Mumbai: As part of its commitment to the development of the game in India, National Basketball Association (NBA) is aiming to build 100 courts across the country within the next five years and to increase the scope of the Mahindra NBA Challenge to 10 cities.
"Our ultimate aim is to make basketball the number two sport in the country (after cricket). We are seeking to do that by making a sustainable grassroots program in a minimum of 10 cities in India. We are looking to do that through school-based platforms," senior director of development for NBA India, Akash Jain said.
"We are looking for partners to build infrastructure for the same and have a goal of building a 100 basketball courts in India over the next five years," he added.
Asked whether NBA India has inked a deal with anyone for building infrastructure in the country, he said, "Not at this point. We are exploring for the right strategic partners and for locations and (also finalising) on the type of courts that we need to build."
Jain said another aim is to expand the Mahindra NBA Challenge, whose third season will tip-off from Saturday in Mumbai, to 10 cities in the next 3-4 years from the present five.
"With Mahindra we are seeking to extend the program to 10 cities in the next 3-4 years," he added.
Jain said NBA was committed to develop basket-ball in the country in the long term.
"We have a long term-commitment to develop the game in India, we are not here for short-term. We have seen an increase in participation, two players identified through the Mahindra NBA Challenge - Amritpal Singh from Ludhiana and Narender Grewal of Delhi - are now part of the Indian side," he added.
Jain said the NBA was doing its bid to help the Indian national team as well.
"We have assisted the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) in appointing national coaches. Besides, NBA staff, players and coaches have conducted many clinics for the national players," he said.
Jain said about 600 teams across different age categories from Kochi, Bangalore, Delhi, Ludhiana, and Mumbai were expected to participate in the Mahindra NBA Challenge this year.
The five-city league will feature four age divisions for both men and women - sub-junior, junior, youth and adult.
For the first time, the program will feature the Mahindra NBA Challenge National Finals.
The Winning teams from the senior (19+) and junior (16-18) divisions for both men and women in each city league will compete against each other to determine the national finals winner.