Mumbai, Feb 5 (IANS) India’s first National Basketball Association (NBA) player Satnam Singh Bhamara on Friday urged youngsters back home to follow the sport and participate in the popular United States-based competition soon.

The seven feet two inches tall, 131 kilogram Indian was picked by Dallas Mavericks in the NBA draft. He is currently playing for Texas Legends in the NBA Development League.

The 20-year-old Satnam earlier took part in training sessions with top teams like Sacramento Kings and Boston Celtics.

Satnam, who hails from a remote village in Punjab, moved to the United States in September 2010 as part of a scholarship programme between IMG Academy and Reliance and wants to help more Indians to take up basketball and play it professionally.

“It is a platform for me to show how someone from India have come through and playing in the top league in the world. I am happy to play the matches. I am looking forward to giving my best in the upcoming matches,” Satnam told Indian reporters via a conference call from Texas, on Friday.

“In India we do not have that much basketball craze but I am trying to help make a name here to help more Indian kids follow, come and play basketball.”

Satnam also made a name for himself as for the first time since 2005 that a player has entered the draft without playing in college, overseas, professionally or in the NBA Development League.

Speaking about his training, he said, “I going out for an extra workout, I mostly work on my footwork. I will try to improve on my footwork and give my best in the coming match. I know I am a bit slow but I will give my best to improve my hook shots, lose weight, stay healthy.”

In the NBA D-League game on Friday, he will face Raptors 905 team’s Sim Bhullar, who is the first player of Indian descent to play in the NBA.

Satnam is currently focusing on improving on his pace on-court as he is slow on his feet compared to other players.

“In NBA, we get big players with a big body. They are really fast. I am a bit slow on my feet but I am trying to give my best to improve that. It is a big challenge for me to improve my speed and on my feet so that I can challenge others,” he said.

“My coach said you have to challenge other teams. 300 pound with 7 feet 2 inch and run up and down and finish the game, I want to be best in that that is my challenge,” Satnam concluded.

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    The IANS was founded by Indian American publisher Gopal Raju as the India Abroad News Service. It was later renamed the Indo-Asian News Service.

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