India to launch professional league

Basketball
is set for a facelift in cricket-crazy

India with a professional league
planned for later this year and a foreigner signed as the national coach.

The
Basketball Federation of India is also close to completing a deal with the US
National Basketball Association (NBA), according to federation secretary Harish
Sharma.

“We
have signed up Serbian Aleksandar Bucan as the national coach. We are also
close to signing up a deal with the NBA,” Sharma said in a newspaper
interview published Sunday.

The NBA
deal would allow Indian players, administrators and coaches to get expert
training in the game.

“Aspiring
basketball players of the country will train under top American coaches. Their
coaches too will visit

India
to train our staff,” Sharma told the Times of India.

The
proposed league will feature a dozen teams and will be backed by the game’s
world governing body, Sharma said.

“We
have worked out the format but there are other logistics to be looked
into,” he said.

Basketball
is played in schools across

India
but sports such as cricket and field hockey are more popular.

India
‘s national basketball team
finished fourth in the Asian men’s championships in 1975 and also qualified for
the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

India
does not even qualify for the
Asian Games now, but Sharma was confident that a push from the NBA would revive
the sport.

“Any
association with the NBA will help us get mileage,” said Sharma.