Star Indian woman basketball player Geethu Anne Jose, the first from the country to be invited to the WNBA for a tryout, managed to impress the coaches of all three teams she trialled for with her “fundamentals“.
Troy Justice, director of basketball operations for NBA India, discovered Geethu and made it possible for her give the tryouts in the US circuit.
Between April 27 and May 4, Geethu competed with three WNBA teams — Chicago Sky, Los Angeles Sparks and San Antonio Silver Stars.
She reported back to the Basketball Federation of India (BFI), saying that she felt positive about her trials. “I feel like I have done well,” she wrote.
“The coaches of all the three teams liked my fundamentals - it is good for Indian basketball. I’ve given everything,” said Geethu.
Before attending the Sparks’ two—day audition, Geethu had an individual tryout with the Chicago Sky and flew to San Antonio in Texas to prepare for a two—day tryout with the Silver Stars.
“I was chosen after they saw my game on the DVD. I was also Asia’s top scorer twice in the ABC championship. I have played in Australian league 2006, 2007 and 2008. That’s Big V league, and I also played for Ringwood Hawks in Division 2 team in Big V league in Australia. In 2008, I got selected for the WNBL team, Dandenong Rangers, but I couldn’t go back to Australia and play due to domestic reasons,” Geethu told PTI from San Antonio, Texas.
“The tryout is a very big thing,” Geethu said.
“I wanted to do my best in the tryout. I didn’t want regret in my life saying ‘Oh, I should have gone for the tryout.’”
“I feel like if I get more opportunities to practice in the US and show what I can do, it would be better. Indian basketball is very different and lacks the aggressiveness that is required in the US,” she said.
Geethu realised the importance of aggression in the WNBA when she participated in the Los Angeles Sparks’ open tryouts with more than 60 other players hoping to score over each other in impressing coach Jennifer Gillom and general manager Penny Toler.
There were 20 foreign players in the WNBA from 13 countries who played last season and this year the number could go up with the NBA promoting the game globally.
Tim Mottin, coach of an Australian pro team, the Ringwood Hawks, zeroed in on her. Impressed with her style while watching her in 2006 Commonwealth Games, he invited her to play three seasons in Australia between 2006 and 2008.
“Geethu’s performance far exceeded my expectation coming in,” Silver Stars head coach and general manager Dan Hughes said.
“Jose was impressive with her shooting and astuteness while being put through numerous shooting, dribbling, rebounding, agility and offensive and defensive situational drills. What was amazing to me working her out was her listening ability was tremendous,” Hughes was quoted as saying.
“That was really pleasing, really exciting to see an athlete that cares that much about getting better. I enjoyed working with her. It was a favourable impression she left on me,” Hughes said.
The challenge for Geethu would be getting physically stronger and proving she is mentally resilient enough to survive.
“Basketball is coming up now because NBA is now doing a great job in India by promoting the sport,” she said.
“A lot of kids are following that. It’s growing now. I want to play at a higher level of basketball in my life.
Never, ever has a player from India played professionally and it’s my dream.
“That would be a great opportunity for me. When I grew up, I didn’t know whom to follow. Now the kids have someone to follow,” she added.
Keywords: Geethu Anne Jose