Nepali basketball prodigies aim to lift the scene

Rinchhen Moktan and Bina Mani Younjan

Rinchhen Moktan and Bina Mani Younjan, aged 18 and 17 respectively, are emerging talents in the Nepali basketball scene.

With many calling them the future of Nepali basketball, the two are excelling in different formats of the game. Moktan was part of Nepal’s women’s basketball team that took part in the Asian Games in China while Younjan made her full-court debut during the 2023 SABA Women’s Basketball Championship.

Recently, the two helped Budhanilkantha Basketball Club win the U19 Women National Basketball Championship organized by the National Basketball Association with Moktan even earning the coveted title of most valuable player (MVP).

“I was so happy to be part of the winning team and be dubbed the MVP in the U19 championship that was held after ages, ” says Moktan.

Now, the two hope that more tournaments are held in the country so they can raise their game as they hope to prepare well for international tournaments. They believe that this aspect is currently lacking in their preparation and is essential for them to compete with other countries on the global stage.

“We both played internationally for Nepal and found the domestic matches easy. The more we play the better we will get as players and for that, matches are crucial,” says Moktan.

Moktan primarily plays as the point guard. This is considered one of the most important positions in the sport as a point guard acts as a floor general. Understanding that she has been learning and trying to improve as she hopes to play many games for Nepal.

“I also play as a shooting guard but I love playing the point,” she says.

The two have played a match each for the national women’s team, albeit in different formats. Having debuted in their teens, they are eager to make the most of these opportunities and contribute to the team.

Building chemistry in the domestic scene

Rinchhen Moktan and Bina Mani Younjan
Rinchhen Moktan and Bina Mani Younjan

Both Moktan and Younjan are teammates in the domestic scene, initially playing for the Nepal Police Club. They have been consistently playing together on various teams.

Their basketball journey began in school, with Younjan starting hers at Rupy’s International School, where she was introduced to the sport by Mabindra Chhetri, a member of the national men’s team.

Younjan was not comfortable when she started but with time and thanks to her teammates, she started to learn the game and get better.

“I picked it up quite quickly. This is thanks to the senior members of my team,” she says.

Upon completing her Secondary Education Examination (SEE), Younjan joined Premier College and joined its basketball team. Currently, in the 12th grade, she and her team have won a tournament that featured both home and away formats.

However, Moktan’s road is different as she lived and breathed the sport since her early teens. Her love for basketball started when she was in grade 8. Her passion for basketball led her to join Trungram International Academy, where basketball was a major extra-curricular activity.

“I went to TIA for basketball. Then I heard that Anusha Malla and Shreya Khadka also play for TIA. There was a good environment for basketball,” Moktan says.  

Currently, Moktan, Younjan, Malla, and Khadka are teammates. Moktan played in the 3×3 basketball during the Asian Games under Khadka’s captaincy.

Since Moktan and Younjan have been playing together, the two have developed a chemistry. As Moktan runs the point, Younjan plays as a forward. They know when to cut in and when to hold back as the duo has been causing their opponents some major troubles.

“We have played together for various clubs, so there is proper coordination among us,” says Moktan. 

No I in ‘TEAM’

They understand how basketball is a team game and that they need to have each other’s back. Their bond is such that they try to cover for each other’s mistakes as well.

Both feel that the sport has changed the way they see life. It has improved their personal growth and even changed their lifestyle to some extent.

“It’s given us confidence and helped us build our character,” says Moktan.

As the game has given them a name, they hope they can work together in creating history for the country. The only way to do that is by winning medals.

“We dream big,” says Moktan.

Younjan believes if they can do that, they will be able to take Nepali women’s basketball to new heights.

Coach of national women’s basketball Bikash Shahi says it is possible too as he sees great potential in Moktan and Younjan.  

“They have what it takes to uplift the Nepali women’s basketball scene,” says Shahi.  

Moktan, who has played in 3×3 basketball, now wants to transition to full-court basketball for Nepal. However, both express concern about the irregularity of games, highlighting that consistent gameplay is essential for their development.

“We do not participate to lose. Although we can’t win, in every international match we learn something new,” says Younjan. “But for us to compete even harder, we need to play more games.”

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Nepal is a sports correspondent for Onlinekhabar.

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