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Harsh Dagar and his band of brothers take India to U18 3x3 Basketball World Cup

As India qualified for the global tournament for just the second time, their highest scorer was a 12th grade student who got into basketball quite by chance.

Harsh Dagar and his band of brothers take India to U18 3x3 Basketball World Cup

Abhijit Nair

Published: 22 Oct 2022 9:49 AM GMT

The Indian men's U17 3x3 basketball team created history last Sunday when they qualified for the upcoming 2023 FIBA U18 3x3 World Cup. The hoopsters achieved this feat with a second-place finish at the recently concluded 3x3 Asia Cup.

"We were very confident going into Asia Cup. In the absence of China and Australia – two of the best teams in the Asian regions, we thought we had a real chance of winning the Cup. But, unfortunately, we had to settle for silver," Harsh Dagar, India's top scorer in the tournament, told The Bridge.

The 17-year-old revealed that the lack of rest between games took a toll on the team in the final, where they squandered a lead in the dying moments.

"I mean we were playing very well and even had the lead. But, we could not keep up. We were tired. There was a point in the match when we took a timeout and I really sat down on the ground. We were not up to the mark physically, because just one and a half hours before we had played the semifinal against Chinese Taipei. That was a very close contest which we won at the final moment. So, yes we did not have time to recover," he added.

Dagar was just five years old when his father passed away due to typhoid. His mother has since taken over the mantle of raising him and his elder brother.

"My father passed away when I was 5. Since then it has always been my mother. She works as a tailor to make ends meet. I cannot thank her enough for being there and helping me and my brother reach the stage in our life where we are now," he revealed.

A 12th-grade student, Harsh Dagar's introduction to basketball happened by chance.

"I was a footballer back then when my school's PT teacher asked me to play a basketball match because I was tall. Since my brother used to play, I decided to give it a try. We lost that match by 1 point, and I was very angry. I had bruises on my knees, but did not have a win. Mind you, I was addicted to football then. But, that one match changed everything," he said.

Just months after this, Dagar was spotted by the NBA academy where he has been training since.

"Just 3 months after that match, I was selected in NBA trials. I have been training here in the NBA academy since 2018 and it has given me the chance to compete with the best in the country," he added.

That selection came as a blessing in disguise for the teenager as he met his U17 Asia Cup teammates – Jaideep, Lokendra and Kushal in the academy.

"Lokendra, Kushal, and I are a part of the senior India camp since 2019. Jaideep joined us in U16 camps. The four of us have basically grown up together. We are a band of brothers and to qualify for a World Cup with these four is something I did not imagine in the wildest of dreams," Dagar chuckled.

Harsh Dagar (right) with Jaideep, Kushal and Lokendra at the U17 3x3 Asia Cup

This will only be India's second appearance in a global basketball tournament after having made their debut in the inaugural U18 3x3 World Cup back in 2011.

Dagar is also quick to point out the support provided by the Basketball Federation in ensuring the quartet created history in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia during the Asia Cup.

"I would like to thank the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) and Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA program for their continued support in shaping our careers and giving us a platform to represent India on a global stage."

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