It was a welcome sight when some of the familiar names of Indian basketball took part in the try-outs conducted by the organisers of Elite Pro 5×5 League (EPBL), said to be the biggest of its kind in the country, at the Kotla Vijaya Bhaskara Reddy Indoor Stadium here on Friday.
About 250 players attended the two-day try-outs, essentially organised to select about 150 players for the 12 franchises of the EPBL to be held in October.
Sunny Bhandarkar, CEO, EPBL Pvt. Ltd. told The Hindu that the whole objective of the league was to provide a platform for the best talent across different age groups and categories, from the young to the experienced players, in the Indian circuit.
“Once selected for the franchisee, each player will be paid a salary of Rs 3 lakh per season. We hope this league will do to basketball what IPL is doing to cricket,” he said.
Importantly, a selection panel comprising Ram Kumar Gahlawat, former international and coach of the Indian junior team, Jagat Narayan Nehra, coach, Sports Authority of India and H. Parameshwar, former SAI coach, were taking down notes on the performances of the players to select the best from the lot.
The 12 teams in the EPBL are Mumbai Stars, Pune Pythons, Jaipur Giants, Kochi Packers, Chandigarh Conquerors, Hyderabad Hoops, Lucknow Swarm, Chennai Turbos, Punjab Gladiators, Ahmedabad Aces, Delhi Dominators and Bengaluru Stallions.
Asked if the league has the backing of Basketball Federation of India, Bhandarkar said they had oral discussions and also written to the federation and are awaiting the response. “We are optimistic since we are not here to be a rival body, but only to promote the sport.”
However, a senior BFI official said they had neither been approached nor permission was sought.
Apparently, the players could be staring at an uncertain future if the BFI says no to the league.