Bhriguvanshi first Indian basketball player to sign with Australia's NBL
Former national captain Vishesh Bhriguvanshi has become the first Indian basketball player to be signed by the National Basketball League (NBL), the professional basketball league of Australia, on Thursday inking a one-year training deal with the Adelaide 36ers.
The terms of Bhriguvanshi's contract state that he will train with the Adelaide-based club, and will only be eligible to play should be he take the court as a substitute for an injured player.
Speaking to a national English daily, India's most experienced player and one of the best shooting guards in Asia acknowledged a dream almost come true.
"A league in India is what I always wanted, but we still lack in that, so this opportunity makes me feel on top of the world. The NBL is one of the world's biggest leagues after the NBA," said Vishesh. "Every player has a dream to play for a reputed league some day, and so it was my dream. Representing the nation is very different feeling, and I am definitely proud of that, but playing in a league like this has always been my dream and that is what keeps me motivated."
Vishesh, standing at 195cm, has also joined the Dream Basketball Academy in Adelaide for the 2017/18 season. This marks a significant step forward for the 25-year-old hoop star as well as Indian basketball, for it comes after a year in which Vishesh, along with fellow seniors Amjyot Singh Gill, Amritpal Singh and Yadwinder Singh helped put Indian basketball on the map.
The Indian senior men's basketball team is currently ranked 53 in the world rankings and at the FIBA Asian Challenge in Iran in 2016, put up their best performance in 27 years as they beat China, Philippines, Chinese Taipei and Kazakhstan to reach the quarter-finals. Team India then ended the year by claiming bronze medal at Hong Kong's Super Kung Sheung Cup.
While Vishesh does not know exactly when he will fly to Adelaide, his focus now is getting himself fit for India's participation in the FIBA Asia Cup to be held in Lebanon next month. During the recent
BRICS Games in Guangzhou last month, Vishesh injured his right knee during the loss to hosts China and has not played since. "I am doing rehab these days, working hard on getting my knee back to best shape. Thankfully it isn't an ACL injury. The FIBA Asia Cup is the priority," he said.
In April, Vishesh and Amjyot, Amritpal and Yadwinder had travelled to Australia on the NBL's invitation to participate in its draft combine. During last season's United Basketball Alliance of India Pro Basketball, Vishesh averaged 30.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.2 assists in 11 games for Bengaluru Beast.