Amateurs all, but the cutting edge performance of the U.S-based team Shooting for Success wowed fans at the recent Chennai Invitation All-India tournament

Jatin, a Seventh Standard student of DAV School, was seen desperately asking for a sheet of paper on Tuesday night. Moments after the match, a group of teenagers, including Jatin, rushed to the court to get autographs.

This doesn't happen usually in a basketball tournament. But when a foreign team exhibits fine athleticism, wonderful outside shooting, and a blend of individualism and collective play, people tend to get attracted.

The U.S.-based team, Shooting for Success (SFS), captured the hearts and minds of the faithful who thronged the Corporation Grounds, Venkatnarayana Road, T. Nagar, during the Chennai Invitation All-India tournament, organised by city-based Trotters BC recently.

SFS is neither an NBA team nor does it consist of those aspiring for the highest level in the sport. Though comprising a bunch of amateurs, it was the most attractive team of the lot.

Miles ahead

Shooter Terry Fields, forward Agu and pivot Jeremy Whites made teams such as Indian Overseas Bank, ONGC and Services look pedestrian. Be it passing, drives-in, lay-ups or outside shooting, SFS was miles ahead of the club teams going on to clinch the men's title.

“Our objective is to promote basketball and provide entertainment. Through basketball, we want to teach life's lessons,” said John Jungers, SFS coach.

Started seven years ago by D. J. Jones, SFS's campaign in India began in Mumbai in the year 2008 for the Savio Cup All-India tournament. Since then, the team has been regularly visiting the country, creating an aura with its playing style and winning numerous fans along the way.

Jungers, who has been coaching school and college teams in Texas since 1995, is a household name in America. He is keen SFS develops into a good team. “I connect with the agents and help the players become better professionals and human beings,” he said.

Tapping local talent

Jungers said he was keen to engage with Indian players. “We would like to identify players aged between 17 and 19, and try putting them in universities in the U.S. based on their talent and performance,” said the 39-year-old.

Tushar Patel, SFS manager, said, if not for M. Venkatesh (vice-president, Basketball Federation of India), its Indian campaign would not have been possible. “He provided us the guidance and encouragement and that helped us grow,” he said.

Tushar is eager to collaborate with Indian hoopsters as the experience will stand them (Indians) in good stead in the future. He felt it was possible to get Indian players to play in the ABA league or other profitable but minor leagues in Dubai or elsewhere. “Everybody will benefit. It's a win-win situation,” he said.

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MetroplusJune 28, 2012