Indian cagers need to be professional: Coach Bucan

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Mumbai, Nov 30 (UNI) India's new basketball coach Aleksandar Bucan of Serbia believes that the talent in the country is vast but the cagers need to be part of a system that is totally professional.

''This is crucial if the Indian basketball has to progress. You cannot mix tradition in the game. It makes it difficult not only for the players, but for the coaches as well,'' he said, before going on to explain.

''Look, if the players have to focus on their favourite sport, I'm afraid, they will have to give up, for example, their Diwali and Christmas celebrations, weddings in the family, and other occassions. Your players take breaks from camps on these occasions and by the time they return the focus is gone,'' revealed Mr Bucan, who is in Mumbai to conduct a clinic for players during the 3rd All India United Phosphorous Savio Cup Basketball tournament being held here.

''If the President of Serbia attends a match, he does not hog all the attention. Maybe he waves to the crowd and acknowledges their cheers for three seconds. But he quickly respects the players by taking his seat without too much pampering,'' he added ''Here, in India, I notice, it's the other way around. The chief guest is given too much importance. He is introduced to the players who are in the midst of a crucial match! I can't believe this. The players, who are eager to get into the action as quickly as possible, are forced to focus on the guest when their mind should rather be on the game,'' he explained.

In a bid to boost the profile of basketball in the country, the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) appointed Bucan as the National coach, initially on a six-month contract which ends in 10 days.

During that brief period, Bucan coached the Indian junior and senior teams while on deputation from FIBA, basketball's international governing body.

Bucan, who coached the Indian boys' and girls' under-18 teams in preparation for the junior Asian Basketball Confederation (ABC) championships to be held next year, would like to renew his contract for a 30-month period, as he explains it will give him time to achieve significant results.

''We would like to have him not only for a short period but as a permanent coach,'' revealed BFI associate secretary M Venkatesh.

''The Government of India and the BFI are working towards renewing Bucan's contract on a long-term basis. That will be known soon, while he is on vacation after his six-month stint with the Indian teams.'' ''We need intelligent players and, let me emphasise, explosive power is not mandatory. Height too is not important, except for certain key positions. Players with average height too can excel, like Shambhaji Kadam of Services,'' said Bucan.

Pointing out to the attitude of players Bucan cited another example. ''I was very surprised to see that the Karnataka players were not upset when they lost 77-76 to ONGC in the Savio Cup on Thursday. It seems they were not bothered. I didn't see any player getting angry.'' ''Basketball is the second most popular sport after football. So that should be reason, and I have hope, for it to become popular in India,'' he said.

UNI

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