Amritpal Singh’s stint with the Sydney Kings could kickstart a basketball revolution in India

The 26-year-old captain of the national team is the first Indian to play basketball for a professional club in Australia.

2017 is turning out to be a landmark year for Indian basketball.

Amritpal Singh, the captain of the men’s national team, has signed with the Sydney Kings, a team in Australia’s national basketball league, the NBL. The contract will make Amritpal the first Indian to play basketball for a professional club in Australia. The 26-year-old centre, Amritpal first caught the attention of the Kings after he impressed them during the NBL Draft Combine (open tryouts) in April.

The news has naturally come as a shot in the arm to Indian basketball. “I’m just very happy for Amritpal,” says Himamshu Dabir, a basketball consultant with the Basketball Federation of India and other organisations. “He’s done a lot for Indian basketball. Out of the main three players on the national team – Amjyot, Vishesh and him – he gets less fanfare. But he is a great player and even better person.”

Scouting the right talent

It all started with an Australian coach named Damian Cotter who was brought in to conduct a three-day camp to assess the talent in the Indian national men’s team. Cotter helped bridge the gap his Australian counterparts had in understanding the levels in India.

“Cotter felt our top three players – Amjyot, Vishesh and Amritpal – had a shot at the NBL,” said Vishnu Ravi Shankar, Amritpal’s manager and founder of Pursuit India, a sports talent management company that arranged Cotter’s visit. “He was especially confident about Amritpal. He felt he could compete in the NBL, if not dominate in Australia’s second division. This gave us the confidence to reach out the NBL and request them to include these three players and forward Yadwinder Singh in the tryouts.”

Pursuit India was started with the objective to find and create the right kind of international opportunities for Indian basketball players. “We knew our top Indian players had the talent to succeed in international professional leagues. Cotter’s trip helped confirm our opinion.”

At the tryouts, Amritpal impressed scouts with his efforts, both at the offensive and defensive end of the floor. His ability to snag rebounds by finding the right spot, instead of simply towering over everyone, impressed the Sydney Kings. The Kings who had just two top-20 rebounders last season, were looking to solidify their presence near the basket and saw in Amritpal, the potential to play backup to University of Kentucky star Isaac Humphries at the centre position.

‘An all-round great kid’

The Kings called him to a rookie camp in June and eventually decided to give Amritpal a longer run. He was an instrumental part of the Kings’ roster at the Atlas Challenge tournament in China, where the seven footer almost averaged a double-double and helped his team topple Lithuania in the championship game, scoring 17 points and pulling down 16 rebounds.

“They were also impressed by his personality off the court as well,” says Shankar. “He is down-to-earth, willing to learn, and put in the work. Just an all-round great kid. This helped boost his chances with the Kings.”

After the tournament in China, the Kings wasted no time in drawing up the contract and making the signing of Amritpal official.

Amritpal vs Satnam Singh

Amritpal first shot into national conscience when he, along with fellow international teammate Amjyot Singh, secured a professional contract to play in Japan’s National Basketball Development League. The Indian cagers first got a chance to earn their stripes on a summer league roster in the offseason. Impressed by their performance, the reigning champions, Tokyo Excellence, handed them professional contracts for the 2015-‘16 season. The “twin towers” showed their gratitude by leading the team to the title, and in the bargain became local heroes to the passionate fan base the team commanded.

Whether they like it or not, every achievement by an Indian basketball player will be measured against Satnam Singh’s. The 21-year-old created history when he became the first Indian to be drafted by an NBA team – the Dallas Mavericks – in 2015. He was then sent to the Mavericks’ D-League team in the hopes that he would eventually develop into an NBA level player.

But while he continues to put in the work, not only has he struggled to remain on the court in the D-League (now named the G-League), but he has yet to see the court in a meaningful regular season NBA game.

“For me personally, [Amritpal’s signing] is more important,” says Dabir. “Amritpal has a chance to play and make an impact on the team. What Satnam did was huge for basketball, but it was understood that he would take time to develop. Also, the NBA is notorious for being impatient with young talent. Amritpal has played at similar levels in Asia, and we know he has the ability to compete at this level, even if it is off the bench.”


Amritpal had to contend for minutes against Satnam Singh in the recently concluded FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon. Coach Phil Weber, however, decided to go with speed, agility and leadership over star power. “Satnam gained a lot of weight since he got into the camp,” said Weber in an interview with The Field, “His speed is an issue...he has to be able to get up and down the court.” Those vital minutes at the centre position went to Amritpal, who made the best of the opportunity finishing with per game averages of 11.0 points and a team leading 8.7 rebounds.

Amritpal could be the trailblazer

Basketball players usually peak between the ages of 24-30. That also accounts for them starting at an early age, usually between 8-12. Considering he started playing basketball relatively late at the age of 19, it can be argued that Amritpal is just entering the peak of his career, making the timing of the Kings’ contract near perfect. Since his stint in the Japanese league, Amritpal’s body and mind have seen significant improvement, preparing him for the NBL challenge ahead.

“It’s going to be very different from the Japanese league stint,” says Shankar. “The quality of basketball is much higher. Starting with the coaching staff. The Kings’ coach Andrew Gaze is an NBL Champion, MVP, and the NBL All-Time scoring and assists leader. He is also an NBA Champion with the 2000 San Antonio Spurs and has served as assistant coach at the NBA Summer League. Getting to learn from someone like Gaze is incredible.”

Amritpal will also be up against some stiff competition. Australia, recently crowned FIBA Asia Champions, are among the best basketball playing countries, finishing fourth at the 2016 Rio Olympics. This makes the Australian league a hotbed of talent; loaded with players who have experience playing at the best European leagues and in the NBA. The exposure he will get is tremendous.

Has Indian basketball reached a tipping point?

Over the past two years, Indian basketball has been marred with the commotion created by two warring factions claiming administrative authority over Indian basketball. All that changed in July when the FIBA recognised faction led by K Govindraj, receive both an affiliation with the Indian Olympic Association and recognition from the Sports Ministry. The endorsements are a welcome relief for Govindraj and his team who, against all the odds, landed India two prestigious FIBA tournaments this year: the FIBA Asia Women’s Cup held in July, and the FIBA Under-16 Women’s Asia Championship, both hosted in the newly renovated Sree Kanteerva Stadium in Bangalore.

With the squabble laid to rest, global tournaments held in our backyard and the slow and steady rise of Indian players globally, there is a sense that basketball in India is at a tipping point.

“It [Amritpal’s contract] will have big implications,” says Dabir. “There’s a huge Indian market in Australia, and with the new rules in NBL where there is a designated spot on rosters for an Asian import, this will open up the market for other players now and in the future. Additionally, he’ll help change the narratives of the Indian basketball players in Australia, so even the clubs and institutions focused on the grassroots development and outs training will start to consider India as a viable market for talent seriously.”

Shankar agrees “It’s going to be a path breaker. This has the potential to change the perception of international teams, coaches, scouts and agents have about Indian basketball. Initially, when we reached out with cold calls and cold emails, we got very few replies. With Amritpal’s contract, we expect that to change.”


Time will tell if Amritpal will make a big enough impact to go the pressures that come with carrying the reputation of a billion people on your shoulders. Everything he has done thus far – from the stint in Japan, to leading Team India, to securing an NBL contract – indicates that he is on the brink of even greater things. All we can hope for is that his achievements do not get lost at the cost of more popular sports and that his story becomes an inspiration to the generation coming right behind him.

“All these years, parents dissuaded kids from pursuing non-cricket sports like basketball,” says Shankar. “These were not viable career options. Now, here comes a guy with a humble background from a small village, making more than the average Australian does in a year. That’s good money to play basketball. Kids and parents will look at his story and wonder how could someone who started playing at 19 find this kind of a contract.”

Shankar wraps it up by reminding us that this is just the start. “Amritpal has opened up possibilities. He has blazed a trail. It is up to us to follow that path and create more such stories.”

Here is hoping we do.

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Top picks, best deals and all that you need to know for the Amazon Great Indian Festival

We’ve done the hard work so you can get right to what you want amongst the 40,000+ offers across 4 days.

The Great Indian Festival (21st-24th September) by Amazon is back and it’s more tempting than ever. This edition will cater to everyone, with offers on a range of products from electronics, home appliances, apparel for men and women, personal care, toys, pet products, gourmet foods, gardening accessories and more. With such overwhelming choice of products and a dozen types of offers, it’s not the easiest to find the best deals in time to buy before your find gets sold out. You need a strategy to make sure you avail the best deals. Here’s your guide on how to make the most out of the Great Indian Festival:

Make use of the Amazon trio – Amazon Prime, Amazon Pay and Amazon app

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Load your Amazon pay wallet; there’s assured 10% cashback (up to Rs 500). Amazon will also offer incremental cashbacks over and above bank cashbacks on select brands as a part of its Amazon Pay Offers. Shopping from the app would bring to you a whole world of benefits not available to non-app shoppers. App-only deals include flat Rs 1,250 off on hotels on shopping for more than Rs 500, and flat Rs 1,000 off on flights on a roundtrip booking of Rs 5,000 booking from Yatra. Ten lucky shoppers can also win one year of free travel worth Rs 1.5 lakhs.

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The Great Indian Sale has a wide range of products, offers, flash sales and lightning deals. To make sure you don’t miss out on the best deals, or lose your mind, plan first. Make a list of things you really need or have been putting off buying. If you plan to buy electronics or appliances, do your research on the specs and shortlist the models or features you prefer. Even better, add them to your wishlist so you’re better able to track your preferred products.

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Big discounts and top picks

The Great Indian Festival is especially a bonanza for those looking to buy electronics and home appliances. Consumers can enjoy a minimum of 25% off on washing machines, 20% off on refrigerators and 20% off on microwaves, besides deals on other appliances. Expect up to 40% off on TVs, along with No-Cost EMI and up to Rs 20,000 off on exchange.

Home Appliances

Our top picks for washing machines are Haier 5.8 Kg Fully Automatic Top Loading at 32% off, and Bosch Fully Automatic Front Loading 6 Kg and 7 Kg, both available at 27% discount. Morphy Richards 20 L Microwave Oven will be available at a discount of 38%.

Our favorite pick on refrigerators is the large-sized Samsung 545 L at 26% off so you can save Rs 22,710.

There are big savings to be made on UV water purifiers as well (up to 35% off), while several 5-star ACs from big brands will be available at greater than 30% discount. Our top pick is the Carrier 1.5 Ton 5-star split AC at 32% off.

Personal Electronics

There’s good news for Apple fans. The Apple MacBook Air 13.3-inch Laptop 2017 will be available at Rs 55,990, while the iPad will be available at 20% off. Laptops from Lenovo, Dell and HP will be available in the discount range of 20% to 26%. Top deals are Lenovo Tab3 and Yoga Tab at 41% to 38% off. Apple fans wishing to upgrade to the latest in wearable technology can enjoy Rs 8,000 off on the Apple Watch series 2 smartwatch.

If you’re looking for mobile phones, our top deal pick is the LG V20 at Rs 24,999, more than Rs 5000 off from its pre-sale price.

Power banks always come in handy. Check out the Lenovo 13000 mAh power bank at 30% off.

Home printers are a good investment for frequent flyers and those with kids at home. The discounted prices of home printers at the festival means you will never worry about boarding passes and ID documents again. The HP Deskjet basic printer will be available for Rs 1,579 at 40% off and multi-function (printer/ scanner/ Wi-Fi enabled) printers from HP Deskjet and Canon will also available at 33% off.

The sale is a great time to buy Amazon’s native products. Kindle E-readers and Fire TV Stick will be on sale with offers worth Rs 5,000 and Rs 1,000 respectively.

The Amazon Fire Stick
The Amazon Fire Stick

For those of you who have a bottomless collection of movies, music and photos, there is up to 60% off on hard drives and other storage devices. Our top picks are Rs 15,000 and Rs 12,000 off on Seagate Slim 5TB and 4TB hard drives respectively, available from 8.00am to 4.00pm on 21st September.

The sale will see great discounts of up to 60% off on headphones and speakers from the top brands. The 40% off on Bose QC 25 Headphones is our favourite. Top deals are on Logitech speakers with Logitech Z506 Surround Sound 5.1 multimedia Speakers at 60% off and Logitech X300 Bluetooth Speaker at 58% off!

Other noteworthy deals

Cameras (up to 55% off) and camera accessories such as tripods, flash lights etc. are available at a good discount. Home surveillance cameras too will be cheaper. These include bullet cameras, dome cameras, simulated cameras, spy cameras and trail and game cameras.

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Interesting finds

While Amazon is extremely convenient for need-based shopping and daily essentials, it is also full of hidden treasures. During the festival, you can find deals on telescopes, polaroid cameras, smoothie makers, gym equipment, gaming consoles and more. So you’ll be able to allow yourself some indulgences!

Small shopping

If you have children, the festival is good time to stock up on gifts for Diwali, Christmas, return gifts etc. On offer are gaming gadgets such as Xbox, dough sets, Touching Tom Cat, Barbies, classic board games such as Life and more. There are also some products that you don’t really need, but kind of do too, such as smartphone and tablet holders, magnetic car mounts for smartphones and mobile charging station wall stands. If you’re looking for enhanced functionality in daily life, do take a look at the Amazon Basics page. On it you’ll find USB cables, kitchen shears, HDMI cables, notebooks, travel cases and other useful things you don’t realise you need.

Check-out process and payment options

Amazon is also offering an entire ecosystem to make shopping more convenient and hassle-free. For the festival duration, Amazon is offering No-Cost EMIs (zero interest EMIs) on consumer durables, appliances and smartphones, plus exchange schemes and easy installation services in 65 cities. HDFC card holders can avail additional 10% cashback on HDFC credit and debit cards. Customers will also get to “Buy Now and Pay in 2018” with HDFC Credit Cards, as the bank offers a 3 Month EMI Holiday during the days of the sale. Use Amazon Pay balance for fast and easy checkouts, quicker refunds and a secured shopping experience.

Sales are fun and with The Great Indian Festival offering big deals on big brands, it definitely calls for at least window shopping. There’s so much more than the above categories, like minimum 50% off on American Tourister luggage! To start the treasure hunt, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of and not by the Scroll editorial team.