Amritpal Singh, who is the skipper of the national team, may become the first India-born player to play in the National Basketball League (NBL), the professional league in Oceania region involving teams from Australia and New Zealand.
Amritpal impressed the scouts and the media alike at the NBL Draft Combine in Melbourne last week. Amritpal along with three other Indian players — Amjyot Singh, Yadwinder Singh and Vishesh Bhriguvanshi — was invited by the NBL to be part of the 80-strong draft lineup.
According to a report on NBL’s official website, the 6’ 11” centre from Punjab ended the draft tied as the leading shot blocker among all the participants. His defensive presence and footwork were the talking point amongst the scouts.
“The captain of the Indian national team, Amritpal Singh, could potentially be the first Indian-born player to play in the NBL. Singh, with a large frame and giant wing-span, was one of the standout performers at last week’s NBL Combine in Melbourne, capturing the attention of a number of coaches in attendance,” the NBL report said.
“I was super impressed, it’s clear he can play. Once given the opportunity to learn off a big man’s coach here in Australia and adapt to the speed of the Australian game, I think he would do quite well,” the NBL report quoted Rohan Short, a former NBL assistant coach, as saying. Short worked closely with Amritpal throughout the two days of the draft.
Short thought Amritpal would not be a “starting five guy from the outset” but could be effective off the bench.
Damian Cotter, another coach, was also highly impressed by Amritpal’s work ethic, desire to learn and his adaptability. “He runs the floor really well and he’s a good passer and those traits alone for a big guy are going to be attractive to an NBL team. Depending on the system, I think he has the ability to contribute. His work ethic, his passion for the game and his desire to improve make him a worthwhile investment,” he said.
The NBL is an 8-team league (seven teams from Australia and one from New Zealand) that started in 1979 and is currently played between October and March.