Disney World advertises itself as a place where dreams come true and it is exactly turning out to be the same for 20-odd boys and girls from India, who are taking part at the inaugural NBA Junior World Championships starting here today.
The Indians, who have come to Disney World to take part in the NBA Jr World Championship at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, were invited for a special lunch by Milwaukee Bucks star Brook Lopez at his home.
Lopez, who was in India earlier this year as part of an NBA promotional programme, was so mesmerized by the Indian hospitality that he decided to host the Indian contingent at his plush summer villa here.
And, the 13- and 14-year-old enthusiastic Indian youngsters could not have asked for more as they got a chance to meet one of their idols and his family as they gulped a variety of pizzas and other stuffs by a luxurious pool at Lopez’s Golden Oak residence.
“When I came to India to see the kids playing at the Junior NBA Academy, the people of India were so welcoming. I had the best time out there and I am planning more visits in future to experience the culture,” Lopez told PTI here.
“I really had a good time. So when I heard the Jr NBA World Championships will be held here in Orlando, my agent and I had talked about welcoming the kids here in the same was I was treated in India,” said the seven feet tall Lopez, who also has played for the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers during his 10-year NBA career.
For the young star-struck kids, it is definitely turning out to be a dream come true trip. Just to meet, have lunch with and get autographs from an NBA star was quite an experience for members of the Indian team.
“It’s really great that I’m here,” said Yatish Sakhuja, a 5-foot-7 point guard of the Indian boys’ team from Delhi.
“For us it is unbelievable to meet the NBA stars. We are here in America, that too in Disney World. We are here to play our favourite sport basketball and represent the country. It is a dream come true moment for all of us,” added Yatish.
But, making the trip to Disney was not easy for the 20-odd boys and girls as the two squads had to fight it out in Junior NBA World Championship India National Finals to secure their spot in the NBA Junior World Championship.
The Indian boys’ team is from Delhi while the girls are from Bengaluru. Indian boys’ and girls’ teams will participate in the 16-team international division, while 16 other teams will comprise the US bracket.
The Indian teams looked confident as Yatish said they are here not just to make numbers.
“We will give our best. We want to win the championship,” Yatish said.