ABC's and More
As I write this I am in Gandhinagar, India, the birth place of Gandhi. I am staying at a remote sports center training the U16 Boys national team. They are preparing for the Asia Basketball Championship in Iran. Certainly one of the best parts of my job is growing close to these young men and helping them grow as a player and person. I guess I can say that has always been the highlight of coaching over these past 30 years.
Earlier this month my senior team participated in the Asia Basketball Championship in Manila, Philippines. Prior to the event I was able to take the team to Istanbul, Turkey for an exposure trip where we trained and played exhibition games. While the ABC tournament was very challenging this was a great event to be a part of. There were 15 countries represented from all over Asia. We played against 5 former NBA players as well as many professional players and those that have played at a high level of college ball in the states. The venue was an NBA type arena that was packed when the home town Philippines team played. Our team improved 3 spots from the last time they participated by winning 2 games. We had a great chance to beat Japan that is ranked 23 spots higher than us in the FIBA world rankings. We led for 37 minutes but couldn't finish them off. Must have been coaching. I was educated to the methods that many countries use to become more competitive. All but 2 teams had a "naturalized" player that was usually a big man from the U.S. In addition, several of the teams had players from the U.S. that had someone in their family that was of the same decent of the countries they were playing for. At this point, India doesn't allow us to take avantage of either of these options. In most cases these were there best players. There lies one of the biggest challenges we have at the international level. We were encouraged by our performance but not satisfied. That is a good thing. This month long experience (including our trip to Turkey) was a real time of bonding with the team for both Chawn and I. It was great to have her along as the "Team Mom".
I am heading for Cuttack for the U18 Indian National Tournament this week. I will be evaluating the players and putting together a list of those that will be invited to our national training camp. From there I will be joining the U16 team again on a trip to China for training and competition before the ABC's. I will be busy this fall training players, conducting coaching clinics and developing a training curriculum for the basketball coaches of India.
I am looking forward to being back in the US in November. My plans are to go to the MVNU Homecoming. I am anxious to see the new arena I spent so many years planning for and developing the design. I then will be going to LA to spend time with my two sons for about a week. While there we will head up to Sacramento for a Kings game. Their new owner, Vivek Ranadive, is originally from Mumbai, India. His recent accomplishment has been a real encouragement for India basketball.
We have now been in India for 10 months. Things are not always easy here but we still have a peace that this is where God has placed us. I will continue to do my best to make a difference for India basketball and for a greater cause.
Salt & Light