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Pacers and Kings to play in India

Exciting times: NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum, left, and Yannick Colaco, NBA India managing director are bullish about the league’s growth in India.

Exciting times: NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum, left, and Yannick Colaco, NBA India managing director are bullish about the league’s growth in India.  

Will square off in two pre-season games in October at Mumbai next year

Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings will face-off in two pre-season games at the National Sports Club of India indoor stadium here on October 4 and 5, 2019, according to Mark Tatum, NBA Deputy Commissioner.

Named the ‘NBA India Games 2019’, this is the first time two sides from the popular basketball league would be playing in India and is seen as a culmination of NBA investment in developing interest for the sport in the country.

Tatum said that Pacers volunteered to play in India in keeping with its reputation of being a young, exciting squad. Kings’ majority owner is the Mumbai-born Vivek Ranadive and for whom the India connect is understandable.

“We are making these investments in growing the fan base (for NBA) for the last seven years. The time is now right to get teams to play games here. We know that when we get the NBA here, fans will be excited to watch and there will a lot of activity around these matches,” said Tatum.

Asked about activities around the October games, Tatum said: “We are doing several NBA Cares event in the community. Every time we go somewhere, internationally or in the USA, we always give back to the community.”

Assessing the investment over seven years in India, Tatum pointed out: “We don’t have a Yao Ming (Chinese star who played in the NBA) here, but in the last three years, India has had a player who got drafted (into the NBA) in Satnam Singh. I know because I called his name at the draft and shook hands with him when he came up.

“Amjot Singh is playing in the NBA Second Division and Princepal Singh, a kid from the NBA India academy, was sent to an NBA Global Academy in Australia, where the best academy prospects compete. He (Princepal) has a shot at playing college basketball and even the NBA, so we are seeing progress. The talent is there, we see skills improving at the academy. It takes time to take kids to that (NBA) level.”

Yannick Colaco, NBA India MD, said: “We are proud to be the first global sports league to bring games of this scale to India.”

In his message, Ranadive said “The Sacramento Kings are proud to be playing in the first NBA games ever held in India. As an Indian-American, it is an honor to help bring this historic moment to the country where I was raised.

“The world wants to watch basketball and India is a fast-growing new frontier."

“We are thrilled to be one of the first two teams to play the first-ever game in India and proud to be part of the expanding NBA worldwide footprint of our sport, ” said Pacers owner Herbert Simon in his message

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 10:42:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/pacers-and-kings-to-play-in-india/article25790977.ece

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