ONGC's Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, who is also currently the Indian national team captain poses with MNIT student volunteers after his team's win.

ONGC’s Vishesh Bhriguvanshi (centre), who is also currently the Indian national team captain poses with MNIT student volunteers after his team’s win.

Jaipur, 13/4/14: ONGC men and Southern Railway women have successfully defended their titles at the 17th All India Advani Memorial Basketball Tournament (AIAMBT) that concluded a few hours ago at the Malviya National  Institute of Technology (MNIT) campus in Jaipur, Rajasthan. Both Southern and ONGC led almost from start to finish to assert their dominance at the national level in India.

The first final of the evening between Southern Railway Chennai and South East Central Railway Bilaspur saw SECR being aggressive in the initial few minutes through some fast breaks and outside shooting by Seema Singh and Anju Lakra. Southern though would answer right back mainly through shooting guard Adhirai who kept connecting repeatedly from three point territory. Southern Railway’s simple strategy over the last decade has been to revolve their offense around international superstar centre Geethu Anna Jose. Against domestic opposition, Geethu is unguardable on a one to one basis.

In today’s final, SECR were perhaps too respectful of Geethu’s pedigree and kept double teaming her, which freed up Southern’s remaining players. As bad luck would have it for SECR, Adhirai couldnt miss from long distance and shot as many as six three pointers to seal the match comfortably in Southern’s favour. Adhirai was rightly awarded the Most Valuable Player of the finals. Her teammate and captain Kokila Subramani was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament. (Relive match play by play here)

The men’s final proceeded exactly along scripted lines, however much we’d like to dramatize it. ONGC had already beaten IAF earlier in the league stages. Going by past head to head matches between the two teams, a clear pattern emerges: an undersized IAF relies heavily on the play of its two internationals— the outside shooting of point guard Joginder Singh and the individual isolation play and fastbreaking ability of shooting guard Narender— to keep them in contention. However, by the end of the third quarter, a much more balanced, stronger and skilled ONGC attack keeps building its lead till the final buzzer. This is exactly what happened tonight as well. From positions 1 to 5, all of ONGC past and present internationals contributed in the win. Trideep Rai was money from long range, Vishesh was unstoppable in his imperious drives to the basket, small forward Yadwinder Singh continued to be a pest on the defensive end and forward Murali Krishna and Amrit Pal Singh dictated proceedings in the paint. (Relive match play by play here)

The winning teams, Southern Railway women and ONGC men, were awarded cash prizes of Rs 1,00,000/- each and the runners up, SECR Bilaspur women and IAF men, got Rs 50,000/-. The trophies, cash prizes and individual medals were distributed by Chief Guest Chanda Kochhar, CEO, ICICI Bank. It is to be noted that this tournament is named after her father, the late Professor Shri RM Advani who was the first Director of MNIT.

A shoutout to the MNIT student body for successfully administering the tournament from start to finish. The Advani Tournament is perhaps India’s only senior invitational basketball tournament that is completely managed by students.

Final Results

  1. Southern Railway Chennai 75 (Adhirai 18) bt South East Central Railway Bilaspur 47 (Anju Lakra 15)- WOMEN
  2. ONGC 76 (Trideep Rai 27, Amrit Pal Singh 17) bt Indian Air Force 61- MEN

Individual Awards

  1. Tournament MVP-  Kokila Subramani, Southern Railway (women); Amrit Pal Singh, ONGC (men)
  2. Finals MVP- Adhirai, Southern Railway (women); Trideep Rai, ONGC (men)