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KEEN EYE FOR TALENT Australian junior coach Ian Stacker at the camp
KEEN EYE FOR TALENT Australian junior coach Ian Stacker at the camp

Australian junior coach Ian Stacker has many useful tips to offer 20 players who are being trained by him at a camp in the city

“Left, right, jump and shoot,” says former Australian junior basketball coach Ian Stacker. His booming voice echoes throughout the J. J. Indoor Stadium, Kilpauk. The 20 Tamil Nadu senior state probables for the National basketball championship are excited to work with a man who is considered a successful coach in Australia and has a reputation for spotting talent.

He’s not the kind who only offers advice. He’s someone who demonstrates how a player should shoot during a counter-attack.

On the second day of a 21-day camp at the stadium, Sukavaneswar, one of the State’s talented hoopsters, said Stacker’s entire focus was on the importance of shooting. His idea was not to waste time while aiming at the target.

Taskmaster

Stacker is known to be a hard taskmaster and the boys will surely learn a thing or two during the camp. But how they incorporate the coach’s suggestions into their own game is anybody’s guess.

“Though every aspect of the game is honed at a clinic, during a match, old habits creep in. The same mistakes are repeated over and over again,” says a former player.

Tamil Nadu won the National basketball championship five times in a row without a foreign coach. But the last two years have seen a perceptible dip in the team’s performance.

Can Stacker change the fortunes of the State team in a matter of 21 days? How fair is it to make a coach who is visiting India for the first time shoulder the burden?

“With Stacker’s presence, it’ll be child’s play for Tamil Nadu to win the Nationals,” said A. N. Dyaneswaran, Chairman and Chief Patron, Tamil Nadu Basketball Association.

Aezaz Ahmed, Sports Officer, IOB, feels it’s totally in the hands of the players to make full use of the clinic.

Impressive record

Stacker’s track record is impressive. A respected coach Down Under, Stacker’s major achievements in his 25-year coaching career include guiding the National junior team to two World championship titles in 1997 and 2001 and being voted National Basketball League Coach of the year twice in 2001 and 2003. As a representative of Australian Basketball Resources, run by former Olympian Andrew Gaze, Stacker plans to visit schools and colleges to popularise the game.

Interestingly, Dyaneswaran said this was the start of the TNBA’s five-year ‘Go basketball for gold’ programme.

Stacker believes he can deliver. “I can give them advice on how to win. I have a feel for each player’s strong points. My philosophy is to make even a 40-year-old player improve his game.”

K. KEERTHIVASAN

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