New Delhi [India], September 24 (ANI): The big moment for Indian basketball has arrived. Basketball Federation of India (BFI) announced INBL 5x5 which will see city-based teams in action representing Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata over three rounds before heading to the playoffs in January 2023. On offer for the teams and individuals is a prize money pool of over 50 lakhs.
A delighted K Govindaraj, President, BFI, and Vice-president, Indian Olympic Association (IOA), said," This day should be marked in golden letters in the history of Indian basketball. We are launching what has been the dream for millions of basketball fans in India. The format which is focused on local teams playing against each other in cities that are relatively more active hubs of basketball in India will ensure hundreds of talents are assessed on the ground for being filtered onto the next level."
"Earlier this year we launched and executed successfully the INBL 3x3 Season 1, which saw 9,000+ players in action in 20 cities across the country. The overwhelming response from the players proved the potential for basketball in India. The current goal of BFI is for Indian National Teams to be ready to play at the 2027 FIBA Basketball World Cup and possibly the Olympics thereafter. And I do believe with all the things being done now and planned, we are on the right track," he further added.
In his comments, Chander Mukhi Sharma, Secretary General, BFI, said, "Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the National Federation to ensure that there is sufficient competition for the players and coaches as well as there is enough entertainment for the supporters and fans. I am confident that INBL 5x5 which is being attempted for the first time in India will fulfill both objectives. Players from the National team and National camps over the past few years will be pooled together and distributed to the teams to ensure there is quality action on the court."
"In recent times, we have seen some very encouraging progress from our National Teams. The Under 16 team finished an unprecedented fifth in the FIBA U16 Asian Championship and the senior team to has shown steady progress in FIBA Basketball World Cup Qualifiers. All these are very encouraging signs for Indian basketball, " added Chander Mukhi Sharma.
The six teams will play three rounds - in Delhi, Pune, and Cuttack. The first round will be played in Delhi from Oct 12-16 followed by the second round two weeks later from Oct 26-30 at Cuttack. The third round will take place in Pune from Dec 14-18. The playoffs are scheduled to be held in Bengaluru from Jan 11-15. Each round will be spread over 5 days with the 6 teams playing against all the remaining teams once in a round-robin. Standings over three rounds will accumulate into final rankings which will form the basis for the seeding for the playoffs.
The Basketball Federation of India in recent times has made a name for itself as a top organizer of international FIBA events.
Starting with hosting the 2017 FIBA Women's Asia Cup, the BFI hosted the 2017 FIBA U16 Women's Asia Championship in the same year followed by the 2018 FIBA U18 Women's Asian Championship the following year. In 2019, the BFI was the host of the 2019 FIBA Women's Asia Cup and most recently hosted the 2022 FIBA U18 Women's Asian Championship.
"The successful hosting of these premier events to the satisfaction of FIBA Asia and FIBA standards has proven the BFI is a very capable and efficient host of international basketball events," said K Govindaraj, who in 2019 was awarded the FIBA Presidential medal for National Federations.
Chander Mukhi Sharma added: "The BFI has also taken an active interest in improving the knowledge and ability of the coaches through various coaching clinics and development programs of FIBA and SAI. We have also made a consistent endeavor to ensure our referees and technical officials are up to date with the latest rules and guidelines in the world. I think INBL 5x5 will showcase the overall improvement Indian basketball has achieved over the last eight years or so." (ANI)