A world famous sport but its lesser known players are from India
Although the predominant sport in India is Cricket, followed by football, there is a growing majority that is fascinated and inclined towards the game of Basketball. Controlled by the Basketball Federation of India, the India men’s national basketball team represents the country at International Men’s Basketball. While Basketball remains neglected in the country, there are gems emerging from the ghettos of India making the country proud.
Akilan Pari, 5 ft 10 inch high, served as the captain of The Indian Basketball team in 2018 playing at the point guard position. He has also captained the Tamil Nadu State’s official lineup in U-13, U-16, U-18, and senior level. In 2013, he was selected in the Sprite Uncontainable Game of the NBA All-Star Weekend getting coached by NBA superstars like LeBron James and Serge Ibaka.
Through district level tournaments, Bhriguvanshi made it to the national basketball team in 2009, since then there has been no looking back. He went on to compete in many FIBA Cups and Championships, with his best performance at the 2016 FIBA Asia Challenge. The next year, Bhriguvanshi became the first Indian player to sign a deal with an NBL (National Basketball League, Australia) team, Adelaide 36ers.
A huge name in Indian Women’s Basketball, this shooting guard from Varanasi is the first Indian basketball player to be conferred with the civilian award Padma Shree. Singh has 23 medals in the National Championships, National Games and Federation Cups in India. Singh even holds the record of highest medals tally in National Championships.
A prodigy of the Ludhiana Basketball Academy, Satnam Singh is the first Indian player to be drafted into National Basketball Association (NBA American league) in 2015. Singh has earned immense respect for playing in St. John’s Edge. Singh has also built a professional career playing for Texas Legends from 2015 to 2017 and St. John’s Edge in NBL, Canada since then.
Geethu Anna Jose
Former captain of the Indian Women’s Basketball Team, Jose is the first professional Indian woman basketball player to play for an Australian club, Ringwood Hawks from 2006 to 2008. Pertaining to her most valuable player performance in 2008, she had clinched a spot in Team Dandenong in the Women’s NBL (Australia’s elite professional league).
Interestingly, India is a 1936 founding member of FIBA Asia and has one of Asia’s longest basketball traditions. India’s basketball team won four gold medals and one silver medal at the South Asian Games. At the 2014 FIBA Asia Cup, Team India won against China men’s national basketball team by 7 points, the ‘biggest basketball-win in the nation’s history’. Few other basketball players from India are Rikin Pethani and Anitha Pauldurai among others.