Indian Basketball

Sanjana Ramesh’s comeback story, embracing leadership and her Asian Games dreams

Kevin SomaniKevin Somani

September 18 2023
Sanjana Ramesh
(Courtesy : Hoopistani/CBS News/Republic World)

Ramesh is the second Indian cager to play in NCAA Division 1 team with full scholarship.

The Indian Basketball teams will be on a full show during the Hangzhou Asian Games as it participates in three of the four basketball categories, namely 5×5 women’s, 3×3 men’s and women’s events. Before the Indian team departs for the Asian Games, Sanjana Ramesh had an exclusive interaction with Khel Now, a day after the final squads were announced.

Sajana Ramesh is the second Indian Cager after Kavita Akula to play in the NCAA Division 1 team with a full scholarship. At 22, Sanjana is a senior member in the team and might be getting more minutes, assuming the experience she has. Having honed her skills in the United States, she is aiming to bring the elevated level of gameplay at the Asian Games.

She iterates, “I honestly wanted to bring that experience into this team. And people have been like, very reciprocate of, what I’ve learned and trying to implement and listen and try to change few things.”

Thoughts on captain Shireen Limaye

One of the key figures in Sanjana’s journey is team captain Shireen Limaye, whom she affectionately refers to as “Captain Cool.” Their seamless on-court synergy is a testament to their understanding of each other’s game. “She knows almost everything that I’ve learned new. We have a very good understanding, and I’ve always looked up to her,” Sanjana adds.

When asked about seven feet centre Poonam Chaturvedi’s presence in the team, “Playing with her is super fun, I have never played with a woman who’s 7 feet tall.” She mentioned how Poonam’s height takes a lot of load off her offensively, and she can play comfortably when the centre position player is on the court.

She says, “Anytime we drive, and we have nothing to do, we just throw it in the air, and she grabs the ball and scores.”

Sanjana further talked about how the facilities have changed drastically here as compared to the United States. The Hoopster believes facilities play a huge role in how a player develops. “They have been prioritizing player development and providing athletes with proper supplements, having a dietician and even a sports psychologist,” said Ramesh.

Comeback from injury

The experienced player suffered an ACL injury, and her game has significantly changed post-injury. She now looks at the game a bit differently, preferring to shoot more, driving more from the left and jumping off from her right foot. For her, this tournament is very important, and it means a lot to play in the Asian Games.

In her first two outings, she broke her toe, and in the second, she tore her ACL. “This is like part of my comeback story. I’m putting my everything into working towards that.”

The team has been training for two months, and this has made the team a tight-knit group which can contend for the medal. “The team is filled with a lot of young players who have like a lot of hustle, a lot of hard work, a lot of stamina.” She further states, “We are very experienced, qualified, and we see the game differently, and communicate better.”

The team acknowledges that they are grouped with reigning FIBA Asia Division A champs China, who have WNBA player Han Xu, who plays for New York Liberty.

At 22, the opportunity to assume a leadership role is rare. Yet, for individuals like Sanjana, who once sought guidance, she now embraces a senior role within the team. “It’s been surprising because I’ve always been the youngster. But this is the first time in India camp that I’m one of the seniors and the most experienced, and people are willing to listen to what I have learned in the US.”

Discussing the players to watch out for in this tournament, Sanjana thinks Vaishnavi Yadav will have a dominant outing in women’s 3×3. Yadav has gone through two ACL tears in both of her knees. “This girl is a record holder in India for scoring 71 points, and she’s my age, and is a threat on offence. For the 5×5 team, Pushpa Senthil Kumar and Shireen Limaye will be the ones to look out for, but she also hopes to perform well.

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