Sportscene: Determined to make a mark

RISING STAR Karnataka’s Prashant Tomar has risen up the ranks through his sheer perseverance and hardwork. FIBA

Prashant Tomar’s big moment arrived in March this year when he was picked in the Indian under-16 team for the FIBA Asian Basketball championship in Fushan, China. 

Although the 17-year-old had previously represented India in the SABA under-16 tournament in Nepal and FIBA 3x3 under-18 Asian championship in Malaysia, the experience of playing against the bigwigs of the continental event was invaluable.

“It was awesome,” said Prashant, who was impressed with the level of competition. “The basics of the players over there were too good and so was the event.”

India, though, made a quick exit after losing all their Group D matches against Japan, Lebanon and Korea.

A student of Kendriya Vidyalaya, Hebbal, Prashant’s tryst with the sport began when he was in the second standard. And a refusal by his seniors to involve him with them egged him on to work even harder.

“In second grade, I used to watch the senior players play. I always wanted to play with them but whenever I tried, they told me to play with the kids of my age,” he recalled.

“But it was in fourth grade when I really got into the game. My ball never used to touch the ring. One day, I went (to the court) at 2’o clock in the afternoon and I started throwing (the ball). I didn’t want to leave till the ball touched the ring. It finally touched at 4. It took two hours but I was finally able to shoot.

“A year later, I knew how to dribble and play. When I was in the 6th standard, I played my first regional game,” he said.

From being a third standby in the selection trials of the under-13 mini-state camp to captaining the Karnataka team in the 41st Sub-junior National basketball championship in 2014, Prashant has taken big strides to prove his worth.

“In 8th standard, I was called for the under-13 mini-state camp for the Karnataka team. It was a month-long camp. I was the third standby. I didn’t get selected the first time. It was really a sad moment for me. After that, I practiced the whole year. The next year (2014) when I came, I was the captain of the under-13 team,” he said.

Prashant received his first call for the national team in 2017 after a solid show at the 33rd Youth National basketball championship in Hassan in 2016. Karnataka finished fourth in the competition after going down to Tamil Nadu in the 3rd/4th place match.

“In April 2017, I got a call saying I got selected for the 3x3 camp in Indore. The camp had seven people from across the country. A selection trial was held and four players got selected. I was one of the four selected to represent India in the 3x3 team. That was the first time, I got selected for the Indian team,” he said.

Though he has a long way to go, Prashant is keen on learning new aspects of the game. “I need to develop my game sense. I also need to avoid a few miss-passes,” he said.  

Young Men’s Mandyam Association (YMMA) coach Sashindar Huggi has been instrumental in developing Prashant as a player. “He is a disciplined player and has been training under me since he was in 6th standard. He’s helped us win many local tournaments,” Huggi said.

Basketball struggles for limelight in India. And with limited facilities on offer, not many choose to make it a career. But Prashant is pretty clear about his plans. “I want to continue playing basketball. I want to play for the Indian team and make it proud in the international stage. Basketball is not so popular in India but then players like Vishesh Bhriguvansi arrived and people came to know that there is a good team in Asia,” he said.

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