend to have a zone-wise competition before the final round," said Govindaraj. "We will have more matches, which will give us a chance to look at more talent."

During the AGM, the BFI also announced that Serbian coach Velesan Matic has been hired as the head coach of India's narkonal men's basketball team.

March 24, 2019

Veteran coach Veselin Matic named head coach of India's Men's Basketball team

India were grouped in the preliminary round of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asia Qualifiers with Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. The former two - higher ranked sides with notable star players - began as favourites over India even before the players took the court. But there was hope that India could finish ahead of Syria, a country with sporadic and limited basketball experience relative to India's, and without the perceived quality of some of the top players that India could potentially field for the matchup.

Alas, India's qualifiers campaign was a disaster, as the team lost all six of their home and away games to finish bottom of the group and missed the opportunity to step into the next round. The most disappointing of these losses came against Syria, to whom India fell 74-57 at home in Bengaluru in November 2017, and then again 81-76 on the road in Zouk Mikael in June 2018. 

The losses, and the backroom turmoil that accompanied them with the Basketball Federation of India (BFI), were part of one of the worst stretches of results in recent Indian men's basketball history. India lost every game in every major tournament for nearly two years, including the FIBA Asia Cup, the aforementioned World Cup Qualifiers, and the Commonwealth Games. The team was helmed by a carousel of head coaches during this stretch without finding long-term stability with any single one. 

In contrast to India's failure stood the surprisingly emerging Syrian side. Coahed by veteran Serbian coach Veselin Matic, Syria were able to move on to the second round of the World Cup qualifiers, and despite losing all the games at this tougher stage, they managed to put the Asian basketball fray at notice.

And noticing from the far end of the bench were Syria's disappointed victims: India. Nine months after they were knocked out by Matic's men, India have turned to a new saviour to help turn around their basketball fortunes: Matic himself.

At the most-recent Annual General Meeting of the BFI in Bengaluru, the federation's Secretary-General Chander Mukhi Sharma announced that Matic has been appointed as the new head coach of India's senior men's basketball team, replacing a series of interim/temporary coaches. Sharma stated that Matic is expected to begin his stint in India by the end of April.

The annoucement came during the BFI's AGM elections where K. Govindraj was again elected as the Federation's president. 

According to a report by Sportstar, Govindraj was confident of improvement under the new head coach. "We will have aggressive camps. We have already appointed a foreign coach (Matic). We will do much better in the coming years."

Matic (58) is a veteran of European and Asian basketball and arrived in India with a wealth of successful international experience. Originally from Belgrade in Serbia, Matic spent his professional playing career as a guard for the Serbian club OKK Beogard. He even applied for the NBA Draft in 1982 but went undrafted. After retirement in 1988, Matic turned his attention to coaching, starting with his team Beogard. Over the next few decades, he held coaching roles for clubs in Germany, Poland, Estonia, Lebanon, and more, while also becoming a part of the national basketball coaching/scouting structure of the former Yugoslavia and the Polish national team. He was an assistant coach for Yugoslavia's squads that won the 2001 EuroBasket and the 2002 World Championship. 

Matic served as the head coach of Iran's national team from 2009-2011, and during this stretch bagged the gold medal at the 2009 FIBA Asia Cup and bronze at the 2010 Asian Games. He served brief stretches as the head coach of Lebanon, and most recently, of Syria. Since 2012, he has been an official FIBA scout for the FIBA Men world championships. 

Matic's wealth of experience is sure to be invaluable for the federation and players in India. Over the past 30 years, he has been a part of nearly every type of basketball situation. Although no details of his contract are yet confirmed, the BFI should retain him for the long-term to give the entire basketball framework a chance to grow and develop under his wing. The country's top players like Amjyot Singh, Amritpal Singh, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, Satnam Singh, and more should benefit under his tutelage and be able to use his network to propel their individual careers to new avenues. 

Indian basketball has seen some dark days in recent years. The Matic hiring isn't an instant game-winning shot, but it is a sign of a positive rebuild that should bring the sport back to its proper trajectory. 

March 18, 2019

Four Indian girls selected for the NCAA Next Generation camp in the USA

'March Madness', the annual NCAA college basketball tournament in the USA, is here. And this year, a few young Indians will get closely involved in that wonderful festival of hoops.

For the second year, the NCAA, the NBA, and USA Basketball are joining hands for NCAA Next Generation, described as an "unprecedented opportunities for potential future student-athletes and celebrate the future of college basketball." Last year, the Next Generation programme brought top high-school age prospects to witness the NCAA's tournament first-hand while also take part in on-court/off-court programming.

Returning for the second year, this camp will feature a Women's Next Generation event, too, featuring high-school age players from USA and those picked from NBA Academies around the world. This is where the Indian participants come in: four Indian girls who shone at this year's Women's camp at the NBA India Academy will be heading for five-day extensive training in the United States. The camp will be held in Tampa, Florida, from April 3-7. This trip will include the opportunity to attend the NCAA Women's Final Four in Tampa to watch the best collegiate players in the USA in action.

Participants from other international women's academies including Africa, Australia, China, Mexico, and Europe will also take part. The camp will be led by NBA Academy Women's programme's technical directors Jennifer Azzi and Blair Hardeik and culminate with exhibition games between the participants.

India's invitees to the camp are: Ann Mary Zachariah (Kerala), Grishma Niranjan (Karnataka), Harsimran Kaur (Punjab), and Siya Deodhar (Maharashtra). Out of this group, Niranjan was the MVP of this year's Women's camp at the NBA India Academy. This will be Niranjan's second recent trip to the USA, after she took part in the Basketball Without Borders global camp in Charlotte during the NBA All Star Weekend.

An in-depth preview of the camp, including profile/interviews of the participating Indian players, was written by Amit Sampat for The Times of India and can be accessed here.

"Next Generation is a valuable initiative to work with our stakeholder groups to unify the game," said NCAA Vice President of Women’s Basketball Lynn Holzman. "Including women’s programming for the first time in the upcoming Women’s Final Four is an exciting opportunity, and we look forward to meeting and working with these women’s players from all over the world."

March 5, 2019

NBA India's Managing Director Yannick Colaco to step down from his position

For the past handful of years, the NBA's brand has grown in India exponentially and in a variety of players, like an uber-talented offensive player finding a myriad of ways to land the ball in the basket. The league has expanded its relationship with domestic partners, grown the grassroots programmes, reached out to more fans than ever through TV and social media, welcomed more NBA stars to our shores, and this year, announced the first ever NBA preseason game in India.

While the league's logo has been in the forefront of this growth, the man in the backgrounds helping to manage the league's India office was Yannick Colaco. Now, after six years as the Managing Director and Vice-President of NBA India, Colaco will step down from his position.

Colaco was hired for his current role in February 2013. NBA VP of global business operations Diane Gotua will relocate from New York to the NBA’s Mumbai office to lead the business in India on an interim basis and oversee the search for a new managing director.

"The NBA’s popularity and business in India have seen significant growth under Yannick’s leadership over the past six years," said Mark Tatum, the Deputy Commissioner of the NBA. "We thank Yannick for his contributions during his tenure as Managing Director and are grateful to have Diane assist with the transition."

"I am extremely thankful to have played a part in the growth of the NBA in India," Colaco said. "From broadening the distribution of our games to our plan to bring the live game experience to fans, the NBA’s business in India has never been better. It has been incredible living and breathing the NBA everyday over the past six years, and I look forward to applying my NBA experience as I move onto my next professional challenge."

Colaco spearheaded several programmes to help the NBA grow in India, including the formation of the NBA's partnership with Reliance Foundation for their grassroots basketball training programme, the launch of the NBA India Academy in Greater Noida, the increase in live NBA games on Indian TV (with introduction of Hindi commentary too), the growth of India's retail presence through, partnering with fantasy sports website Dream11, and much more.

While his tenure will leave a positive legacy for the NBA in India, his departure does come at an inopportune time, with the NBA preparing for the first-ever NBA India Games featuring the Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers this October. Hopefully, the transition to new leadership is smooth to oversee the Games and the NBA's next major steps in the Indian market.

March 2, 2019

Hoopdarshan Episode 74: Building sports culture in India - with Arka Bhattarcharya

After a long absence, Hoopdarshan returns for Episode 74, with our attention focused towards the future. Hosts Kaushik Lakshman and Karan Madhok are joined by sports journalist Arka Bhattacharya of The Field to discuss building sustainable sports culture in India, lessons for a future Indian pro basketball league, and the current sports-media landscape.

In addition, Kaushik and Karan also discuss the dwindling NBA All Star Weekend and rant about the malaise around their respective favourite NBA franchises, the Lakers and the Knicks, and LeBron and Porzingis, and Anthony Davis and everything else.

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...