Quality international exposure was agreed as the main path to progress, on the eve of the 64th IMG Reliance National basketball championship scheduled to be held at the Thyagaraj Indoor Stadium here from February 26 to March 5.

While national coach Scott Flemming was thrilled that the subject came up for discussion, the legendary basketball coach from the NBA, Del Harris, with 53 years of coaching experience at various levels including a stint as the head coach of Los Angeles Lakers, said that it was one of the 14 points that he gave to China.

The coaches agreed that it was not easy to get international exposure apart from the regular regional competitions but stressed that individual players needed to go abroad on educational scholarships and hone their game under good coaches to strengthen the national team.

It was stated that the Europeans camped in the US right from High School and that NBA had more foreigners than Americans, which helped in the development of various teams around the world.

Of course, some of the Indian youngsters have been busy training in the US with the support of IMG Reliance, but it was agreed that a lot more students had to be playing in the US to get better foundation and training.

“When we go for Asian championships, we find the other teams have players who have played 30 to 40 matches. We definitely need to have more games. Why only top four, I want our team to be No.1 in Asia”, said Scot Fleming, while elaborating on the limitations faced by the Indian side.

The NBA Hall of Fame coach, Del Harris, also stressed that height was not the only thing and striking a good balance was the key to success.

He recalled that it was a mistake that China had committed when preparing for the Athens Olympics in 2004.

Gigantic task

Moving on to the organisation of the championship, the CEO of the Basketball Federation of India, Roopam Sharma said that it was a gigantic task to accommodate about 1000 people in hotels and that the overall cost of organising the championship was more than a crore rupees.

She also pointed out that the cost of hiring the Thyagaraj Stadium was about Rs.50,000 a day. She mentioned that Delhi could not provide good coaching centres and thus the facility of Jaypee Greens in Greater Noida, with accommodation facilities, was being utilised for training the national men’s and women’s teams.

Uttarakhand and Railways will attempt to defend their title.

The top three teams each from group ‘A’ and ‘B’ will qualify for the knock-out stage while two others teams from the other four groups will make the cut.

In women's section, Delhi finds itself clubbed with Railways and Kerala, but has vowed to be among the medals.

The championship was originally scheduled to be held from November 26, but had to be postponed owing to elections.

Roopam Sharma noted that some of the youngsters may be busy with examinations but the coaches would keep track of the best players in various age groups and ensure the best selection for the national team.

The groupings:

Men: Group ‘A’: Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, Railways, Chhattisgarh, Delhi; Group ‘B’: Punjab, Services, Rajasthan, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh; Group ‘C’: Haryana, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal; Group ‘D’: Karnataka, Chandigarh, Jammu and Kashmir, Puducherry. Group ‘E’: Maharashtra, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha. Group ‘F’: Gujarat, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram.

Women: Group ‘A’: Railways, Delhi, Kerala, Karnataka, West Bengal; Group ‘B’: Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh; Group ‘C’: Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir; Group ‘D’: Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Jharkhand; Group ‘E’: Rajasthan, Chandigarh, Odisha; Group ‘F’: Bihar, Assam, Puducherry, Uttarakhand.

More In: Other Sports | Sport