The National Basketball Association (NBA) opened its first academy in India on Tuesday, hoping the facility on the outskirts of Delhi will trigger the game’s growth in a country obsessed with cricket.
“The opening of our first academy in India is an important milestone in the NBA’s efforts to grow basketball in India and demonstrates our commitment to developing talent and shaping the game’s future here,” NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum said in a statement.
It follows the launch of academies in Hangzhou, Jinan and Urumqi in China and in Thies in Senegal.
The NBA’s plans also include launching a global academy in Canberra.
A total of 21 male players are to receive NBA-level coaching and scholarship at the academy.
The number of international players in the NBA has been increasing, with a record 113 on opening night rosters for the 2016-17 season.
The NBA has an Indian owner in Sacramento Kings Vivek Ranadive, who was born in Mumbai, but a player to galvanize a fan base has yet to arrive.
Satnam Singh Bhamara, the son of a farmer, became the first Indian to be drafted into the NBA when the Dallas Mavericks used the 52nd pick on the 7-foot-2-inch centre in 2015.