They may be the defending champions, they may be from the land of National Basketball Association (NBA) and they may have brother of one of the biggest sportstars in the world, but they needed two Indian youngsters to complete their team.
Sportspower – the team from USA – could not have all their players on board, for the All India 9th Savio Cup being played here in the city, due to visa problems and had to buy the services of India players — Vinay Kaushik and Prakash Mishra.
Both Kaushik and Mishra were initially not a part of the tournament and had come to the city for the national camp. What made them don jersey of some other nation? “Come on, it is a team from the USA, They are one of the best in business,” said Kaushik.
For the youngsters, the icing on the cake is the presence of Jahaziel Howard, brother of Dwight Howard – one of the top NBA stars playing for Houston Rockets. Kaushik added, “Three to four of them are guards or shooters. We got to know them only day before yesterday.”
Sportspower coach Bill Alexson seemed content having the India players. “They are guys of good character and I am paying them good money. A few ex-NBA players like David Wood are also a part of our team but unfortunately they did not get the visa,” he said. Mishra, who plays for Railways as a point guard and forward, was elated. “It is a big achievement. Though we had only two sessions of practice before the tournament, we are pumped up,” he said. Meanwhile, Howard could not hold back his smile as the music reached a crescendo in the Don Bosco grounds.
“Though we are understaffed, we want to win. The Indians are co-operative and I am glad they agreed to help us out,” said Howard, who has played in the NBA development programme.
On his brother Dwight, he said: “It is very helpful to have someone like him in the family. When it comes to the game and if I need some advice, I just have to go from one room to another,” he added.
Results: Punjab 79 bt USA Sportspower 67