KARACHI: They idolize NBA players, knowing full well that reaching that level would be beyond them. Even beyond future generations of basketball players raised in Karachi.
But they keep playing and in the 16th edition of the week-long Quaid-e-Azam Gold Cup here at Aram Bagh Court there was a flurry of action with no less than 148 players from all age groups involved.
Among them were players like 16-year-old Yash Harwani and 14-year-old Mohammad Hasan Ali. For their youthful exuberance, the harsh realities of the state of basketball in the country don’t matter. At least for now.
“I’m a big fan of [four-time NBA champion] LeBron James and I want to be like him one day,” said Yash, who is touted as a future prospect for Pakistani basketball. Dawn aside from the tournament. “Playing at the highest level is possible and you just have to show the will to achieve it.”
Hasan, who caught the eye during the tournament with his three-point shot, echoes similar views.
“Stephen Curry is my favorite player and I modeled my game on his,” he said of the three-time NBA winner.
For Yash and Hasan, tournaments like the Quaid-e-Azam Gold Cup are an opportunity “to improve and learn new things”.
But are they a path to a professional basketball career?
“There are no facilities to prepare the best players,” said Kenneth Johnson, who played for Sindh at the National Games. Dawn. “It’s much easier to become a minister in Pakistan than an NBA player.”
Askari Alpha captain Shahmeer Zaheer, whose team beat Omega in the final on Saturday, agrees.
“The biggest requirement in basketball is the facilities,” he said. Dawn. “You need a proper hoop, a smooth surface to play on and they are rare to find in Pakistan.”
This somewhat resonates with Pakistan’s position in international basketball.
Pakistan remain unranked among the 213 members of world basketball body FIBA. Although he won three silver medals at the South Asian Games and a silver at the South Asian Basketball Association Championship in 2013, he did not take part in qualifying for the Asian Cup. FIBA Asia 2021, which has been postponed until next year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. .
Syed Adnan Ali played basketball for 21 years and is now a referee with the Pakistan Basketball Federation. He thinks the PBF is doing little to improve Pakistan’s position.
“Sponsors are not attracted to the sport because it is not promoted enough by the PBF,” said Adnan, who is the coach of the Nixor College basketball team. Dawn. “There is no support for those who want to play.”
As for the Karachi Basketball Association, they claim that they are doing their part in promoting the game and providing facilities to play.
“We are doing everything we can in our capacity, we don’t have funding but we have some of the modern technologies here,” said KBBA chairman Ghulam Mohammad Khan, who is also vice chairman of PBF. Dawn. “We renovated the Aram Bagh court and made it a world-class court, installed LED floodlights, baskets and a digital clock.”
He informed that Karachi will hold the PBF Inter-Provincial Tournament in March, but added that there should be more such events so that players across the country can compete against each other.
But like many other sports organizers in the country, he ultimately questioned the motivation of the players.
“Basketball is mainly played by the elite class of society for recreational purposes,” he said. “They’re not taking part in the trials because they don’t want to get out of Karachi. Then, of course, there’s not a lot of money involved in the sport, so the motivation dies.
This, however, is not true in the case of Yash or Hasan. They want to do more but the future doesn’t hold much hope.
Posted in Dawn, December 27, 2021