Thank you for the article.
Hi guys. Here's an article written by Rick Olivares (Filipino) on India's Young Cagers. The author is in Jakarta writing about Smart Gilas and their experiences growing up as a team. Smart Gilas is the developmental national team of the Philippines composed of college players. The other national team of the Philippines is the PBA Powerade Team which is made up of professional players.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
India's Young Cagers: The Young and the Restless
by Rick Olivares
JAKARTA, INDONESIA -- Aleksandar Bucan is a long way from Serbia. After plying his trade in his native country where he played for Partizan, Radivoj Korac, and Zemun and coaching in Europe, the Belgrade native now finds himself in India coaching its basketball national team.
On the way to the Britama Arena, he sits quietly thinking of the storm that is coming. His Young Cagers are truthfully that both in name and in age.
India is far from a basketball country. The sport is so far down the line of priority that Bucan wryly notes that “we just have scraps.”
The roster of the Young Cagers isn’t even the best of India. Many of its best players play for the corporations that employ them. So they are part time hoopsters and part time white-collar workers. Government support is a pittance and when the national team is training, their allowance totals a measly $9 a day.
“What can you do with $9?” says Bucan throwing his hands up in exasperation. “No one will be motivated to play.”
But how is one motivated when there is no professional league. There are no proper basketball courts and facilities to train. For many of the cagers, the FIBA Asia Champions Cup is one big adventure until they figure out that it’s time to get a real job.
That the team advanced to the quarterfinals is victory in itself and Bucan is willing to swallow his pride at the coming beaten by Iran that has been making a name for itself in Asia as a basketball power. “But it is opportunity.”
He commends the Philippines for its love of the game and has plenty of good words for its head Coach Rajko Toroman. “Step in the right direction for Filipinos. In India…” His voice trails off. “It is opportunity.”
On the way to Britama Arena, forward Trideep Rai has his feet perched atop the high seats of the bus. He smiles at his teammates and tells a joke.
Bucan closes his eyes and lets out a sigh that no one hears.
Against Iran, its dangerous forward Nikkah Bahrami fakes Rai out of his Air Jordans then throws up a three-pointer that is all net. With 1:17 left in the first quarter, Iran is up by 20. Rai has a sheepish grin then looks at Bucan. Bucan cocks an eyebrow and gestures to his player. “That’s why you shouldn’t stay too far from your man.”
With point guard Talwinderjeet Singh taken out by the tight guarding His opposite Mahdi Kamrany, India’s offense goes south quick. Center Jagdeep Singh who his oft the beneficiary of drop passes by Tal cannot buy a shot.
Iran’s high-flying American reinforcement Jackson Vroman and Bahrami take apart the Indians’ defense.
Bucan takes a seat, folds his arms, and leans back. “It’s for experience, he would later say.
His Iranian opposite Mostafa Hashemi meantime remains standing. He has not sat down all match long as if his team was far behind. It’s Iran 44 India 20 with 5:15 left in the second quarter.
With 2:03 left in the second quarter Talwinderjeet fouls out. He throws his headband on the bench in disgust and mutters in his native tongue. Bucan looks at him.
Hashemi pulls out Vroman not even bothering to send 7’2” Priest Luaderdale into the game. “We’ve got two more matches,” blurts out Vroman on his way back to the bench.
Iran leads by 26 at the half 50-24 and they don’t even bother to go to the locker room at the half. They know it’s over.
Jagdeep Singh refuses to give up. He talks trash to Iran’s 6’11” Hooman Razaee who points a finger at him. “Don’t do that to me again or else…” he warns the Indian about his roughhousing. Singh looks back and on the next possession buries a turnaround jumper with Razaee all over him. He beats on his chest.
On the next trip back, Iran buries India with an artillery barrage from medium and long range.
Bucan’s Young Cagers in the meantime are no longer laughing. They’re sucking in air and looking bewildered. Rai would later exclaim, “When people ask me what I do, I say I play basketball for national team. Then they ask, ‘We have national team?’ So I say yes and they look at me like I am joking.”
But no one on the team is laughing and outside the rain is coming down in Jakarta.
India's campaign in the 20th FIBA Asia Champions Challenge Cup:
lost 63-88 Al Arabi Qatar
beat Al Wasil UAE 82-76
lost to Zain Jordan 59-90
lost to Satria Muda Britama Indonesia 59-79
lost to Mahram Iran 73-97
Last edited by lovejones; 05-17-2009 at 12:51 PM.
Thank you for the article.
The whole life is summarized in two things;
Hankering for what we don't have
Lamenting for we have lost
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