Table of Contents
India was one of the first countries in Asia to adopt basketball but the craze of the sport has never spread like wildfire unlike its counterparts Cricket, Football, or even Kabaddi which has once again gained mainstream media’s attention in the last few years..
The Humble Beginnings of Basketball in India
Thomas Duncan Patton, the acting general secretary for the Calcutta YMCA between 1893 and 1895 introduced the sport of basketball to the nation for the first time. Patton was one of the first players to ever play the sport as he was a part of the ‘first team’ that ever played basketball in Massachusetts in 1891.
Introduction to the sport in India
In his two-year stint in Kolkata, Patton introduced the sport to India before venturing out to other Asian countries like China, Korea, and Japan before returning to India for another two-year stint that saw basketball being popularized among women, although slowly.
Early challenges and milestones
With the onset of the 20th century, India started becoming a significant power in sports like football and cricket as basketball took a backseat. In fact, the first-ever recorded basketball match was played in India in 1930 with the first National Championship held in New Delhi in 1934.
In 1936, India became a part of the International Basketball Federation, commonly referred to as FIBA but the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) wasn’t established till 1950 after India was freed from the colonial powers of the English nation.
Indian Stars Making Global Waves
Sim Bhullar opened up the pathway for Indian basketball players to the NBA as he became the first player of Indian descent to feature in the popular basketball league.
Profiles of Indian players in international leagues
In the 2015 NBA Draft, Satnam Singh made history as he became the first Indian to be picked by an NBA team, the Dallas Mavericks. Singh couldn’t justify the pick to the best of his abilities though as he is nowadays seen on the All Elite Wrestling roster earning his paychecks in professional wrestling.
The Chandigarh-born Amjyot Singh Gill won the Senior National Basketball Championship with Punjab in 2012 as the northern state defeated Tamil Nadu in the final by 8 points. In August 2015, Amjyot was signed by Tokyo Excellence, a side playing in the National Basketball Development League, the second-tier basketball league in Japan.
After impressing for the Tokyo-based side with 18 points per match in his first season in Japan, Amjyot was next signed by Oklahoma City Blue and Wisconsin Herd as he plied his trade in the United States of America between 2017 and 2019. These days, the 31-year-old represents Patriots BBC, four-time champions of the Rwanda Basketball League.
The Future of Basketball in India
Indian sports in on the rise as seen quite evidently in the recently concluded Hangzhou Asian Games where the Indian contingent bagged a record-breaking 107 medals: With parents and teenagers across the country realizing that different sports could be taken up as a profession and not just a passion, the nation could see the upheaval of basketball over the next few years.
Upcoming talents and prospects
The past decade has seen a lot of firsts in Indian basketball with the pathway to foreign leagues now open for up-and-coming basketball players courtesy of stalwarts like Satnam, Amjyot, and Amritpal Singh.
Amaan Sandhu is the hottest prospect in Indian basketball as of now and he is taking a rather distinct route to the NBA as he is currently playing in Division 1 of the NCAA Collegiate Basketball League.
Currently playing for Monmouth University, Sandhu is hopeful of getting picked in the upcoming NBA drafts as 50 of the first 60 players picked in the last NBA draft were from the first division of the NCAA.
Standing at 2.16 metres tall, the Mohali-born basketball player is quite confident of his chances to make it to the NBA but it wasn’t always like that as he had to take a few tough decisions including persuading his family to let him join a college in the USA.
“My parents didn’t know much about college basketball in the USA. So I had to educate them on how that puts me one step closer to professional basketball. I made them understand that I was getting to go to college for free and I’m getting a degree. If I graduate, I of course will have a chance to go to the league but after that, my degree is going to help me in whatever I decide to do,”he said.
The role of leagues and tournaments
Apart from the leagues and tournaments organised by the schools and the universities in India, most of the government organisations have their basketball teams which compete in the National Championships. ONGC, Indian Overseas Bank, Indian Bank, Mahangar Telephone Limited, Indian Railways, and even the Kerala State Electricity Board field their sides on the national stage.
UBA Pro Basketball League comprising eight teams was the first-ever professional basketball league in India and ran for four seasons between 2015 and 2019 but failed to get the attention of the mainstream media.
In 2022, UBA was replaced by the Elite Pro Basketball League and comprises 16 teams. The league owners recently staged a four-day 3×3 tournament which is set to be followed by a full league of 5×5 matches.
Betting Tips for Basketball Enthusiasts
People who are well-versed with the rules of basketball find betting on the sport pretty easy compared to other sports as basketball only involves 6 or 10 players at once on the playing court compared to the usual 22 players in most team sports.:
Basketball betting is done in a number of separate ways and one can use the method they prefer after going through all the available options.
Point spread betting: This generally refers to choosing the winner of the match by a certain point gap. There are a lot of bookmakers available in the online market and every bookmaker sets a certain number of points by which the favorite team has to win for the bettor to make a profit.
Totals: The second-most common method of basketball betting is to guess whether the two teams would score a total of certain points or not. Different bookmakers set different benchmarks for a particular game and you can choose from a plethora of options whether you wanna go over or under a certain points total.
Parlays/Teaser: Parlays betting involves a method via which one can use the moneyline wagers and place bets on which side will win the match irrespective of the point difference. On the other hand, Teasers are made by using the point spread which can be adjusted in the bettor’s favor. In the case of both parlays and teasers, the bettor has to win all the bets placed to get the winning amount.
Outright bets: Outright bets can be made over the course of a season by guessing the winner of the NBA or the NCAA tournament.