‘Hope to see In­dia reach the pin­na­cle’

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Sport -

Mum­bai: They came, they cheered their lungs out, they left spell­bound.

There were 3000 of them. All chil­dren from the Re­liance Foun­da­tion Jr NBA Schools pro­gramme. “We were the first au­di­ence to wit­ness two NBA teams play a game in In­dia for the first time,” they are sure to be brag­ging to their friends for some time.

Sacra­mento Kings tak­ing on the In­di­ana Pac­ers, in what was an of­fi­cial pre-sea­son game here at NSCI on Fri­day, rep­re­sented not just a thrilling mo­ment for these boys and girls, all stu­dents of schools in Mum­bai, but one lady in par­tic­u­lar — Nita Am­bani.

The founder and chair­per­son of Re­liance Foun­da­tion, flanked by NBA com­mis­sioner Adam Sil­ver, In­di­ana Pac­ers cen­tre Myles Turner and Sacra­mento Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox, got the party started, hand­ing over the match ball to the NBA of­fi­cials.

“Its my dream to see In­dia be­come a truly multi-sport na­tion. Re­liance Foun­da­tion is ex­cited to present the first ever NBA game in In­dia and share our joy of cel­e­bra­tion of six years of NBA part­ner­ship with these won­der­ful and bud­ding bas­ket­ballers from our Ju­nior NBA pro­gram. I hope to see In­dia on the global sports pin­na­cle,” Am­bani said. It was then time for the play­ers to do their bit as the Am­bani fam­ily sat back and en­joyed the show.

Ahead of Fri­day’s epic en­counter that crept into over­time, much to the de­light of the scream­ing young au­di­ence, most of whom would have re­tired to bed with sore voices and legs, Sil­ver made it a point to men­tion the role of Am­bani’s foun­da­tion in his press con­fer­ence.

In­cred­i­ble reach

“I want to par­tic­u­larly thank Nita Am­bani and the Re­liance Foun­da­tion for be­ing the pre­sen­ter of these games and par­tic­u­larly tonight’s game which is de­voted to the kids of Mum­bai, the young boys and girls who play the game of bas­ket­ball, who have been part of our Jr. NBA prog ramme which has now reached an in­cred­i­ble 10 mil­lion kids in In­dia,” said Sil­ver.

The en­ergy that flowed through the NSCI dome cont ributed to t he dra­matic clash ac­cord­ing to Pac­ers coach Nate McMil­lan. “It was good en­ergy out there. The kids were loud, kids are loud any­way, but they were good, they were into the game,” said McMil­lan.

“Iwasn’t sure if they were go­ing to be pulling for the Pac­ers or the Kings. It was some­what of a mixed crowd, but good en­ergy and the guys fed off that.”

No. 1 No­vak Djokovic on Fri­day on stun­ning show of supremacy the Ja­pan Open with

1, 2 win over Lu­cas Pouille of France. In the semi­fi­nals, Djokovic will face 2017 Ja­pan Open cham­pion David Gof­fin of Bel­gium, who eas­ily beat Chung Hyeon of

Ko­rea 2, 2.

Aryan, Nikki in fi­nal

Aryan Goveas

com­fort­able straight set to en­ter the sin­gles fi­nal of the Fen­esta Open on Fri­day. Aryan will take on top seed Nikki Poonacha. In the women's sin­gles fi­nal, nya Bavisetti will take on Pre­rna Bham­bri.

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