September 27, 2019

Hoopdarshan Episode 84: NBA India Games with Yash Matange

On October 4-5, the basketball story in India will take a massive leap with the historic, first-ever NBA India Games: two preaseason matches between the Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings in Mumbai. Hoopdarshan is here to break it all down: Co-hosts Kaushik Lakshman and Karan Madhok welcome NBA India's Content Producer Yash Matange to talk about the lead-up to this event, the two participating teams, off-court events, all the India/Hindi connections, and much more.

Matange writes and edits content for NBA India and made his second Hoopdarshan appearance. In this episode, we also spoke briefly about India at the FIBA Asia Women's Cup.

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...

September 26, 2019

Prasanna Jayasanakar - Hoopistani Indian Basketball Hall of Fame

Indian basketball has been blessed with several queens over its history, leaders who have broken the gender barrier in the game to excel, and help a generation of players after them excel, too. One of these leaders is Prasanna Jayasanakar, the legendary player and coach from Kerala and Southern Railways, who is today's addition into the Hoopistani Indian Basketball Hall of Fame.

As the story goes, Prasanna was originally drafted to play badminton at the Sports School in Kannur, Kerala, but because there was a shortage of players in the basketball team, she switched sports. Soon, her career took off. She started playing for Kerala in 1982 with the sub-junior and junior nationals, and was in the state's senior team from 1983 onwards, while she was still a teenager. From 1985 to 1996, she played for the powerhouse Southern Railway team in Chennai, a relationship that sealed her post-playing future, too.

Prasanna played for India's senior women's team from 1984-1996, and one of the highlights of her international career was captaining Team India at the 1990 FIBA Asian Basketball Championship in Singapore.

Post-retirement, Prasanna has been one of the most influential coaches in India, primarily at her position with the influential Southern Railway team, which contributed to the Indian Railways unit that has dominated India's women's basketball for several decades. Among other stars, Prasanna helped nurture the talents of Indian basketball great (and Hoopistani Hall of Famer) Geethu Anna Rahul. As player and coach, she has won dozens of medals in National Championships, Inter-Railway tournaments, All India University championships, Federation Cups, and more. Prasanna was also one of the only female coaches in the short-term men's pro league in India, the UBA.

Prasanna's husband, Jayasankar Menon, is also a legendary basketballer and a Hall of Famer. Together they were behind the Professional Basketball Academy (PBA) in Chennai. Through the course of her career, Prasanna has been given several individual honours, such as the GV Raja Award. She has been involved for a handful of times as a selector and observer for India's women's national championship and has served in the coaching staff of India's national teams.

Click here for more of the Indian Basketball Hall of Fame.

September 23, 2019

Hoopdarshan Episode 83: Jeena Skaria, FIBA Asia Women, and FIBA World Cup

On the eve of the 2019 FIBA Women's Asia Cup in Bengaluru, India's star player Jeena Skaria joins us on Hoopdarshan. In an interview with co-hosts Kaushik Lakshman and Karan Madhok, Skaria tells us about India's strategy in the tougher Division A of the tournament, the top players to watch out for, and playing pro in Australia - an experience that changed her life both on and off the court.

Jeena Skaria is one of the most talented and accomplished basketball players in India today. The Kerala native has graduated from being a teenage phenom to the best player in the women's national team. She was one of the top performers of the squad that won Division B of the FIBA Women's Asia Cup two years ago. Since then, she has seen a rare dream come true, becoming only the third Indian women to play pro overseas - in Australia for the Ringwood Hawks. Now, Skaria is back to India's national team, and the team is back in Division A, for the tournament in Bengaluru.

In addition to our interview with Skaria, Kaushik and Karan deep-dive in Episode 83 into the results of the FIBA World Cup, including the greatness of Ricky Rubio, the surprise rise of Argentina, and the fall of Team USA.

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...

India ready to take part in 2019 FIBA Women's Asia Cup: Roster, Schedule, and more!

After winning Division B in dramatic fashion in 2017, Team India will return upgraded in Division A of the 2019 FIBA Women's Asia Cup. The tournament is being held once again in familiar surroundings for Team India, at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru from September 24-29, 2019.

The 2017 champions Japan will return with hopes of completing an incredible four-peat of this tournament. Among the other favourites in this event are Australia, China, and Korea.

Grouping for Division A
  • Group A: Japan, Korea, Chinese Taipei, India.
  • Group B: Australia, China, New Zealand, Philippines.

India's Roster
  • Rajapriyadarshini Rajaganapathi (captain)
  • Anmolpreet Kaur
  • Shireen Limaye
  • Barkha Sonkar
  • Navaneetha Pattemane Udayakumar
  • Anjana Prasannan Geetha
  • Stephy Nixon
  • Bhandavya Hemmige Mahesha
  • Shruthi Arvind
  • Madhu Kumari
  • Jeena Skaria
  • Lopamudra Thimmaiah Kokkalera
  • Head Coach: Zoran Visic
  • Assistant Coach: Shiba Maggon
  • Assistant Coach: Kuldeep Singh Brar

India's Preliminary Stage Schedule - all timings IST
  • Sep 24, 2019 - Japan vs. India - 8 PM
  • Sep 25, 2019 - India vs. Korea - 8 PM
  • Sep 26, 2019 - Chinese Taipei vs. India - 8 PM

September 18, 2019

Sajjan Singh Cheema: Hoopistani Indian Basketball Hall of Fame

From dominating on the basketball court to substituting into a career in politics, Sajjan Singh Cheema has always been used to the public eye, especially in his home-state of Punjab. Now, the former star adds a new accolade into his book: the Hoopistani Indian Basketball Hall of Fame.

Cheema was born in the Dabulian village in Punjab in 1957, in the Kapurthala district which has been one of the hotbeds of Indian basketball since the introduction of the game. He studied in the Sports College in Jalandhar, and it was only at age 19 that he began to turn towards basketball, with an inter-university tournament in Jaipur.

Cheema quickly became a dominant player in the state, and eventually broke into the national team. He played for India in the FIBA Asia Basketball Championship teams in 1981, 1983, and 1985, and represented the country in the Asian Games in 1982. In 1983, he was honoured with the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Award. He retired from the game in 1994, and in 1999, he joined a select list of basketball players to win the Arjuna Award, one of the highest honours for Indian athletes.

Cheema comes from a family of basketball players, as his brothers Balkar Singh and Gurmeet Singh and his cousin Kuldeep Singh Cheema also played at the international level. His daughter Guneet Kaur has played for Punjab at the youth national level.

Off-the-court, Cheema turned his attentions further into public service, serving as an SP (Superintendent of Police) with Punjab Police and additionally the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic) in Ludhiana. In 2017, he entered politics contesting from an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ticket from the Sultanpur Lodhi contituency in the 2017 Assembly Elections. He left AAP to join the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) later that same year.

Click here for more of the Hoopistani Indian Basketball Hall of Fame.

September 13, 2019

Parvez Irani: Hoopistani Indian Basketball Hall of Fame

Another member of India's historic basketball team of 1980, the first and only to play in the Summer Olympics in Moscow, has been added to the Hoopistani Indian Basketball Hall of Fame: Parvez Irani.

From Cuttack in Odisha, the 5-10 guard Irani went on to become an important player for Team India in the 70s and 80s. He appeared in all seven of India's matches at the Moscow Olympics in 1980 and averaged 3.4 points per contest.

After retiring from the game in the mid-80s, Irani served the Sports Authority of India (SAI) as a coach for thirty years, from where he finally retired in 2017. Irani's son Xerxes has found fame in his own right as a star for the TV show "Roadies". Irani also has the claim for being one of the rare players of Zoroastrian background to represent Team India.

Click here for more of the Hoopistani Indian Basketball Hall of Fame.

September 11, 2019

Rajesh Sethi named new Managing Director of NBA India

The National Basketball Association (NBA) on Wednesday, September 11 named Rajesh Sethi, an accomplished media and technology executive with more than 20 years of experience in leading and managing global brands, as Managing Director of NBA India. Sethi, who begins with the NBA on Sept. 12, will report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum.

Sethi succeeds Yannick Colaco as NBA India's MD, who stepped down from his position in March.

As MD, Sethi will oversee the league's basketball and business development initiatives in India and will be supported by the region's senior leadership team.

Most recently, Sethi was with the Essel Group, a leading business conglomerate in India, where he held various leadership roles with the group's entities, including SITI Networks, Zee Entertainment and Ten Sports. Since 2017, he has been the Chief Business Transformation Officer of SITI Networks, one of India's leading cable television systems operators, and he spearheaded the creation of multiple new offerings for SITI Networks' consumers. Prior to SITI Networks, Sethi was the CEO of Distribution and Sports Business at Zee Entertainment. Additionally, he was the CEO of Ten Sports, a subsidiary of Zee Entertainment, where he oversaw the global sports broadcasters' sports channels. Earlier in his career, Sethi was the CEO and Region Director for South East Asia of Allianz Global, a specialty insurance provider, and held executive roles with General Electric in India and Tata Motors.

"Rajesh's extensive experience in the media and broadcast industry combined with his leadership and management abilities make him the ideal person to lead our efforts in India," said Tatum. "We look forward to working with Rajesh to help take basketball and the NBA to new heights in India at a time when the game has never been more popular across the country."

Sethi joins NBA India at perhaps the most crucial time-frame in their short history. In less than a month, the league will host an NBA preseason game in Mumbai for the first time, landing the Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers for two matchups in Mumbai on October 4-5. The game promises to bring unprecedented attention to basketball and the NBA's operations in India. With so much stake from the NBA's high demands of operations from abroad, Sethi and the rest of the organisation will have the responsibility of ensuring that the ball bounces the right way.

"I am thrilled to join the NBA at such an exciting time," said Sethi. "The league has done a wonderful job of growing its presence in India, and I look forward to working with all our partners and colleagues here as we explore new ways to increase basketball participation and engagement."

September 10, 2019

2019 Sub-Junior Nationals: Mizoram Boys and Tamil Nadu rise to capture the gold in Cuttack

Sometimes the best thing about basketball is watching a dominant force unleash its dominance, over and over again, executing the game to its most beautiful conclusion. At other times, the joy of the game is in the underdog stories, of surprises, of being witness to a 'Cinderella' run to the title, in David defeating Goliath.

Both these instances were on showcase over the past week at the 46th Sub Junior (U14) National Basketball Championship for Boys and Girls, held in Cuttack (Odisha) from September 3-9. Organised by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) and the Odisha Basketball Association, the Sub-Junior Nationals featured participation from 24 boys' and 25 girls' teams from around India. At the finals on Monday, Mizoram (Boys) became the 'Cinderella' story, winning the gold, while Tamil Nadu (Girls) captured the top spot after last year's runners-up finish. The championship was held in Cuttack's Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium and the Indoor Complex in Barabati

The girls' final was a rematch of last year's event in Kangra (Himachal Pradesh), with Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra squaring up again in the finals. Maharashtra, the reigning champions, stayed on course on Monday as well, as both teams started with a tie after the first quarter and TN only held a slim, 32-30 lead at halftime. But it was the incredible third period explosion by TN that proved to be the differene, as they outscored Maharashtra 33-13, and then put the nail in the coffin in the fourth to run away with a 85-67 victory. Antheya Daisy of TN was the best individual performer of the day, scoring 31 in the win. Juana Chrisolin added 18 points in TN's winning effort.

The boys' finale featured two very different teams: the favourites, Punjab, who had been dominating every level of the game with their size and athleticism; and the relative newcomers from the basketball-mad northeast state of Mizoram, who had surprised bigger teams en route to the final with their speed and shooting. The neck-to-neck game remained close for three quarters, as Punjab held a slim 35-34 advantage. But it was the Mizos who ended in style, hitting the big baskets and the getting the biggest stops in the fourth quarter to edge away to a 51-46 win, their third in Sub-Junior nationals history. Emmanuel of Mizoram led all scorers with 17 points.

The third-place match-ups of the losing semi-finalists were also held on Monday. In the boys' game, Maharashtra and Haryana went the stretch in a close contest, and the Maha boys eventually sneaked away with a 75-73 victory. Shaik Taufiq scored 26 to pace Maharashtra, while Kaushal of Haryana had a game-high 28.

In the girls' game, Karnataka had an easy ride against Delhi, routing their opponents 56-34 to return home with a bronze medal.

Final Scores
    Girls: Tamil Nadu (Antheya Daisy 31, Juana Chrisolin 18) bt. Maharashtra 85-67 [18-18, 14-12, 33-13, 20-22].
Boys: Mizoram (Emmanuel 17) bt. Punjab 51-46 [12-13, 10-8, 12-14, 17-11].
Final Standings

  • 1. Tamil Nadu
  • 2. Maharashtra
  • 3. Karnataka
  • 4. Delhi
  • 5. Kerala

  • 1. Mizoram
  • 2. Punjab
  • 3. Maharashtra
  • 4. Haryana
  • 5. Tamil Nadu

September 8, 2019

Radhey Shyam: Hoopistani Indian Basketball Hall of Fame

Wherever he suited up, success followed close behind. An Olympian, a national team star, an Arjuna Awardee, and a scoring machine, Rajasthan's late, legendary baller Radhey Shyam has been inducted into the Hoopistani Indian Basketball Hall of Fame.

Originally from the village of Sri Madhopur in Rajasthan, Shyam went on to become a star for Services and an important player for India's national team in the 1970s. The 6-4 forward found his career highlight when he was named into Team India for the 1980 Moscow Olympics, India's only basketball appearance in the Olympic stage. Shyam was one of the best players in the team, averaging 15.3 ppg in seven games for India in Moscow, which was second-highest for Team India and 19th in scoring overall at the tournament. The overmatched Indian side lost all their contests, but Shyam finished the group stage with a flourish, tallying 32 points in a loss to Brazil.

Shyam also played for India at the 1982 Asian Games, held on his adopted home turf of New Delhi. India finished the tournament at 8th place. The same year, Shyam was awarded with the Arjuna Award for outstanding individual achievement in national sport.

Shyam passed away in his native village - Sri Madhopur - in 2006 at age 53.

Click here for more of the Hoopistani Indian Basketball Hall of Fame.

September 7, 2019

Biopic of India's first NBA draftee Satnam Singh in production by Zee Studios

Satnam Singh is, arguably, figuratively and literally, the biggest name in Indian basketball. Raised in a nondescript village in Punjab, the young man grew to be a 7-footed beast with tantalising basketball potential, won a scholarship in one of the world's finest sports academies, and eventually, made history by becoming the first Indian to be drafted in the NBA, the world's finest basketball league. Although he never played for the NBA, Satnam played pro in the G-League and in Canada, and the 24-year-old continues to represent the Indian national team.

His incredible story, right up to the point of the night he was drafted, was documented by Roman Gackowski's memorable Netflix documentary One in a Billion in 2016. Now, for the first time, Satnam's journey will be told in fictionalised motion picture, the first-ever basketball biopic in India.

Production company Zee Studios recently announced that they will produce an original digital film based on the inspirational journey of Satnam Singh. The film will be available to be streamed "soon" (no confirmation date given yet) on their on-demand streaming platform, Zee5.

"In our country where basketball has miles to go before it enjoys the same kind of popularity cricket does, it's time we encourage other sports" said Ashima Avasthi, Head and VP, Zee Studios Originals. "Satnam Singh's extremely difficult yet heart-warming journey needs to be told and celebrated. We are excited to work with him on this film! With the explosion of digital content consumption in India, there's a huge market for digital first content, both films and web shows. We are working towards producing a mixed portfolio of premium digital content—web shows and films—across languages and genres for all digital platforms."

Aparna Acharekar, Programming Head, ZEE5 India said: "We are constantly on the lookout for engaging content that our audiences will enjoy and appreciate. This is a special film that we are creating with Zee Studios. An inspiring story that talks about the talented basketball player Satnam Singh's journey, hustle, struggle and triumphs."

Satnam is rumoured to be assisting with the development of the film. There has been no information released yet about the director or cast of the movie. Casting the big man himself will, of course, be a challenge: Satnam is 7-foot-2 and 130 kgs, with a very specific body type and international level basketball skills. It is difficult enough to find actors to play-act athletic capabilities of sports-persons; but in Satnam's case, the physical dimensions are going to be yet another challenge.

"It feels unreal that a film is being made on me!" said Satnam, regarding the news. "As a sportsman, I have always loved films based on sports, and I feel honoured that this film is my story. What excites me most is that this is a basketball film, the first of its kind. I hope that the film will boost the game and more kids will want to try it out. There is huge potential for the game to grow in India if only more people come out in support of it."

Sports biopics in India are a lucrative business. As a matter of fact - outside of cricket, of course - films about Indian sports end up performing much better in the eyes of the common public than the sports themselves. The formula has been devised and repeated for films like Dangal, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Mary Kom, M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story, Paan Singh Tomar, Azhar, and many more in recent years. With the arrival of streaming entertainment, the options of sporting stories in cinema will get its inevitable boost.

This is of course, exciting news for Indian hoops for Satnam to join (in a smaller, digital way) the ranks of other great Indian athletes with biopics. The film will be facing the challenge of following up the excellent One in a Billion, which followed Satnam to his village, to the IMG Academy, to NBA trials, and to the draft, and featured interviews with several luminaries involved with the game including Mark Cuban, Vivek Ranadive, and Adam Silver. I was honoured to be featured in the film, too, relaying my experiences of observing Satnam's journey from close quarters over the years.

I fear that, unless somehow perfectly cast, the issue of size and imitable skills in whatever actor cast to play Satnam will prove to be a major hindrance for the upcoming biopic. Beyond that, I hope that the writers and director ensure to get the basketball background information correct for his film, along with Satnam's intriguing off-court struggles and successes.

September 5, 2019

Punjab Steelers and Kochi Stars to represent India at FIBA Asia 3x3 Quest Final in Maldives

Less than two weeks after wrapping up victories at the 3x3 National Championship in Bengaluru, the two top teams from India - Punjab Steelers (Men) and Kochi Stars (Women) - now land in Male, Maldives, to take on the top 3x3 sides in the continent. The 2019 FIBA Asia 3x3 Quest Final will be held in Male from September 6-8, and the Indian sides will have an opportunity to qualify for the world 3x3 championship next month if they triumph in this event.

A number of star Indian players, including Amjyot Singh, Amritpal Singh, Geethu Anna Rahul, and more are at this event. Both the Steelers and the Star are seeded at 7th place in their respective groups.

  • Punjab Steelers: Amjyot Singh, Amritpal Singh, Arshpreet Singh Bhullar, Rajvir Singh Aujla.
  • Kochi Stars: Geethu Anna Rahul, Smruthi Radhakrishnan, Surya PR, Sonumol Soman.
India's Groups - sourced via NBA India.
  • Men: Punjab Steelers (India), Taipei Bears (Chinese Taipei), Arkhangai (Mongolia), Askar (Brunei).
  • Women: Kochi Stars (India), Top Star (China), Maafannu (Maldives).
On paper, India is sending teams that should perform well in their groups. Featuring talents like Amjyot and Amritpal, India's Men should be favourites to make it out of their pool as toppers. The women's squad will probably face a big challenge against China's Top Star, but the return to action of national legend Geethu Anna Rahul should help the team's chances.

The champions of these finals in Maldives will book their place in the Elite 3x3 World Tour Masters in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) from October 18-19.

September 2, 2019

46th Sub Junior National Basketball Championship to tip off in Cuttack (Odisha)

The youngest national basketball event in Indian basketball will continue its decades-long journey tomorrow. The 46th Sub Junior (U14) National Basketball Championship for Boys and Girls will be held in Cuttack (Odisha) from September 3-9, 2019. The championship will be held in Cuttack's Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium and the Indoor Complex in Barabati. It will feature participation from 24 boys' and 25 girls' teams from around India.

The event is being organised by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) and the Odisha Basketball Association.

Last year's defending champions from Kangra - Uttar Pradesh (Boys) and Maharashtra (Girls) will start this year's tournament among the favourites.

Participating Teams

  • Group A: Maharashtra, Karnataka, Harayana, Punjab, Kerala
  • Group B: Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi
  • Group C: Gujarat, Jharkhand, Manipur
  • Group D: Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Odisha
  • Group E: Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Puducherry, West Bengal
  • Group F: Chandigarh, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Uttarkhand

  • Group A: Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu
  • Group B: Rajasthan, Maharstra, Bihar, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh
  • Group C: Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal
  • Group D: Telengana, Gujarat, Manipur, Uttarkhand
  • Group E: Delhi, Goa, Mizoram, Tripura
  • Group F: Kerala, Chandigarh, Odisha, Puducherry

The championship will officially be declared open at 6.00 PM on 3rd September by Achhyuta Samanta, the MP of Kandhana.

September 1, 2019

Snehel Bendke: Hoopistani Indian Basketball Hall of Fame

Among the first women to be a FIBA-certified referee from India, Snehel Bendke is now one of the greatest refs the nation has ever produced, whistling away all the way to the Olympics. For her efforts, the former player from Maharashtra has been inducted into the Hoopistani Indian Basketball Hall of Fame.

Hailing from Kohlapur in Maharashtra, Bendke was a rising player for her state, playing in nationals at the junior and senior levels. However, at the advice of a coach, she decided to follow the path of refereeing at the early age of 22. Bendke and fellow Hoopistani Hall of Famer Shiba Maggon soon became the first Indian woman to receive FIBA referee certification.

In the decade that has since passed as an international referee, Bendke has officiated matches in important events like the 2012 Olympic Games in London (the first and only Indian to do so), the first Indian woman to officiate in a Men's FIBA Asia Championship, the Women's World Basketball Championship, and numerous more FIBA Asia events in both the men and women's divisions.

She continues to be one of the most respected international basketball referees around the world.

Click here for more of the Hoopistani Indian Basketball Hall of Fame.