The opening up of the NBA Academy in India was seen as a big development for the future of basketball in India. NBA is obviously the biggest basketball tournament in the world and is one of the most popular and most followed sports leagues. As such, young kids being provided the opportunities to train with elite minds and play with some of the best basketballers in the USA and Australia was thought to be a dream come true for several players.
However, there is also a different side to the coin and more recently, problems have emerged in the relationship between the NBA Academy and Indian basketball. Speaking about the same to Sportstar, national head coach Veselin Matic mentioned, “In India, we have the NBA Academy which is working to develop basketball. But without our knowledge they are sending players out of India, so how will we play?
“For example, we have Prince (Pranav), Amaan (Sandhu), and Principal (Singh) out of India (they have gone to the US). They are all products from the NBA Academy we cannot use (for the national team). The NBA Academy has to cooperate with us more. We have to sit together and make a plan that is good for Indian basketball.
“I cannot say I’m unhappy (that they are going to the US). I’m just saying there should be a plan on how we can use the player.”
Unlike many other countries, India grants only singular citizenship and as such, it cannot allow naturalized players to play for the national team which causes a big problem not just in basketball but across all sports. Every player who leaves for better training facilities or opportunities abroad is a big loss for India’s national side.
Matic also feels that Indian basketball needs a wider base in order to regularly churn out talented players and build a sustainable ecosystem. He believes that they need to produce 15-20 top-level players every single year which results in around 120 players in six-seven years’ time, which is what Indian basketball really needs.
The Serbian head coach also thinks that the Indian boys’ runner-up position in the recent FIBA 3×3 under-17 Asia Cup would give the sport a much-needed boost.