Samson Sandhu’s father is an interior decorator. Just like his dad, Sandhu too loves interiors, but of a different kind.
The 17-year-old from Carter Road, Mumbai is a basketballer who enjoys driving into the interior of rival defences. With his lazy loping strides, Sandhu constantly induces his opposition players into semi-stupor before a magical change of pace blows him by his defender for the easy shot or assist.
“I started playing basketball in seventh standard at the St Andrews School, Bandra and got my first big break in 10th standard when our Mumbai district team finished third at a State level tournament.” He has now joined the MMK College of Commerce and Economics as a first year BCom student.
Not much of a talker, Sandhu prefers to let his game speak. At 5ft 9 inches, and weighing just 60 kgs, the role of the point guard was naturally thrust upon him. “I remember Indian national coach Scott Flemming telling me that I need to start shooting more and not just keep passing all the time.”
The Mumbaiker was first rejected from the Indian u-18 team last year before storming into the junior national side that participated at the FIBA Asia Championships in Qatar earlier this year. “I realised that I didn’t make the cut previously because of my own weaknesses. So I kept working on my shooting and dribbling skills.”
An improved Sandhu was the fulcrum of his Maharashtra side that toppled eventual champs Punjab in the group stages of the 2014 Junior National Championships in Kochi back in June. Sandhu along with the rest of his Maharashtra squad literally ran circles around their taller Punjab opponents to cause the upset. “Since players from Maharashtra are not that tall, we have traditionally been very skilled when it comes to ball handling. That win over Punjab was my most memorable one for sure.”
Having represented India, the Bandra boy hopes to move abroad for more lucrative opportunities. “Basketball scout Jonathan Rego is helping me identify scholarships in US colleges.”
But can this soft spoken lad fill the gap at the point guard position that the Sr. Indian men’s team so desperately needs? “I think I can. I’m working now towards bulking up to at least 70 kgs which will help me deal with the increase in physicality at the senior level.”