MUMBAI: For a few years now, as the best player in the squad, Amjyot Singh Gill has shouldered most of the responsibilities for the Indian basketball team.But the 26-year-old, already literally lighter on his feet, has been refreshingly unshackled by the expectations in his first few months with Oklahoma City Blues in NBA’s G-League.
“Now I only have to concentrate on shooting, especially three-pointers,” says India’s basketball captain Amjyot, who was in the city recently.“In India, as well as Japan, I had to do everything: dribbling, shooting. Here, they let me focus on certain areas. Since I am a shooter, they make me shoot 500 shots in repetition. They are making me accurate so that at crucial times, it will help me when they ask me to go in and shoot. In India, there is a culture that they will put responsibility on your shoulders. In USA, they just say, ‘enjoy the game, take 100 shots, even if you miss 100 we don’t mind’.”
Since signing up for the developmental league outfit in October last year, the 6’8 Amjyot has featured in 27 games and scored 13 three-pointers and seven two-point goals.With international experience worth six years and having played as a professional in Japan, Amjyot is one of the most experienced players in the squad. But basketball in the US is on a whole new plane and he still has a lot of catching up to do. Upon his arrival in the US, Amjyot was promptly sent to work on his fundamentals.“I have been there just for a few months and currently I am just recovering and improving parts of the body, which were imbalanced because of playing outdoors. If I play next year, I can play more skillfully,” he explains.
“The main thing they are focusing on is my weight and nutrition. When I went there, I was 110kg. Now, I am 97kg. They want me to play as a forward, so I have to be quicker. They are making me do exercises like agility steps, quick feet. It will help me move quicker and shoot quicker.”
The speed of play, in Amjyot’s experienced mind, is the most startling aspect of the game in USA, even in the G-League.And apart from the coaches and trainers at OKC Blues, what keeps Amjyot on his toes constantly are the calls from his mother Nirmal Kaur, a former athlete.
“She watches every game online. Earlier, she used to look after my nutrition but now since she doesn’t have to do that, she gives me playing pointers. Five minutes after the game she calls me and tells me that I was not doing anything. As always, the expectations back home are higher.”