Basketball’s watershed moment

Aayush Majumdar 
Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Dhruv Barman and Amritpal Singh excited about NBA Pre-season matches coming to India

Mumbai: Indian basketball had a game-changing moment on December 20, 2018 when the National Basketball Association (NBA) announced that two pre-season games would be played in Mumbai in October 2019.

Many keen followers of the game believed it would be a ‘watershed’ moment for the sport in India, and their thoughts were echoed by two of India’s star players of the sport in Amritpal Singh and Dhruv Barman.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Red Bull Reign basketball tournament in Mumbai, Barman, India’s top-ranked FIBA 3-on-3 player, said,” It’s massive to be having two NBA sides playing for the first time in India. It’s going to do big things for basketball in our country and I’m excited for not just the event but also what the future holds.”

Expressing his thoughts on the same was Amritpal Singh, another superstar of the game in India. “India will benefit a lot from the NBA games in October. We will definitely see more participation in basketball in the time to come and hopefully investment in our sport will also see a rise post the NBA games,” said the 27-year-old. 

Barman and Singh hope that the NSCI in Mumbai would be packed to the brim when the Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings step onto the court for two preseason games on October 4 and 5.

Dhruv’s in the groove
Dhruv Barman has made giant strides in recent time, leading the way for India in the 3x3 format. The 25-year old was as pumped up while talking about the game as he always is while competing on court, and spoke about constantly striving for bigger things as an athlete.

“I’m the kind of guy who always likes to aim for the stars, This sport has given me everything, gotten me out of many difficult situations in life and I just give everything I have on court when I’m competing,” said Barman.

He showed great confidence in the Indian team’s chances of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics next year, and his own performances in the next few months will be key to the same.

“I’m going to work twice as harder than ever before to fulfill my dream of representing India at the Olympics. 2020 is what we’re aiming for in the 3X3 circuit, and I hope we can make it. India is not far away from an Olympic medal in basketball, I’m sure about that,” said Barman, who left behind life in Canada to return to India as soon as he realised he had a chance to play for the country. 

“If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough,” said an optimistic Barman who is ready to help India to newer heights in basketball.

Amritpal for  leagues
At 6 ft 11 in, the towering Punjabi Amritpal Singh looks like he was always destined to be a basketball player. Although, what has been a result of more hardwork than destiny is what he has achieved at a young age.

Amritpal became the first Indian-born player to be signed by an Australian NBL team, when he was picked by Sydney Kings for the 2017-18 NBL season. He made not just himself, but also the nation proud by his performances in Australia.

He hopes to see a lot more Indian ballers get the useful experience of playing with and against some of the top players outside India and add to their skills.

The former captain of the Indian team also spoke about his experience of leading the side.

“It’s an honour just to represent India, and then being the captain was a completely different challenge altogether. I enjoyed it,” said the captain of eventual champions Northern Spartans in the Red Bull Reign. 

Injury woes have kept him out of the Indian team for over a year, but the experienced campaigner is ready to make it back into the side.” Since making my debut for India in 2011 I have been a regular member of the team, but the last year and a half has been difficult with injuries. Having said that, I feel fully fit now and can’t wait to start my journey back into the team,” he said.

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