Jeena, Shireen keen to catch Hawks’ eye

P. S. Jeena will hope to catch the Australian club Ringwood Hawks' attention when the team plays a five-match basketball series against national champion — Kerala All Stars.

Indian basketball stars, Kerala's P.S. Jeena (left) and Maharashtra's Shireen Limaye in Kochi.   -  Stan Rayan

It’s been nearly eight years since Geethu Anna Jose played for Australia’s Ringwood Hawks. Nobody from the country has played for a notable foreign club after her.

Now, with the Ringwood Hawks landing in Kochi on Saturday for a five-match basketball series against national champion, Kerala All Stars, girls like Kerala’s P. S. Jeena and Maharashtra’s Shireen Limaye are quite excited.

“After Geethu, nobody has got a chance to go abroad. We hope this will open the doors to a foreign club, be an opportunity to get there,” Jeena told Sportstar at the Rajiv Gandhi indoor stadium here on Friday evening.

“I’ve been looking for leagues to happen abroad for a long time but I’ve not got a chance,” said Shireen, who, like Jeena, played for India played in the Asia Cup 3-on-3 in Mongolia last week.

“Once we play the Hawks, we will know whether we are good enough to play abroad. If any of us gets a chance, it will be really good,” said Shireen, who helped India to the Asia Cup’s second division title with a last-gasp basket in Bengaluru in July.

MYSTERY FACTOR

But the Indians haven't encountered the Hawks before.

“Only after the first game (in Kochi on Sunday evening), we will know how they play,” said the 23-year-old Jeena, one of Asia’s best players.

“From what we have seen, they have height advantage… there are two or three players, who are between 6’2 and 6’4. Our tallest player is probably 5’10. They are faster and physically stronger. But this experience will do us a lot of good.”

CHANCE FOR JEENA

Geethu, who last played for the Hawks in 2008 and who had the WNBA tryouts in 2011, has been updating the Australian team’s coach Tim Mottin about the Indians, especially about Jeena.

“Nobody played for a foreign club after me because we did not have the right mix of talent and height, if a player was talented, she did not have the height. Now, I think Jeena has the qualities,” said Geethu, probably India’s best woman basketballer ever.

“She has the stuff and if she goes and gets experience, that would be a good break for her. I told Tim about Jeena, if she plays well and makes a mark in this series, the Hawks might take her.”