Alexander Bucan watches the most exhilarating action on Indian basketball courts with a face so stolid,you wonder if hes here in India on the spiritual beat to meditate. But perhaps India far removed from basketballs epicentre,even in Asia needs some dispassionate viewing,to gauge the enormity of the tall-order of raising standards here.
Kickstarting preparations for the Asian Basketball Championship in August at Tianjin,China,Bucan will start working with the 25 probables of the India camp after watching his second national championships at Surat. The Serb,into his second year as coach,speaks up or booms down,from 64 above:
What makes India a challenge?
Changing the Indian style of play from freelance to set-play was the toughest part of my job,since it is so difficult to change players habits. There is no habit for set-defence here but I insisted on the team-game going in offence and defence and never surrendered on that point. The results are slowly showing. There is so much space for development of basketball and weve not had big results till now.
What stops Indian basketball from rising above its present standards?
The system heres different from professional leagues elsewhere. Most players would struggle for a decent pair of shoes throughout 365 days. Its still difficult in India to get them to focus on the game solely. They have day jobs to keep. For some more time at least,were going to be almost amateurs competing against professionals at the international level.
Tactically,what are the desired changes amongst Indias ball players?
One major area for improvement in India is in the physical style of play,as Indian basketball lacks quality in contact-play. A contact game will give them the desired confidence.
What were the main gains from the Surat Nationals?
Ive seen a lot of options in the point guard position where earlier we had only Sambhaji Kadam. Theres Arjun from Uttarakhand,and Punjabs Talwinderjit Singh who have impressed playing at No 5,and competition always helps. Its good to see how juniors like Vishesh (Bhrugavanshi) and Arjun have made the difficult transition from junior to senior level seem so easy. In terms of improvement,Vishesh tops the list hes a real find. Also good to see was how boys from Chhattisgarh are playing the big game thats one centre that has developed fast.
How do we reconcile NBA thats watched on TV with what our players are expected to play?
Theres the NBA system,what we see on TV,and the FIBA style that we must follow,because well be competing at FIBA events with those rules. The two are not very similar. Players can pick moves from NBA,but we cant be guided entirely by that. In the last 10 years,of all countries in Asia thatve risen in the rankings mostly Gulf countries Jordan and Syria have European coaches,strictly following the FIBA system.
Can Indians continue playing with their modest average-height squads?
Not really. Of the 5 positions,height is important lets say all-important to 4 of those in both high-post and low-post. We have to get taller players,except for the one position where vertical advantage is not required.