Posted On Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 06:35:56 AM
Cricket in India is like religion and even foreign stars of other sports on several ocassions have felt a connect with cricket and India. This was again witnessed on Tuesday at PYC Gymkhana when NBA star Brandon Jennings could not restrain himself from taking a cricket bat in his hand.
His love for cricket could be gauged from the incident when he went straight to the practice nets at the cricket ground before attending the scheduled basketball clinic for children and coaches. “I have heard a lot about cricket after arriving in India.
I wanted to take a cricket bat in hand and try a few shots on the field since long. It’s a nice game,” said Jennings. The basketball star hit some long shots and took a few runs.
The American youngster is a known celebrity in the basketball faternity and since his high school years, where he was rated as one of the top recruits in the United States, Jennings played one season in Italy for Lottomatica Virtus Roma, a top Euroleague team. He was selected with the 10th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks.
|NBA star Brandon Jennings on the cricket field
He also guided his team to the NBA Playoffs in his rookie season and became the first player to win Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month four times. Jennings became the youngest player in NBA to score 55 points in a game in 2009.
The legend is on India visit as part of the NBA’s continued commitment to grow the game in the country. Jennings participated in a clinic organised for children and coaches who took part in the Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA programme.
When asked about the present basketball scenario in India he replied that he has not heard much about the Indian basketball, and said, “India might have not produced big names in the basketball in the past, but there is no dearth of talent which I have realised during the Jr NBA and WNBA clinics where children are keen to learn.
The only need is to provide them a proper platform to learn the basics. Jr NBA and WNBA is a proper platform to make youngsters’ dreams come true.” Notably, the Indian basketball team is on the 15th position in Asia and their best performance came in the year 2007 where India stood 4th in Asia.
On being asked about the growth of basketball in India when Indians are not heavy built, Jennings said, “Basketball is fun and an easy sport. One only has to put the ball in the hoop and I think if that is done with perfection anybody can play it.
I don’t agree that one has to be tall and well-built, you just have to understand the right technique of the game. Even you can play,” he added. About basketball’s more popularity in America, Jennings said, “Our style is a bit different but game is always played the same way everywhere.”
He hoped that children in India will make wonders in basketball with their honest efforts. “Having played in Italy, I have seen first-hand how the sport is growing globally and I am excited to be in India with the NBA to help continue the growth of the game. The NBA has the best basketball players from around the world and I wish to see one of the kids I teach here play against me in the NBA one day”.
NBA’s plan in India
Director (operations) NBA in India, Troy Justice, while briefing about the league’s programme said, “There are three priorities in India. The first one is to build and grow the game of Basketball throughout the country. Our second objective is to focuse on the grassroots programmes and encouraging people and kids to play more basketball. And then we want to train and develop coaches and players.