NBA in India: Sacramento Kings, Indiana Pacers mean business in pre-season sojourn

When the Pacers and Kings came to India, there was talk on if the NBA pre-season games would be of relevance. But on Friday, they showed that they meant business.

Indiana Pacers' Domantas Sabonis (R) attempts a basket during the pre-season game against Sacramento Kings on Friday.   -  Vivek Bendre

When the cagers from Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings travelled to India, for the first time, there were speculations on whether the two NBA pre-season games would be of any relevance.

But when the two teams locked horns at the NSCI Dome on Friday evening, they showed that they meant business. With the players putting up a dazzling display, it was also an opportunity for the two coaches -- Luke Walton and Nate McMillan -- to take a stock of things, ahead of another gruelling season.

“Our preparation entering the season was to inculcate a winning culture. This is the perfect time to work on that bonding,” Indiana Pacers coach, McMillan, said after his team managed to pull off a last-minute victory against the Kings, in overtime.

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The coach also added that his players ‘did not drop their heads’ despite trailing in the first two quarters. “We came out in the third quarter, established ourselves, including the overtime when the team showed up,” he said.

McMillan also stated that a short camp before coming to India had helped the team: “A lot of things we were doing was on the fly (move). We introduced some new sets (of plays) to our guys, they did a really good job of grasping what we were trying to do.”

While it was a treat for the Indian fans, the coach was happy to see his wards ‘fly’ in pre-season. “This is a match you see in the NBA, even though it was a pre-season game. Both teams were anxious to see someone different in (team) uniform,” McMillan said.

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Though his team suffered a narrow defeat, Sacramento Kings coach Walton did not feel that they ‘lost the grip’ any time. “We did not lose the grip…” he stressed. The recently-appointed coach also admitted that such outings in the pre-season will give them a better idea about where the team stands.

Newly-appointed Sacramento Kings coach Luke Walton says he's confident of getting the team to come together before the next NBA season begins.   -  Vivek Bendre

 

Taking charge of a rather new team, it is a bit of a challenge for Walton to get the house in order, before the season begins. But the seasoned coach is confident. “We love the group that we have and even though we are a new group together, we know how to play basketball, we know how to coach basketball. It's about getting our team to come together. We are very excited about what we can do,” he said.