"Kevin Durant": Rajan Sharma, of the Ahmedabad Wingers in the 3x3BL, on who his favourite NBA player is & more
For the second time in three rounds, Rajan Sharma and the Ahmedabad Wingers have finished as the runners-up in the 3X3 Pro Basketball League (3BL), India's first ever FIBA recognized pro basketball league. Both times, the Ahmedabad franchise has lost to the Inderbir Singh Gill and the Delhi Hoopers in the championship fixture.
In Round 2, when they weren't part of the Championship fixture, Rajan and the Ahmedabad Wingers were eliminated in the semifinals. After three rounds - Delhi, Aizwal and Kolkata - the Wingers are placed second in the overall standings with 243 points, 59 behind the first placed seeded Delhi Hoopers.
During Round 3 of Season 1 in Kolkata on 7th July, Rajan took some time before his games to speak exclusively to Sportskeeda. Here's the interview:
Q: Through your eyes, could you tell us the entire experience of the 3X3BL through Round 1, 2 and maybe even the tryouts?
Rajan Sharma: It's really a unique experience. A completely different format from 5-on-5 and we are really enjoying it.
Q: You guys [Ahmedabad Winger] were the runners-up in Round 1 and semi-finalists in Round 2. Do you feel you guys carry the most momentum heading into these Round 3 fixtures in Kolkata other than Delhi Hoopers or you believe this is a different round altogether?
RS: No, no. We do. Actually, we are getting a new addition to our team - Leandro Souza De Lima - who is from Brazil and we will get Delhi and Round 3 this time.
Q: This round is critical because the highest ranked team gets to go to Japan for the FIBA 3X3 World Tour Masters, right?
RS: Yes, exactly. That's what I'm saying. We are currently the second-ranked team and if we were to win Round 3, then we will be closer to the Delhi Hoopers.
Q: Through two rounds, you have pretty much played every team. Which one do you think is the most competitive - is it Delhi?
RS: Delhi. It's only Delhi. No other team than Delhi.
Q: You think the additional player from Brazil is key to you winning Round 3?
RS: No, I don't think so because our team is really good. He will help us but our sync in communication is quite good right now and we believe we can carry the team by ourselves as well.
Q: As a player, do you practice something different for a 3x3 game?
RS: Yes. I watch videos on Youtube of the No. 1 ranked team from Serbia as to what they do, how they practice and how they improve their 3x3 game. So I follow them and I tell my team to practice these moves.
Q: As a player, what do you feel is the biggest difference and challenge between 3x3 and 5-on-5?
RS: The biggest challenge is stamina and being really fit. It's a completely different sport from 5-on-5. We get timeouts but it's really fast and it really tests your skills.
Q: From a normal fan's perspective, I think the biggest difference is how quickly offense changes to defense. What's your take on that?
RS: Yes, absolutely. The shot clock is 12 seconds in this format.
Q: To round off the interview, I just wanted to know your favourite NBA player and favourite NBA team?
RS: Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors, the current reigning 2-time NBA Finals MVP.