December 14, 2017

Basketball Federation of India K. Govindraj elected as Indian Olympic Association's Vice President

The Basketball Federation of India (BFI) announced on Thursday that its president, K. Govindraj, has been elected as the Vice-President of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA). It's been a celebratory few weeks for Govindraj, who was also appointed as a member of the FIBA (International Basketball Federation) Competitions Commission recently.

Election results of the IOA were announced in New Delhi on Thursday, December 14, and president of the Indian Hockey Federation (FIH) Narinder Batra was elected as IOA president. The IOA's Annual Generation Meeting also witnessed elections for the eight posts of vice-president, six joint secretaries, a lone treasurer and 10 Executive Council members.

The IOA is the body responsible for selecting athletes to represent India at the Olympic Games, Asian Games and other international athletic meets and for managing the Indian teams at the events. It also acts as the Indian Commonwealth Games Association, responsible for selecting athletes to represent India at the Commonwealth Games. Govindraj's role in the committee could prove fruitful as India's basketball teams hope to participate in both the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games in 2018.

Govindraj, who also held the position of secretary of the Karnataka State Basketball Association (KSBBA), became president of the BFI in March 2015 and secured the position after a lengthy feud with a competing executive committee. His main accomplishment over the past year has been hosting three international basketball events in India: the FIBA Asia Women's Cup in July 2017, FIBA U16 Women's Asian Championship in October 2017 and FIBA 2019 World Cup Asian Qualifiers in November 2017.

December 7, 2017

Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA programme in India for 2017-18 to engage more than 45 lakh youth in India

The NBA on Thursday, December 7 announced the return of The Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA programme, a comprehensive youth basketball initiative that applies the values of basketball to positively impact the lives of Indian boys and girls, for its fifth consecutive year. Returning to India for the 2017-18 season, the expanded programme will through March 2018 and expect to engage more than 45 lakh youth and 4,500 physical education instructors and coaches in 34 cities nationwide.

The programme – the largest in its five-year history – will focus on inspiring youth to adopt a healthy, active lifestyle by integrating basketball into the physical education curriculum of the participating schools.

"We are thrilled to enhance the presence of basketball in more cities and develop life skills amongst youth through our partnership with the NBA," said a Reliance Foundation spokesperson. "The Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA programme is in line with our goal of enabling children to develop holistically through sports."

"Between the launch of The NBA Academy India, the opening of NBA Basketball Schools in Mumbai and Delhi, and our largest Jr. NBA programme in the country to date, we are more focused than ever on growing basketball among young Indian boys and girls at all levels," said NBA India Vice President & Managing Director Yannick Colaco. "The Reliance Foundation shares our commitment to holistic development through sports and teaching the values of the game, including teamwork, leadership and respect."

The programme, which remains free for all participants, includes individual skills competitions; a timed circuit-based challenge incorporating dribbling, passing and shooting; and 5-on-5 competitions. The top performers from each in-school skills competition will qualify to attend the citywide skills challenge, and the finalists from each citywide skills challenge will compete at the City Finals in 2018. The Jr. NBA Coaches Academy will train local coaches from partner schools.

During the 2016-17 season, Jr. NBA reached more than 1.8 crore youth in 53 countries through its youth participation initiatives.

Since its launch in 2013, The Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA programme has reached more than sixty lakh youth and trained more than 5,000 physical education instructors nationwide. The programme is part of the NBA’s existing basketball and youth development initiatives in India. Students, parents, coaches and teachers can visit, the official destination of The Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA program, to learn more.

December 6, 2017

Basketball Federation of India president K. Govindraj appointed as member of FIBA Competitions Commission

K. Govindraj, the president of the Basketball Federation of India (BFI), became the first one of his office to be appointed as a member to the FIBA (International Basketball Federation) Competitions Commission a few weeks ago. Govindraj's appointment will be effective from January 1, 2018.

"I’m humbled by the honour of being bestowed this position," said Govindraj. "This is not just an achievement for myself but for all the BFI who have worked tirelessly for the last three years to showcase the true potential of Indian Basketball."

Govindraj, who also held the position of secretary of the Karnataka State Basketball Association (KSBBA), became president of the BFI in March 2015 and secured the position after a lengthy feud with a competing executive committee. Govindraj's main accomplishment over the past year has been hosting three international basketball events in India: the FIBA Asia Women's Cup in July 2017, FIBA U16 Women's Asian Championship in October 2017 and FIBA 2019 World Cup Asian Qualifiers in November 2017.

The FIBA Competitions Commission is mainly responsible for the growth and smooth functioning of different competitions under FIBA. Their duties include: reviewing and recommending the FIBA Calendar for approval by the Central Board, reviewing all official competitions of FIBA, developing recommendations for changes to the manner and method of conduct of the official competitions, giving advice on the allocation of official competitions, studying the regulations governing all international competitions, and making recommendations relating to the transition of players from youth to senior competitions.

November 29, 2017

India’s long journey to qualify for the 2019 FIBA World Cup begins

This article was first published in my 'Hoopistani' column on The Times of India Sports on November 19, 2017. Read the original version here.

Thirty-seven years ago, in the pleasant late-summer in Moscow, Indian basketball made history. A series of fortuitous circumstances—including a golden generation of Indian basketball stars and a series of international diplomatic breakdowns—made India an unlikely entrant in the Men’s basketball fray of the 1980 Summer Olympics. India were the weakest team in the tournament and lost all seven of their games. Still, it was the competitive high-point in Indian hoops, an achievement that has never been matched again.

Indian basketball has since dipped out of contention of major world tournaments, and India has generally been one of the weaker teams in the Asian level, too. But now, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) has introduced a new competition system that could help India gain international experience and have a chance to participate against world superpowers at the highest-level.

In a few days, India will begin their First Round games of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers. India has never played in the World Cup (formerly known as the FIBA World Championship), which FIBA is now angling as a competition with equal prestige as the Olympics. The road ahead to be amongst the 32 best teams to play at the tournament in China in August/September 2019 will be difficult for the Indian Men (currently ranked 64). But India has been able to unearth a number of exciting young players in recent years with better scouting and development. For the current “golden generation”, the road to play in a prestigious world tournament begins now.

India have been drawn in Group C for the First Round of the World Cup’s Asian Qualifiers, along with Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. India will play each team in home and away between November 2017 to July 2018. To qualify for the Second Round, India have to finish amongst the top three of their group. The Second Round will be held between September 2018 to February 2019, where India will have to finish top three from their group of six.

India’s last major basketball appearance was at the FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon in August. Despite entering with high expectations, India performed poorly, losing all three of their preliminary stage games and being ousted in the First Round. Two of those losses came against Jordan and Syria, and in the World Cup Qualifiers ahead, India will have a chance to make amends.

India’s first two qualifying games are on the road against Lebanon on November 23 and then, back home in Bengaluru, for a historic first qualifying home game against Syria on November 26. The next international breaks of qualifiers for India will be held in late February and June/July 2018.

After helping India’s women’s senior and under-16 squads put up respectable performances at FIBA Asia events earlier this year, Serbian head coach Zoran Visic has been named head coach of India’s men’s squad for the first string of qualifying games, too. Visic is a FIBA World Instructor and has over 34 years of professional basketball coaching experience across Serbia, Romania, Russia, Yugoslavia, Lebanon, and Singapore. He will be assisted in coaching the team with former international player Sambhaji Kadam.

The final, 12-man roster of India’s squad was released by the BFI on Saturday. India will be captained by veteran point guard Akilan Pari and will feature one of the country's top players Amritpal Singh, who is on international break from his professional club in Australia's NBL, the Sydney Kings. Amritpal is sure to be the team's centrepiece in the next two games. India is loaded with talented bigs, including the country's first-ever NBA draft pick and former NBA G-League player Satnam Singh, former G-League draft pick Palpreet Singh Brar, Rikin Pethani, Jagdeep Singh Bains, Aravind Annadurai, and more. 

However, the team will be without the services of two of their top three players: Amjyot Singh, who is playing for the OKC Blue of the NBA G-League; and Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, who is recovering from a right knee injury. 

India has featured a string of talented post players in recent years. Unfortunately, the team will again be relying too much on the performance of the bigs. Amritpal, Satnam, Palpreet, and co. can all be wonderfully dominant under the basket, but India is weak in terms of ball-handlers and creative wing players. There will be a lot of pressure for Pari to outplay opposing point guards, and the qualifiers will also be a good litmus test for his young back, Prudhvi Reddy. Without Bhriguvanshi, however, India will again struggle for consistency in setting up their offense as they did when he was hurt at the FIBA Asia Cup. Without Amjyot, they will also need more offense from sharp-shooter Prasanna Venkatesh from the wing. 

Lebanon, who made it to the Quarter-Finals of the FIBA Asia Cup, will be a handful for India, especially on their home court. It is unlikely that a weakened Indian squad will be able to earn a victory in Beirut in their first game, but they should be prepared for the second matchup against Syria later in the week. India will be in the comfort of home, playing in front of home fans at the Sri Kantaveera Stadium in Bengaluru, against their weakest competitor in this group. Syria defeated India two months ago, but a more focused performance this time around could help India get a morale-boosting international victory.

Finishing in top three in the group is attainable for India, and with the rise of the next generation of young stars, the team can hope for a strong performance looking ahead into the Second Round of qualifiers, too. Qualifying for the 2019 World Cup might be unlikely, but the matches will surely help India gain some valuable international experience. Hopefully, it prepares the next generation of the squad to make new history and have the national team playing at the highest basketball level once again.

November 28, 2017

Former NBA superstar Michael Ray Richardson is in India, visiting the NBA India Academy

Once upon a time, Michael "Sugar" Ray Richardson was one of the brightest young stars in the NBA, setting the league alight with electrifying performances. After a 24-year-career playing in the NBA and abroad, and a decade in coaching in the US and England, Richardson has briefly brought his talent to India. The former NBA superstar is at the NBA India Academy for two weeks, where he has been interacting, practicing, and coaching some of the best young players in the country.

Richardson also visited Mumbai for a special taping of Sony SIX's "Around the Hoop" NBA show past Sunday.

Now 62-years-old, Richardson was once one of the most highly-touted young players coming into the NBA, and was drafted fourth in the 1978 draft - two ahead of Larry Bird - by the New York Knicks. The 6-foot-5 guard paid dividends immediately. He became an All Star in his second year in the league and became only the third player in history to lead the league in both assists and steals. He also made the All Defensive Team that year and the next and was an All Star with the Knicks for three consecutive years. Eventually, Richardson was traded to the Golden State Warriors for Bernard King and then returned to the Eastern Conference to play for the New Jersey Nets, where he became an All Star again.

In 1986, Richardson was banned for life by NBA commissioner David Stern for violations of the league's drug policy, bringing an early end to what could have been a glorious career in the league. He admitted to using cocaine and later regained the right to play in the NBA in 1988, but decided to continue his career in Europe. He played a few seasons in the Continental Baskebtall Association (CBA), and in Italy, Croatia, and France, winning the French League, two Italian Cups, and a Cup Winners Cup. Richardson returned to the game as a coach in the CBA where he won two championships, won two more championships as an NBL Canada coach, and joined the London Lightning in England where he was the PBL coach of the year.

November 27, 2017

12 basketball stars from UBA League in India head to USA for 3rd annual pro camp

For the third consecutive year, UBA India will take twelve of the brightest Indian stars to the USA for the annual UBA Pro Performance Camp. The camp will be held in Phoenix, Arizona, from December 4-15, featuring the Indian players, top training professionals with the UBA, and dozens of additional American/NRI professional players and trainers based in the US. According to UBA India, the training camp is designed to help the players maximize their skills as a basketball player, increase their overall strength as an athlete and learn to train in ways which they can maintain when returning home.

Photo courtesy: UBA India
"Every day, our goal is to be stronger and faster than we were the day before," said Jody Basye, the UBA's Director of Coaching. "This year, more players are coming, increasing the talent pool from around the world to play in the UBA. This camp plays a big role in making the game even more exciting for our fans in India."

The UBA has already held for short-term pro leagues in India over the past two-and-a-half years. Last year's Season 4 - which featured several of India's top players and foreign imports - was the grandest showcase for the league yet and was won by the Mumbai Challengers.

The players heading to the USA for the 3rd Pro Performance camp are:
  • Chukwunanu Agu (Chennai Slam)
  • Ajinkya Mane (Pune Peshwas)
  • Gurwinder "Garry" Singh Gill (Punjab Steelers)
  • Jagdeep Singh Bains (Mumbai Challengers)
  • Muin Bek Hafeez (Delhi Capitals)
  • Narender Grewal (Pune Peshwas)
  • Nikhil Kumar (Mumbai Challengers)
  • Palpreet Singh Brar (Bengaluru Beast)
  • Prudhvi Reddy (Mumbai Challengers)
  • Rikin Pethani (Chennai Slam)
  • Siddhant Shinde (Pune Peshwas)
  • Yadwinder Singh (Haryana Gold)

Photo courtesy: UBA India
According to the UBA, invitations were based on the players' performances in last season's league, but missing on the list is Season 4's Indian MVP Vishesh Bhriguvanshi (injured). Big man duo of Amjyot Singh and Amritpal Singh are busy with their obligations in foreign leagues. The list does include Na number of players who have made recent national team appearances for India, including Gurwinder Gill, Jagdeep Singh, Muin Bek, Palpreet Singh, Prudhvi Reddy, Rikhin Pethani, and Yadwinder Singh.

Additionally, up to 36 additional international professional players from North America, including players of Indian origin, will be attending the camp, vying for a coveted spot on a UBA team for Season 5. These will include UBA Season 4 International MVP Dermaine Crockrell, Jimmy Scroggins, Pierre Newton, Brendon Pineda, Alex Scales and Inderbir Gill, all four of whom played in Season 4.

The players will be put through a rigorous 2-weeks of training. Read more about it here.

FIBA World Cup 2019 Qualifiers: India begin Group C with two uninspiring losses to Lebanon and Syria

The first-ever window of FIBA's new World Cup qualifying process began around the world this week. These qualifiers were an incredible opportunity to widen the road to the 2018 Basketball World Cup and allow each team in the preliminary stage to play in home-and-away games in the lead-up to the main event for the next few years. India, who have been placed in Group C of the First Round of Asian Qualifiers, began their long journey to the World Cup in opening clashes against Lebanon and Syria this past week.

Unfortunately, a short-handed Indian team failed to deliver, playing uninspiring basketball to lose both their qualifying games. They already have a grueling path ahead of them with four more group stage games left over the next eight months.

India were coached by the Serbian Zoran Visic for the first qualifying games and featured a 12-man roster that included former NBA G-Leaguer Satnam Singh Bhamara, NBL player Amritpal Singh, former G-League draftee Palpreet Singh Brar, and point guard Akilan Pari. The team was without the services of star players Amjyot Singh (playing in the NBA G-League) and Vishesh Bhriguvanshi (recovering from injury). India were coming off a disappointing outing at the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon and desperately needed to make amends. The away game to Lebanon was always going to be a challenge, but India were expected to perform well in their home contest against Syria.

Lebanon took charge early in the first game in the city of Zouk Mikael on Thursday, November 23rd. By halftime, with the score at 55-27 in Lebanon's favour, the game already seemed out of India's reach. Led by 22 points and 10 rebounds by Ahmed Ibrahim, Lebanon cruised to a 107-72 victory. Lacking top backcourt players, Visic was forced to play a big, but slow lineup of for India, which made the team struggle to set up plays on offense and lag behind Lebanon's athleticism.

India returned home for Game 2 against the team which would be their weakest opponent in the group, Syria, on Sunday, November 26th. The game was held at the Sri Kantaveera Stadium in Bengaluru and was India's first-ever home FIBA qualifier. Family obligations ruled out star player Amritpal Singh, and the team had to contend without any members of their "Big Three". After a competitive first quarter, Syria took complete control of the game and opened up a double digit lead by the third period. Despite a few bright flashes by Satnam Singh, all of India's comeback attempts were futile. The team continued it's offensive struggles and turned the ball over 23 times. Syria, led by Michael Madanly's 21 points, won the game 74-57.

India are now down 0-2 and the road will only get tougher for here. The Syria game was the easiest opportunity for a group stage victory. Their only bright spark has been Satnam Singh - averaging 11.5 points and 8.0 rebounds per game - but even he was expected to be much more dominant with the opportunity to start for the national team.

Over the next two international qualifying windows in February and July, India will face the same two teams plus Jordan twice. Jordan is currently on top of Group C with wins over Syria and Lebanon so far. To qualify for the Second Round, India have to finish among the top three of their group. The Second Round will be held between September 2018 to February 2019. Recovering from this early hole will be a challenge, but hopefully India can have more of their star players available for the next window and pick up a surprise victory or two.

The 2019 FIBA World Cup will be held in China in August/September 2019.

November 25, 2017

Hoopdarshan Episode 55: NBA India's MD Yannick Colaco

The NBA has made ambitious inroads in India over the last few years, from the elite level like the NBA India Academy to the grassroots like the Reliance Jr. NBA programme. To discuss this, NBA India's Managing Director Yannick Colaco joined Hoopdarshan in Episode 55, where we also spoke about Kevin Durant's recent India trip, NBA's broadcasting and social media growth in India, and future development programmes in the horizon.

Listen to the latest episode where hosts Kaushik Lakshman and Karan Madhok also preview India at FIBA World Cup qualifiers, Amjyot Singh's foray into the NBA G-League, and Satnam Singh returning to India for the UBA League. We finish with our thoughts from the first month of the NBA, including some Porzingis-worship, Kuzma vs. Lonzo, Celtics dominance, 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!

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November 18, 2017

India's Men's basketball roster announced for FIBA World Cup qualifying games next week

After a month in training camp in Bengaluru, India has sharpened up its full list of probables to announce the 12-man roster for the FIBA World Cup qualifying games against Lebanon and Syria in the coming week. In FIBA's new competition system, this will be the first time that India will play in these home-and-away group qualifiers for the World Cup. Last week, the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) announced that Serbian coach Zoran Visic will be leading the team for the away game against Lebanon on Thursday and a clash against Syria at home on Sunday next week.

Team India will be captained by veteran point guard Akilan Pari and will feature one of the country's top players Amritpal Singh, who is on international break from his professional club in Australia's NBL, the Sydney Kings. Amritpal is sure to be the team's centerpiece in the next two games. India is loaded with talented bigs, including the country's first-ever NBA draft pick and former NBA G-League player Satnam Singh, former G-League draft pick Palpreet Singh Brar, Rikin Pethani, Jagdeep Singh Bains, Aravind Annadurai, and more.

Visic, who has coached India's Senior and U16 Women's squads in FIBA Asia tournaments earlier this year, has been appointed the men's team head coach, succeeding Phil Weber of the NBA's New Orleans Pelicans. He will be assisted by former India international Sambhaji Kadam.

India will be without the services of two of their top three players: Amjyot Singh, who is playing for the OKC Blue of the NBA G-League; and Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, who is recovering from a right knee injury.

Team India Roster
  • Amritpal Singh
  • Aravind Annadurai
  • Satnam Singh
  • Arshpreet Singh Bhullar
  • Akilan Pari - captain
  • Prasanna Venkatesh
  • Rikin Pethani
  • Prudhvi Reddy
  • Palpreet Singh Brar
  • Jagdeep Singh Bains
  • Arvind Arumugam
  • Gurvinder Singh Gill
  • Head Coach: Zoran Visic
  • Assistant Coach: Sambhaji Kadam

In the first round of the qualifiers, India has been grouped with Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon. Teams in each group will play each other home and away between November 2017 to July 2018 in the First Round. Listed below is India's schedule - the home team in each case is mentioned first:

  • November 23, 2017: Lebanon vs. India.
  • November 26, 2017: India vs. Syria

India's historic first home qualifier game against Syria will be held at the Sri Kantaveera Stadium on Sunday, November 26, starting from 7 PM. India will play the next rounds of games in late February and in June/July 2018.

At the FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon in August, India lost in the group stage to Jordan, and more surprisingly, to Syria. India were dissappointing after high expectations and were ousted in the first round.

The qualifiers will give India a chance for some redemption, beginning with the first two games later this month. Unfortunately, India will once again relying too much on the performance of their post players. Amritpal, Satnam, Palpreet, and co. can all be wonderfully dominant under the basket, but India is weak in terms of ball-handlers and creative wing players. There will be a lot of pressure for Pari to outplay opposing point guards, and the qualifiers will also be a good litmus test for his young back, Prudhvi Reddy. Without Bhriguvanshi, however, India will again struggle for consistency in setting up their offense as they did when he was hurt at the FIBA Asia Cup. Without Amjyot, they will also need more offense from sharp-shooter Prasanna Venkatesh from the wing.

India will find it difficult to get the win against Lebanon away from home, but back in Bengaluru against Syria is perhaps their best opportunity for a group stage victory. Let the qualifiers commence!

November 15, 2017

How the G-League has become a stepping stone for India’s NBA dreams

This article was first published in my 'Hoopistani' column on The Times of India Sports on November 4, 2017. Read the original version here.

Amjyot Singh is used to being a centrepiece on the basketball court. For the past six years, the 25-year-old, 6-foot-8 power forward has never played for a basketball team where he hasn’t featured in a leading role. He has been India’s leading scorer for half a decade of international competitions, starred at the domestic level for IOB (Chennai), Punjab Police, and the UBA League’s Delhi Capitals, and even when playing professionally abroad, has been a game-changer for successful teams in the Summer and Development Leagues in Japan.

But on a Friday night in Oklahoma City, deep in the Great Plains of central United States, Amjyot was sidelined. He sat on the bench through the whole game as the Oklahoma City Blue—the NBA G-League team that had drafted him two weeks earlier—secured a tense comeback victory over the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. It was the first time since he was a wide-eyed teenager in Chandigarh that he wasn’t an important contributor to his squad.

And yet, he would count it as one of the greatest days of his life.

Just two days before the game, Amjyot had secured his place in the final roster of the Blue, ensuring a contract with the team and suiting up in the team’s blue-and-white jersey. The day before the game, Amjyot posed proudly in his new ‘Singh 13’ jersey.

On his nonguaranteed contract, his future is blurry. He could be cut in the chance of an injury, of another prospect, or a player sent down from the Blue’s NBA’s affiliate, the Oklahoma City Thunder. He is likely to be the last man off the bench on the Blue’s roster until he proves his worth. But even in these uncertain times, the G-League possibility has shown him a path forward to his dreams that international prospects like him couldn’t even have envisioned several years ago.

The NBA, the world’s finest basketball association, launched their official Development League in 2001 with just eight teams, but with the ambition for it to eventually become into a true minor league ‘farm’ system to develop talent. Over the past decade and a half, this minor league has grown rapidly. Now, the recently renamed ‘G-League’ has 26 teams, each with a one-to-one affiliation with an NBA franchise. Over the past four years, around 15 percent of G-League players have received “call-ups” to play in the NBA.

The NBA remains every basketball player’s ultimate destination, the finest level of the game with promise of legacy, competition, fame, and money. But only the rarest of the rare cases make it to this stage.

Most other hoop dreamers around the world have to settle for other options. Players in North America have had a competitive NCAA college basketball circuit and other minor leagues. Professional leagues around the world—from Europe to China to Australia—have been alternative tickets to basketball success for so many others while they kept their NBA ambitions alive.

But the expanded presence of the G-League has helped create the most direct secondary option for players who are on the cusp of an NBA roster, who need to refine and retool their games enough to make those dreams come true. Additionally, it has become an option for NBA teams to stack their assets, to oversee young, raw players develop into future potential contributors.

Two and a half years ago, Punjab-born seven-footer Satnam Singh made history when he became the first Indian to be drafted into the NBA. Satnam was picked by the Dallas Mavericks, who immediately placed him in their minor league affiliate squad Texas Legends. Satnam played for the Legends for two years, earning bit minutes off the bench and never impressing enough to warrant an NBA call-up. Last month, he announced that he would be leaving the G-League behind to continue his basketball journey back home in India.

Last year, Palpreet Singh, another Punjabi big man, was drafted into the G-League by the Long Island Nets, but he never made the team’s final roster after training camp.

When he was drafted with the 103rd pick of the 2017 draft (the 25th pick of the fourth and final round) by the Blue, Amjyot became the third Indian citizen in a space of three years to begin an affair with the G-League.

Amjyot is the eldest, most-experienced, and most talented of the three, but still no closer to playing in the NBA itself. No Indian has yet made an NBA debut. The rise of the G-League, however, has suddenly opened new doors for Indian prospects. Realistically, his path to the NBA is still highly improbable; but thanks to the G-League, players like him can begin to envision the path for the first time.

As the league’s profile continues to rise, watch for many more Indians to follow on Satnam, Palpreet, and Amjyot’s footsteps in the near future. One of those players will eventually become a centrepiece for their team, become a G-League star, and make the next big leap and become the first Indian in the NBA.

November 14, 2017

UBA India hands multi-year contracts to 30 top basketball players - including Satnam Singh

For the past few years, the UBA India has introduced an exciting new avenue for Indian basketball players, launching short competitive seasons of their growing UBA Basketball League, helping India's top players improve the level of their game, and even roping in NBA legend AC Green as their new director of sport. Now, with ambitions to secure the services of their top players for the long term - before the Indian basketball bubble expands - UBA has handed multi-year professional contracts to 30 of their top Indian basketball players. This is the first time that basketball players in India will get guaranteed contracts of this length.

Earlier this month, the UBA signed Satnam Singh, the first Indian drafted into the NBA, to a contract with the league. Satnam had spent the past two seasons playing with the Texas Legends of the NBA's G-League and is set to join his home state's Punjab Steelers with the UBA. Now, they have followed up the big news with the announcement that 29 more players will be signed to contracts into seven of the eight UBA teams.

"I still remember the day I signed my first professional contract in the NBA," said AC Green. "It left a huge impression on my life. Now these players get to experience that same feeling that I once had upon signing my first contract. We are excited about our upcoming season and the future of Indian basketball."

The contracts range from three to five years for a combined total of more than Rs 16 crore. In addition, the signed players will also receive basketball and fitness training from top experts in the USA, along with nutritional guidance to help them maximise their potential.

Apart from Satnam, the players signed to these contracts include several with past or present Indian national team experience, such as Palpreet Brar, Rikin Pethani, Anil Kumar Gowda, Muin Bek Hafeez, Yadwinder Singh, Jagdeep Singh Bains, Prasanna Venkatesh, and TJ Sahi. India's top three players - Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, Amritpal Singh, and Amjyot Singh - are absent from this list, even though all of them participated in the UBA's last season. Bhriguvanshi is recovering from an injury and has been signed by the NBL's Adelaide 36ers as a reserve. Amritpal has become the first Indian to play in the Australian NBL after he was signed by the Sydney Kings. Amjyot was drafted by the NBA G-League and is currently playing for the OKC Blue.

List of players signed with UBA to multi-year deals - via SportStar
  • Bengaluru Beast: Palpreet Brar, Loveneet Singh Atwal, Kaif Zia, Visu Palani, Khushmeet Singh Atwal.
  • Chennai Slam: Chukwunanu Agu, Cammy Carmel, Rikin Pethani.
  • Delhi Capitals: Anil Kumar Gowda, Muin Bek Hafeez, Vinay Kaushik.
  • Haryana Gold: Yadwinder Singh, Akashdeep Hazra, Himanshu Sharma.
  • Mumbai Challengers: Jagdeep Singh Bains, Prasanna Venkatesh, Prudhvi Reddy, Jeevanantham Pandi, Dildar Brar.
  • Pune Peshwas: Siddhant Shinde, Arshpreet Bhullar, Ajinkya Mane.
  • Punjab Steelers: Gurvinder Singh Gill, Sagar Joshi, Harmanpreet Singh, Taj Sandhu, Kaushal Ravi Kumar, Satnam Singh, TJ Sahi, Vikas Mor.

In India, where there is no full-time professional league and the top basketball players are semi-professionals that usually have other jobs, multi-year contracts are a major step forward in helping top talent get job security. Hopefully, this translates to better play on court and more competition in players aspiring to play and star for the UBA.

The Mumbai Challengers won Season 4 of the UBA League in March earlier this year, led by their foreign imports Alex Scales, Jimmy Scroggins, Inderbir Singh Gill, as well as experienced Indian veterans Bains and Venkatesh. The new guaranteed contracts, inclusion of Satnam in the fray and AC Green in the management side, plus the continuing improvement of the players, should help in another great season of basketball when UBA returns for Season 5.

November 10, 2017

Zoran Visic assigned as Coach of India's Men's basketball team for FIBA World Cup Qualifiers - Probables and Schedule

The Basketball Federation of India (BFI) announced on Thursday that Zoran Visic - the experienced Serbian basketball coach who has been at the helm of India's Women's basketball teams this year - will now be appointed to a new challenge. Visic has now been assigned Head Coach of India's Men's basketball team for the upcoming round of 2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers. The BFI has also released a list of 19 probables for Team India for the qualifying games against Lebanon and Syria later this month.

Visic's open attitude to new challenges have helped him become a surprisingly ubiquitous presence in Indian basketball over the course of the past few months. He was originally hired to be the head coach of India’s women’s senior national team in June. In July's FIBA Asia Cup in Bengaluru, he helped India win the (secondary) Division B of the competition. To maintain continuity, the BFI appointed him Head Coach of India's U16 Women's squad, too, and he repeated his feat, helping the team secure the same success (Division B win) in the same city (Bengaluru) at the FIBA Asia U16 Women's Cup last month.

Visic's counterpart for India's Senior Men's team - at the FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon earlier this year - was experienced NBA coach Phil Weber. But Weber's appointment only lasted a few months in preparation and until the end of the Men's Asia Cup - there had been a void at the helm of the Men's team. With Visic available, the BFI turned inwards to find someone who had gained some understanding of the Indian system to lead the Men's squad forward for the next few games.

Visic is a FIBA World Instructor and has over 34 years of professional basketball coaching experience across Serbia, Romania, Russia, Yugoslavia, Lebanon, and Singapore. He was appointed coach of the Men's team earlier this month at the beginning of the Senior National Men's Coaching Camp for the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers that is currently going on in Bengaluru at Sree Kanteerava Stadium. Visic's assistant coaches for the national team are Paramdeep Singh, Shambhaji Kadam and Laldingsanga Hangsing.

The camp, which started on November 1, will be held until November 20, before India fly to Lebanon for their first qualifying game on the 23rd, and then return home for the second qualifier against Syria on November 26.

The 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup is scheduled to be held in China from August 31 - September 15, 2019. In the run-up to this biggest-ever event, FIBA is holding home-and-away style qualifiers over a space of 12-18 months to decide the tournament's final 32 qualifiers.

In the first round of the qualifiers, India has been grouped with Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon. Teams in each group will play each other home and away between November 2017 to July 2018 in the First Round. Listed below is India's schedule - the home team in each case is mentioned first:

  • November 23, 2017: Lebanon vs. India.
  • November 26, 2017: India vs. Syria
  • February 23, 2018: India vs. Jordan
  • February 26, 2018: India vs. Lebanon
  • June 28, 2018: Syria vs. India
  • July 1, 2018: Jordan vs. India

To qualify for the Second Round, India have to finish within the top three of their group. As they currently stand in the FIBA rankings, India are the third-best team in Group C, behind Jordan and Lebanon. At the FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon in August, India lost in the group stage to Jordan, and more surprisingly, to Syria, The qualifiers will give India a chance for some redemption, beginning with the first two games later this month.

With the exception of Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, India's lead guard who has been struggling with injuries all year, the BFI has named a strongest-possible list of 19 probables for Team India at the qualifiers. This list includes Indian stars Amjyot Singh and Amritpal Singh who are currently in the NBA G-League and the NBL in Australia respectively.

Full List of India's probables
  • Amjyot Singh
  • Amritpal Singh
  • Aravind Annadurai
  • Yadwinder Singh
  • Satnam Singh Bhamara
  • Arshpreet Singh Bhullar
  • Arvind Kumar BK
  • Arvind Arumugam
  • Gurvinder Singh Gill
  • Muin Bek Hafeez
  • Akilan Pari
  • Prasanna Ventakesh
  • Rikin Pethani
  • Baladhaneshwar Poiyamozhi
  • Prudhvi Reddy
  • Palpreet Singh Brar
  • Vishal Kumar Gupta
  • Jagdeep Singh Bains
  • Arjun Singh

It is unlikely that Amjyot and Amritpal will return to the national team from their professional obligations to take part in the first round of these qualifiers. But the team does feature a number of other exciting players to keep an eye on. On top of the list is of course Satnam Singh, India's first NBA draft pick, who left his NBA G-League team a few months ago to focus on developing his game back home. Satnam got limited opportunities behind Amjyot and Amritpal in the FIBA Asia Cup, and these qualifiers could be his chance to prove that he could be a star for the national team. Palpreet Singh Brar, India's first NBA G-League draft pick, is among the probables, too. Experienced Punjabi bigs Yadwinder Singh and Jagdeep Singh Bains will be there to provide veteran leadership. India's issue, as before, will continue to be the imbalance between frontcourt and backcourt, as there is a shortage of star guards in Vishesh Bhriguvanshi's absence. A lot will depend on the development of rising young star Baladhaneshwar Poiyamozhi.

India will struggle without the Big Three of Bhriguvanshi, Amjyot, and Amritpal, but Visic has always focused on team success before highlighting individuals, and hopefully, he can help a new round of players carry the team forward.

November 7, 2017

BFI announces 2017-18 seasons of Indian School and College Basketball Leagues

After a brief hiatus, the Basketball Federation of India's (BFI) premier nationwide school basketball league returned to action last year. Now, cleared of some of the cobwebs blocking Indian basketball, the BFI is set to bring back with a blast both the Indian School Basketball League (ISBL) and the Indian College Basketball League (ICBL) for the 2017-18 season in 22 states and territories around the country.

ISBL will be held between December 25, 2017 to March 15, 2018 in each participating states. ICBL will be held between April 18, 2018 to July 31, 2018. The winners of the Boys and Girls categories in School Leagues and Men and Women categories in College Leagues from each state will qualify for the Indian School and College Basketball Leagues - National Championship later in 2018.

According to the BFI, the ISBL and ICBL will create a structured, self-sustaining system which will serve as the platform to increase organised basketball participation at grassroots level and subsequently serve as the talent development system for the Indian National Teams. These leagues are organized in such a way that it extends to a period of around 6-8 weeks where each team plays only one match every week. Also, the School Leagues have certain regulations which helps each and every player to get a good amount of playing time to showcase their talent.

List of states organizing ISBL and ICBL for the 2017-18 season
  • Indian School Basketball League: Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry, Odisha, Chandigarh, Telangana, Gurajat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, West Bengal, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Indian College Basketball League: Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry, Odisha, Chandigarh, Telangana, Gurajat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Rajasthan.

The previous editions of the School and College League have helped provide the Federation a wider talent pool out of which many of the top performers went on to represent India in different age groups. In 2014-15, Baladhaneshwar Poizamozhi from the ISBL and Muin Bek Hafeez from the ICBL both went on to make their Indian national debuts this year.

Rs. 25,000 will be awarded to the State Level Champions in both ISBL and ICBL, whereas the first and second runners-up will get Rs. 15,000 and 10,000 each, respectively. The details, including dates and locations, for the National Championships in both leagues will be announced soon.

Hopefully, the return of these comprehensive leagues can strengthen the backbone of grassroots Indian basketball and make it easier for talented players to get a platform to shine and improve.

November 2, 2017

NBA and Dream11 launch daily fantasy basketball game in India

Fans of Fantasy NBA, who have for years closely chronicled and competed on Yahoo!, ESPN, etc will be glad to know that there is now an officially-sanctioned option exclusively for Indian fans. The NBA in India has partnered with Dream11, a fantasy sports portal, to launch their official NBA Fantasy Game this season.

NBA and Dream11's official game will be a free daily fantasy game available on in India, and can also be accessed via and the Dream11 app, which is available for download via the App Store and the Google Play Store. Users can create a team with 100 playing credits, join contests, and win a variety of prizes and rewards, including gift cards, NBA merchandise, Dream11 game bonuses, and the opportunity to win a trip to the USA for the the 2018 NBA Finals.

More via

"We are excited to partner with the NBA to add basketball to our growing set of fantasy sports offerings," said Dream11 CEO and Co-Founder Harsh Jain. "Fans of the official NBA fantasy game will enjoy a fast and responsive platform which delivers a rich user experience. We believe that avid and casual fans alike will enjoy this simple and easy to understand way of engaging with the NBA."
"The official NBA fantasy game with Dream11 will be a great platform for fans to engage with the league alongside millions of NBA fans," said NBA India Managing Director Yannick Colaco. "Fantasy basketball provides an engaging fan experience and can help drive tune in to our NBA game broadcasts on Sony SIX and Sony Ten 3."

Dream11 was originally launched as a Fantasy Cricket site before they expanded to Football, Kabaddi, and now, NBA.

Go here to start playing the NBA Fantasy Game!

November 1, 2017

Indian basketball star Amjyot Singh makes OKC Blue roster in the NBA G-League

Last week, Indian basketball fans received a new excuse for celebration, a continuing Diwali miracle: homegrown basketball star Amjyot Singh had beaten the final buzzer and drafted among the final picks of the NBA's G-League Draft by the Oklahoma City Blue. Amjyot's selection was the 103rd pick (the 25th pick of the fourth and final round) of the night, ensuring that the Blue would have the rights to bring him in for his medical, training camp, and a possibility of making the team's final 2017-18 roster.

For the past week, the 25-year-old Amjyot has been in Oklahoma City, competing with other young dreamers for the final available spots. On Tuesday, the Blue waived two players from training camp and announced their final roster for the season - which included Amjyot! The 6-foot-8 forward will play stack up among Blue players such as PJ Dozier and Daniel Hamilton for a team led by Head Coach Mark Daigneault.

G-League contracts are non-guaranteed, which means that Amjyot can be dropped at any point in case of injury, better options, players being sent down from the Blue's NBA affiliate Oklahoma City Thunder, etc. Still, this is big news for Amjyot. He has become the third Indian citizen to flirt with the G-League, after India's first NBA draft pick Satnam Singh played for the Texas Legends for two years and Palpreet Singh was became the first Indian to be drafted in the G-League - by the Long Island Nets - last year. Palpreet, however, never made the Nets' final roster.

Amjyot is one of India's most talented basketball players, one of the national team's "Big Three" along with Amritpal Singh and Vishesh Bhriguvanshi. For the past five years, he has been India's most consistent scorer on the international stage and helped India to many high-profile victories. Amjyot played professionally in Japan's Summer League and Development League a few years ago and is an accomplished international 3x3 basketball star. Originally from Chandigarh, the 6-foot-8, 25-year-old forward was India's captain and leading scorer at the recently-completed FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon. Amjyot was trained at the Ludhiana Basketball Academy in Punjab and played domestically for IOB (Chennai), Punjab Police, and the Delhi Capitals of the UBA League.

October 29, 2017

Mongolia (Men), Australia (Women) win 2017 FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup; India women finish 4th, Men 9th

Basketball's new, short version took another successful step towards its exponential growth this week. In Mongolia, the top 3x3 basketball teams from Asia and Oceania took part in the 2nd FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup in Ulaanbaatar from October 27-29. A total of 27 men and women's teams participated in this quickfire tournament, including teams from India. By the end of Sunday, hosts Mongolia took home the Men's gold in front of their home fans, while Australian women finished atop their division.

In the tournament's previous iteration in Qatar, India's women won the gold medal. This time around, however, they were ousted in the semi-final stage and had to settle for fourth place. India's men's team failed to make it out of the group stage and finished at ninth.

Mongolia met New Zealand in the Men's final and pulled away in the final minutes for a 19-14, thanks to the play-making of MVP Dulguun Enkhbat and the scoring of Tsenguunbayar Gotov.

Australia, in their debut in this tournament, were led by MVP Isabell Bourne en route to a 21-15 victory in the women's final.

China defeated India's women 21-16 to secure third place. Australia won third-place in the men's division, defeating Kazakhstan 21-18.

India's women, a team that featured Shireen Limaye, Jeena Scaria, Raspreet Sidhu, and Grima Merlin Varghese came into the tournament with aspirations to defend their gold medal from Qatar. In the group stage's Pool D, India beat Kyrgyzstan in their first game 20-12, but lost to New Zealand in nail-biter 16-15. India defeated Mongolia in the Quarter-Final 16-14, but their entry to the finale was blocked by Malaysia who defeated them 19-13. India's final game was a third-place matchup against China, which they lost 21-16 and finished fourth.

India's men's team featured Ravi Bhardwaj, Anil Kumar Gowda, Gurvinder Singh Gill, and Jeevanantham Pandi. They had to begin the tournament in the qualifying round. After losing to Chinese Taipei 21-15 in the first game, they defeated Lebanon 21-19 to sneak into the group stage. Here, they lost both of their matchups, first to China 22-15 and then to Kyrgyzstan 21-19, and their hopes of making the knockout rounds were dashed. India finished at 9th place.

India's Women had two scorers in the tournament's top ten, Raspreet Sidhu and Shireen Limaye.

Men's Team of the Tournament: Dulguun Enkhbat (MVP - Mongolia), Alonzo Burton (New Zealand), Lucas Barker (Australia).

Women's Team of the Tournament: Isabella Bourne (MVP - Australia), Fook Ye Yap (Malaysia), Jinxian Wang (China).

Shoot-Out Contest winner: Fook Ye Yap (Malaysia).

Final Standings

  • 1. Mongolia
  • 2. New Zealand
  • 3. Australia
  • 4. Kazakhstan
  • 5. China

  • 1. Australia
  • 2. Malaysia
  • 3. China
  • 4. India
  • 5. Mongolia

Australia win gold at 2017 FIBA U16 Asia Championship for Women in Bengaluru; Team India celebrate Division B victory!

For the second time this year, India played host to one of FIBA Asia's marquee basketball events in the region, with the top youth women from over a dozen Asian nations descending into Bengaluru's Sri Kantaveera Stadium for the 2017 FIBA U16 Asia Championship For Women. As the week-long tournament concluded on Saturday, October 28th, newcomers Australia - playing under the Asian banner for the first time - took the gold medal with a thrilling win over Japan in the final.

India, meanwhile, began the tournament in the lower Division B. With many encouraging performances, India dominated the second-tier of the competition, winning all of their games in comfortable fashion and securing a qualification to Division A in front of their home fans.

The Division A final pitted the two strongest teams of this year's competition - Australia and Japan - against each other. Japan have been to every final of this tournament (five consecutive times), but only won once, back in 2011. Leading 41-32 at halftime on Saturday, it seemed that they would finally add another gold to their tally. But Australia amped up their defense after halftime were able to edge Japan to secure a nail-biting 61-60 win. This was the first time that teams from Oceania (Australia, New Zealand) were playing in this tournament, and Australia celebrated their entry with a debut gold.

Also on Saturday, 2015 champions China defeated New Zealand led by Ming Zheng (20) and Yutong Liu (17) to secure third place.

The top four teams from Division A - Australia, Japan, China, New Zealand - qualified for the FIBA U17 Women's Basketball World Cup.

Two years ago, India had a forgettable experience at the FIBA U16 Asia Women in Medan (Indonesia), losing all of their higher division games and getting relegated to Division B. This had been a similar situation with India's senior women's team for this year's FIBA Asia Women's Cup in Bengaluru earlier this year. India's coach - the Serbian Zoran Visic - helped the senior team finish that previous tournament in perfect fashion and regain Division A status. Visic was named head coach of the U16 team by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) to help repeat his achievement for the younger girls.

India started the 2017 U16 championship in Division B's Group A, alongside Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the last-minute addition, Iran. India opened the tournament in dominant fashion with their best offensive performance: led by a dominant all-round performance by Vaishnavi Yadav (23 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, 8 steals), India blew past Nepal to a 106-37 win. Captain Pushpa Senthil Kumar added 18 points and 11 rebounds to India's winning effort.

Game 2 against another South Asian competitor Sri Lanka proved to be more of the same. India started the first quarter in style, getting a 30-7 lead, and cruised to a 86-58 victory. Monica Jayakumar had her breakout moment with 19 points and 8 rebounds, while Kumar was unstoppable in the post again (18 points, 19 rebounds).

India's most interesting group opponent was set to be Iran, a late entrant to the women's basketball stage in the continent. After a hesitant start, India took complete charge in the second quarter and dominated on both ends of the floor after halftime for a convincing 97-53 win. Vaishnavi Yadav (29 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists) was at the top of her game, leading five Indians in double figure scoring.

India had now earned a qualification straight for the semi-final, where they played a much taller Kazakhstan side. But the height disadvantage didn't stop India, and instead, spurred to the team to a strong defensive effort. Led again by Yadav (21 points, 15 rebounds), India shut down the Kazakhs to win 77-40.

In the senior women's final against Kazakhstan, India had needed a dramatic game-winning shot by Shireen Limaye to secure their Division B victory. In the U16 final against Malaysia, however, no such heroics were necessary. Like they had been all tournament, India were dominant from the star, holding Malaysia to just three points in the first quarter and holding a 32-24 halftime lead. Another spurt in the third and some tenacious defensive work helped India close the game out with a 64-48 win.

India ended the tournament with a perfect 5-0 record, won Division B, and secured their promotion to Division A for the next iteration of this tournament.

The biggest star to emerge for India from this championship was Uttar Pradesh girl Vaishnavi Yadav. After making a name for herself at the Youth Nationals for UP earlier this year, Yadav enjoyed her major international breakthrough in front of an eager home crowd. She finished the tournament as Division B's leader in points (20.4 ppg) and joint leader, with another Indian Neha Karwa, in assists (6.2). Yadav was also India's second-best player on the boards, grabbing 8.8 rebounds per contest. The team's captain Pushpa Senthil Kumar was also a major force in the post, finishing as the division's second-best rebounder (13.2 rpg). Karwa was a steady presence for India all tournament, too, and could be a guard to watch for the future.

Final Standings
  • 1. Australia
  • 2. Japan
  • 3. China
  • 4. New Zealand
  • 5. Korea

October 27, 2017

NBA Legend AC Green joins UBA India as Director of Sport

Through a 16-year career in the NBA, big man AC Green made a reputation for himself as the ultimate 'Ironman' of the league. He played in 1278 out of 1281 games in his career (99.8%) and made the record for most consecutive games played in NBA or ABA history (1,192). His efforts bore him great fruit, as Green won three championships through the course of his career with the Los Angeles Lakers and even made the 1990 All Star Team.

Now, Green will hope that his experience and tenacity will brush off on to a new generation of athletes - all the way in India.

After conducting four iterations of their trail-blazing basketball league in the country, UBA India (United Basketball Alliance) announced on Friday that they will be appointing Green as their Director of Sport. Green will help to continue develop the league with his experience and become the most famous international face attached to UBA's efforts in India.

“Today, we continue our commitment to India and the game of basketball by adding a key member to our team who brings the game’s highest level of professionalism to the UBA," said Tommy Fisher, UBA Chairman. "We’re excited to have A.C. as part of our team and look forward to continued growth of basketball in India.”

Green is no novice to India. He visited the country first in 2009 for grassroots programme and to inaugurate an NBA donated basketball court in Mumbai.

“Basketball is such an important part of my life and I am happy to be heading to India once again to help further the growth and development of the sport I love," said Green. "The UBA has made great strides in the last two years and I look forward to building upon that success.”

Green was drafted by the Lakers in 1985, where he won two championships as part of Magic Johnson's "Showtime" squads as a youngster. In the mid 90s, he played for the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks, before returning to the Lakers for one more championship in 2000 with Shaq and Kobe. He retired after a final season with the Miami Heat in 2001.

The UBA held the first season of the UBA Basketball League in Hyderabad in July 2015. Ever since then, the league has held three more seasons, expanded their events to more cities like Pune, Chennai, and Bengaluru, broadcast games live on Ten Sports, welcomed a number of celebrities to promote the league, and took their elite players for coaching to the United States. This year's Season 4 was UBA's biggest one yet: in addition to incorporating more foreign imports into the league, they were also able to secure the talents of India's best players in their teams, and thus significantly raise the level of the game. Green's involvement adds yet another facet to their development plans for basketball in India.

October 26, 2017

Former NBA player Andre Miller to drop dimes in India next week

They call him "The Professor" in NBA circles. Andre Miller played seventeen years in the NBA and finished his career ranking top-ten in assists in league history. And yet, he never played in an All Star Game, was never considered for an All NBA Team.

Miller's majestic quality to NBA lore came in the form of quiet, efficient leadership. For seventeen years, he played for nine different teams, spreading his wisdom and spreading the offense, helping talented players get open shots, young players learn from his experiences, and when asked to, dropping in a good share of points on his own. Now, the retired NBA player will bring his valuable dimes to basketball's next big market - India - to support the continued growth of basketball in the country.

Miller will travel to Delhi-NCR on October 30th, where he will visit the NBA Basketball School. On October 31st, he will lead a clinic at the NBA Academy India in Greater Noida. During his trip, he will also appear on the 'Around the Hoop' NBA roundtable show on Sony SIX in Mumbai.

"I'm looking forward to my first visit to India to see firsthand how the NBA has been developing basketball in the country," Miller said. ""I understand there's a lot of potential in India, and I'm excited to contribute to the growth of the sport."

Originally drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1999, Miller played arguably the best basketball of his career in a Cavs jersey, highlighted by the 2001-02 season when he finished with 16.5 points per game, a career-high and league-leading 10.9 assists per game, and a career-best 4.7 rebounds per game. From then on, he became a league journeyman, suiting up for the Clippers, Nuggets (twice, and for the longest duration of his career), 76ers, Trail Blazers, Wizards, Kings, Timberwolves, before retiring after a final season with the San Antonio Spurs. His best scoring output was with the 76ers in 2007-08, and he retired with averages of 12.5 points and 6.5 assists per game for the course of his career. Miller only missed three games to injury in his 17-year career. He's the only player in NBA history to have at least 16,000 career points, 8,000 assists and 1,500 steals without making an NBA All-Star Game.

We welcome Professor Saab to India. Hopefully young players here will learn from him, just like some of the NBA's biggest stars have done over the years.

October 24, 2017

India Men and Women gear up for 2017 FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup in Mongolia: Rosters and Preview

India has taken on quicker than most to basketball's newest international format, the 3x3 version of the game. Perhaps its because, while many other countries have saved their top talents for the game's full (5x5) game, India has often sent the best available players to all versions of the game. Without a domestic basketball league, our top players are often ready and eager to play in as many competitions as possible. And it was in this spirit that India's women's senior team famously took home the gold in FIBA's first-ever Asian 3x3 basketball championship, held in Doha, Qatar, in 2013.

Four years later, Indian Women and Men will return to the senior 3x3 Asian stage with expectations to keep shining while the rest of the world has gotten more serious about this format.

The 3x3 FIBA Asia Cup 2017 is set to be held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, from October 27-29. 15 Men's and 12 Women's teams will be taking part in the three-day quick-fire championship.

In the tournament's previous iteration in Doha, the home squad Qatar took the Men's gold with a win in the final against Saudi Arabia. The Women's title was won by India against this year's hosts Mongolia in the final. Playing in a tougher fray, India's men were knocked out in the Quarter-Final stage in 2013.

This year, team's from Oceania will also be taking part in the Asian competition system. Based on recent 3x3 points accumulation rankings, India's outlook is not looking good: we are ranked bottom of all teams in both the Men's and Women's rankings. Japan, New Zealand, and Kazakhstan have been the most favoured Men's squads in the lead up to this tournament; the Women's teams to watch will be Kazakhstan, China, and Turkmenistan.

India's Women are drawn in Group D of the tournament with Kyrgyzstan and New Zealand. India's Men's team will have to first get out of the Qualifying Draw's second group against Chinese Taipei and Lebanon, before being pooled into one of the four Men's groups.

FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup Pools

  • Pool A: Japan, Bahrain, Mongolia.
  • Pool B: New Zealand, Qatar, QD1 Winner.
  • Pool C: Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka, QD2 Winner.
  • Pool D: China, Kyrgyzstan, QD Best 2nd.
  • Qualifying Draw 1: Turkmenistan, Australia, Malaysia.
  • Pool D: Chinese Taipei, Lebanon, India.

  • Pool A: Kazakhstan, Chinese Taipei, Australia.
  • Pool B: China, Sri Lanka, Mongolia.
  • Pool C: Turkmenistan, Malaysia, Qatar.
  • Pool D: Kyrgyzstan, New Zealand, India.

India's rosters for FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup
  • Men: Ravi Bhardwaj, Anil Kumar Gowda, Gurvinder Singh Gill, Jeevanantham Pandi.
  • Women: Shireen Limaye, Jeena Scaria, Raspreet Sidhu, Grima Merlin Varghese.

All four members of India's women's squad were in the team that helped the national squad complete a perfect qualifying campaign at the FIBA Asia Women's Cup in Bengaluru earlier this year. This team has a good combination of current stardom (Scaria, Limaye), experience (Sidhu), and youth (Varghese) and could upset some of the higher-ranked teams in their group. The men's team doesn't feature any of India's most-popular players who are all vying for their trades in leagues abroad, but has a good second string of talent that has emerged in the country over the past few years.

The odds are, unfortunately, stacked against India in both the sections. Our women will find it difficult to make it out of the group to the final rounds, and the men's team might struggle even finishing top or second in their qualifying draw. But 3x3 is an unpredictable game, and hopefully, some of the momentum of the past can help India beat the odds and bring home some silverware.