Watching basketballers dunk is a delight for the spectators, but a few years ago the organisers of a tournament at the Regional Sports Centre here were far from thrilled when international S. Robinson attempted one that brought the hoop down.
“Robinson will not have any such problems with these. He’s such a fine player, I would have loved to have him now,” said Troy Justice, NBA’s senior director, basketball operations (International), after watching the Kerala junior stars attempt shots on the new boards, costing Rs. 25 lakh, which the RSC has brought from Germany, here on Tuesday evening.
With some of the country’s young stars like K.S. Poojamol, Elizabeth Hilarious, both junior internationals, and Vinaya Joseph and Premi P. Lal at the NBA clinic for players and coaches here, Justice was very positive about India’s prospects in basketball.
“When I first came, there was a smaller group of players to select from, now there is a larger group,” he said.
“It’s more competitive to make the national team now than what it was four years ago. We have some great young talent, the future’s bright.”
He was impressed with the hunger shown by the coaches too. “It’s always a pleasure to be in Kerala. I love to see the progress that’s being made here,” said Justice.
“The coaches are very attentive and want to grow and develop. Of course, the players they are working with are able to give them pointers and tips. It’s been good all the way.”
Justice has been travelling all over the world to make the game’s base bigger. The main difference between India and some of the top countries is the amount of basketball being played.
“That’s number one. And then, because of the monsoon and heat, we do need more indoor infrastructure but that is not going to hold basketball from growing,” he said.
“Great players will develop on playgrounds and concrete courts all over the world so it’s not an excuse but like today, these players are getting six hours on the court with me because we have a roof over our heads. That provides shelter, so they are getting more time.”