Earlier this month, the Indian national women's team competed against their Group B opponents in Malaysia in the FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament.
Playing Australia, Chinese Taipei and four-time reigning Asia Cup champions Japan over five days, India finished last in Group B and failed to advance to the Olympic Qualifying Tournament slated for early next year.
This came, just a couple of months after India, as hosts, went winless and finished last in Division A of the FIBA Asia Cup in Bengaluru. However, for a particular section of the Indian community, the Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament was historic.
Nima Doma Bhutia, a 24-year-old from the Gagyap in Sikkim, became the first from the North-Eastern region of India to represent the national team (as reported by Ekalavyas and later by Scroll).
"It was very difficult for me, but I love my dream to play for the country more than these rejections," Nima told Scroll.in before the Olympic pre-qualifiers. "I knew that if I give up I will be letting down my coach, my parents and all the basketball players from the North East, especially girls."
In the Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament, she made her debut against Japan and also played against Australia - two of the three matches India played in Malaysia. Over both games, she logged a total of 11 minutes, totaling four points and a rebound.
She was part of a special feature titled - 'Girls of Gangyap' - that was released a couple of years ago.
Nima's selection could be a sign of things to come for the basketball players from the North East.
Just a couple of months back (in September 2019), the boys team from Mizoram, another state in the North Eastern regions of India, went unbeaten on their way to being crowned the winners of the 46th Sub-Junior National Championship.