Three by three cheers to Indian hoopsters

Anitha Pauldurai takes us through a journey that reveals the secret to the Indian women’s 3x3 basketball team’s success

Written by Shahid Judge | Published:May 28, 2013 5:01 am

When the Indian women’s 3×3 basketball team reached Doha,Qatar,for the inaugural FIBA Asia 3×3 Basketball championship,they were informed that the formidable Chinese

and Thai sides had pulled out of the tournament. All of a

sudden their vague underdog status changed and they became instant favourites. True to their new status,the Indian team won the tournament,playing in a final against the team from Mongolia.

Of course,not everything went in favour of the Indian team.

For starters,three of their four players were considered

shorter than average basketball players,the return of veteran

Manisha Dange might have provided the experience but may

have been at the expense of more youthful players,the young

Pratima Singh was fairly inexperienced at this level,and,as

admitted by Anitha Pauldurai,there was an added pressure as

being favourites to win. Yet they found loopholes and won all

their games convincingly.

Although being tournament favourites did boost the morale and confidence of the team,there was something that

was even more important for the players. “What worked really

well for us was the team chemistry,” said Pauldurai,citing

that three of the four players,Pauldurai,Manisha Dange,and

Geethu Anna Jose have played together for the Indian Railways team for several years. “Each knew exactly how the other played.”

The team’s average shorter height shaped the way for their

tactics. Pauldurai,Dange,and Singh would fire in three-point

shots,with a high success rate,and the six-foot-two-inch Jose was there to convert the rebounds. Jose was also there to drive in at the opposition. “Three pointers and driving are very important in the 3×3 game and our tactics supported that style of play,” said Pauldurai.

While team chemistry played a part in the success,the players

also employed a unique tactic to prepare themselves before

each game. “All we did was talk casually,joked around

and talked about our families,” said Pauldurai a few seconds

after she managed to suppress her laughter. “It was very useful since it made us feel at ease and lightened the mood.”

Even the added pressure of being tournament favourites was

calmed by this tactic. What also helped in the final was the fact that the Indian players knew how the Mongolian team functioned,having played them in the semi-finals of last year’s

Asian Beach Games at Haiyang.

Along with the importance of the tournament success,the

occasion also marked the return of Manisha Dange to the international stage. Pauldurai mentioned that the game became much easier with Dange’s experience. “It was great to play with her again.”

In terms of the future of the sport,Pauldurai said the 3×3 is a

faster game,but is a good way to capture awareness about

Basketball and perhaps even shed some light and fame onto

the original five-a-side format.

Although the mighty Chinese and Thai teams did not participate in the event,the four Indian players in Doha did make a name for themselves and raised hopes for the future of basketball,in a country dominated by a single sport. While the team dwelled on the experience of Dange and the guile and class of Pauldurai and Jose,the team also made way for the future with the youngest of the illustrious ‘Singh Sisters,’ the 23-year old Pratima. Overall,India had a well balanced side that rightfully deserved to be champions.

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