Indian hoopsters can be world`s best: coach

New Delhi: The Indian basketball team may not have had too impressive an outing at the just-concluded Asian Games but it has got the talent to be among the best, feels men`s coach William Bill Harris.

Harris, while addressing reporters on the sidelines of the launch of Mahindra NBA Challenge, which will be held in the city next month said, "I am pleased with the way our players performed, though, there is no such thing like playing a perfect game."

"The players have the potential but it is a long term perspective to build a team. Building a team is just like building a house which is a stepwise procedure," he explained.

The coach, however, emphasised that the team has got a lot of exposure and watching them compete with quality opponents like Iran was heartening.

"You may say that we lost to Iran by a big margin but you should appreciate the way the team made a comeback during the second half of the game after going down 29-44 at the interval."

India managed to reduce the deficit to 11 points during the early phase of third quarter and were running ahead 8-4 during the fourth quarter before finally going down 63-78 to Iran.

The coach maintained that in order to be a formidable outfit the Indian team needs to play more as a unit.

"We need to keep them (players) together and make sure that they grow as a family and should learn to believe in themselves."

Harris also emphasised the need for better infrastructure for the sport to grow in India.

"We will have to develop better training facilities and need to have a proper strengthening program in place for our players to grow and compete at the highest level.

"Basketball Federation of India in association with NBA is doing a good job in scouting and grooming the talent at grassroots level and I am sure that basketball as a sport in India is heading towards a great future," the coach added.

Women`s coach Tamika Maria Raymond, while expressing her satisfaction with the way the team fared in the Games, said, "I love the attitude of the players, they are ready to learn."

She felt that India has got the potential and it needs to be harnessed.

"Indians are naturally athletic, it is just that they need to be guided properly and this can be done only if they watch the best of teams competing with each other.

"The Games gave them an opportunity to get exposed to the world, to witness the environment and gauge the level of play of their opponents."

Troy Justice, from the National Basketball Association, said the future of Basketball in India seems bright but insisted that nothing can be changed overnight.

"It is a long term commitment and will take about another eight to ten years to see the sport blossom."

He emphasised that infrastructure is critical for growth of any sport.

"We are having regular conversations with BFI and are pursuing them to get the proper infrastructure in place, it is a critical component," Justice said.

When asked what are they currently doing to promote the sport in India, Justice said with support from corporates such as Reliance and Mahindra, an extensive development program for youngsters and coaches was in place.

"We are coming up with the league where in around 6,000 kids at different levels will get a chance to perform at the national level besides we are also running programs for the coaches who are interested to learn more about the game."

BFI General secretary Harish Sharma said, "I won`t say I am happy with their performance but it was satisfactory."

"Our aim is to bring the team among the top four in Asia," he added.