LAST YEAR, when Chandigarh basketball player Amjyot Singh opted to sign the NBA D league player contract and opted for the try-outs along with Amritpal Singh and Palpreet Singh, the then 24-year-old player missed out on getting drafted into the NBA D league. On Saturday, as the 6 feet and eight inches tall Chandigarh player was picked up by Oklahoma City Blue as the 103rd pick in the NBA draft, it was an end of long wait for the Gill family in Chandigarh. Amjyot’s father Mohinder Singh Gill, a former national-level basketball player, works as sub-inspector with Chandigarh Police while mother Nirmal Kaur Gill is also a former athlete. The couple were busy offering prayers in a local gurdwara on Saturday evening.
“Last year, Amjyot Singh did not get selected, so we were hoping that it happens this time. It is a special day for us and hence we went to the gurdwara and prayed for Amjyot’s success in the draft,” said Nirmal Kaur Gill, mother of Amjyot.
A total of 146 players as compared to last year’s 186 were included in the NBA G league draft and a total of 26 NBA G League teams picked players in four rounds. “It was a dream come true to have my first-ever try out with Philadelphia 76ers’ G League team. If I get drafted, it will be a huge step for me, my hometown of Chandigarh and the entire Punjab/Indian basketball community,” 25-year-old Amjyot told Chandigarh Newsline moments before the start of the draft.
While Amjyot initially started playing cricket and aspired to become a fast bowler, a back injury meant that he had to leave cricket and opt for basketball. The youngster led Punjab to the title in junior national basketball in 2010 apart from representing India at the U-16 level in Children of Asia Games in Russia. After making his debut for the senior Indian team in 2011, Amjyot scored the highest number of points for India with 20.9 points per game in nine matches in the FIBA Asia Championship in China before playing for Tokyo Excellence team in Japan’s own D league and winning the second division championship the same year.
Amjyot , who is managed by Pursuit India, also played for Japanese team Hamamatsu in FIBA 3X3 World Tour in Abu Dhabhi last year, where the team finished as runners-up. “Amjyot joined the Ludhiana Basketball Academy in 2009 and he was a junior at that time. In 2010, he represented India in the Asian Junior Basketball Championship and made his debut for the Indian senior team in 2011. He trained initially under the late Dr S Subramanian and it helped his game a lot. When he played in Japan last year, he would share his experience with the trainees at the academy.
The entry in the NBA G league is a big step in his career and it will put him on a par with the 100 players who play in the league. More than 30 per cent of these players play in NBA afterwards and I am sure he can play in NBA one day,” said Teja Singh Dhaliwal, general secretary, Punjab Basketball Association and in-charge of Ludhiana Basketball Academy.