basketball

Frustrated with lack of game time, Satnam Singh leaves NBA to return to Indian basketball circuit

The 21-year-old has been struggling to become a regular player for the Texas Legends in the United States.

Indian basketball player Satnam Singh said on Tuesday that he is returning to the country to ply his trade after two years in the United States’ National Basketball Association circuit.

Singh had become the first Indian to feature in an NBA draft when he was picked by Dallas Mavericks in 2015. He played for Texas Legends, an affiliate of the Mavericks, in the NBA G League.

However, he struggled to get game time in the United States. Singh was grateful for the experience of playing in the NBA but is now back in India to “better my game”.

Addressing the media on the sidelines of an event organised by General Nutrition Centre in Mumbai on Tuesday, he said, “Wherever I have reached, including the NBA, the experience has been good. However, I didn’t get that many chances in the NBA. Now I am back in India and will play for the country and Punjab team.”

More game time

Singh is now looking to rediscover his lost flair for the game by playing for Punjab. The 21-year-old is looking to play as much as possible now given that he featured in only nine games for the Texas Legends. He averaged just 1.7 points and 1.5 rebounds while playing just 7.9 minutes per game in the 2015-’16 season, according to this report.

Singh recently played a game for Punjab and was thrilled to be on the court for more than half an hour. “After almost three years I played for almost 30 to 35 minutes,” he said. “I felt so good and I literally surprised myself. It was a bit difficult but I pulled through.”

The 2.18-metre-tall player said that he focused on his fitness back in Texas and is thankful for the experience his NBA journey has taught him. “I played with upcoming stars, which help me grow,” he said. “Matt Robinson for example was one such player.”

Hoping to get noticed

Singh is confident he has the caliber and skillset to light up the Indian circuit. Given his time with the Dallas Mavericks and Texas Legends, he is ready to improve his game with the help of the Indian and Punjab team, he said.

But given the drastic drop in quality of opposition and teammates, is such a move advisable? “If I play here, I will get more game time and my game will improve,” he said. “I just want to play and work on my skills and moves. If I want to improve my game, I will need somebody who I can work with. I don’t care whether the player is an international star or a college player, I just need somebody to play ball with.”

Singh plans to showcase his talent and also record his own games so that he can send them to scouting agents and team owners. “In the NBA, hardly anyone saw me play. Now I will play for the Indian team because wherever the Indian team goes, scouts and team owners come to check out players. Plus, the game comes on television as well. I will record my game and send it to people as well. People will notice me.”

Playing in Australia, Taiwan?

With Sim Bhullar playing for Dacin Tigers in the Taiwanese Super Basketball League and Amritpal Singh featuring for Sydney Kings in the National Basketball League in Australia, is Singh also looking to join other leagues abroad? “Whenever the opportunity comes I will bag it,” he said. “As long as India players go abroad and play, only then we will become better. Only time can tell where I will end up playing.”

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