Basketball Federation of India and IMG Reliance’s joint efforts to promote the game of Basketball reaches the final stage

ISBL and ICBL Nationals 2014_1

New Delhi, December 15, 2014: Three months, 23 cities, 13,000 young basketball players from over 1100 institution teams across the country have today reached the final platform of National championship. Being organized in the capital city, this joint initiative of Basketball Federation of India (BFI) and IMG Reliance (IMG R) -Indian School Basketball League (ISBL) and Indian College Basketball League (ICBL) has set the stage for four teams from ten cities to battle for the trophy. Through this collaboration, BFI and IMG R are living up to the challenge of inculcating basic knowledge of the game of basketball at grassroots levels and cultivate the talent into national standards.

Speaking on the occasion Basketball Federation of India CEO, Mrs. Roopam Harish Sharma said, “This championship is an important milestone in the history of Indian basketball, today we are proud to announce the opening of National championship of the Indian College and School Basketball league. By nurturing the talent at grassroots, our mission has been to create basketball players for the country to represent the game not only at the national but also the international level. Basketball Federation of India is dedicated to the development of the game and this unique proposition with the IMG Reliance team has received tremendous support from the schools and colleges across the country and we are happy to give the best of the champions back to the country.”

“These students have come a long way in a short span of three months and the coming week promises a lot of excitement full of passion, team work and positive competition with the best display of their hard work,” added Mrs. Sharma.

ISBL and ICBL Nationals 2014_2

Announcing the national finals open, Mr. Ashu Jindal, Chief Operating Officer, IMG Reliance, said, “IMG Reliance and the Basketball Federation of India began our journey together four years ago with the aim of growing the sport of basketball and improving the technical quality of play in India. Seeing all of you here at the National Finals of the Indian School Indian School Basketball League and Indian College Basketball League, confirms that we have taken a large step towards our joint vision this year.” ISBL and ICBL Nationals 2014_3

Cities in the finals include New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Ludhiana, Kochi, Trivandrum, Indore, Jaipur, Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad.

In a special message to all the finalists by basketball legend Michael Jordan’s mother Deloris Jordan called out for all the students and said she was very happy to see this enthusiasm for basketball in India. “The best young talent in the country is assembling here and I wish you guys all the best,” said Deloris who was in India for a Jordan Foundation event.


 Content prepared by Vishnu, Gopal and Kabir Saxena

Game 8, Court No. 2: Mallya Aditi, Bangalore beat Oakridge School, Hyderabad

Mallya Aditi, Bengaluru (MAB) were clinical in the first game of the National Finals of the Indian School Basketball League against Oakridge School, Hyderabad (OSH). Relying on a 3-2 zone, MAG played stifling defense against OSH, who never seemed to get a proper rhythm going throughout the game. MAB was the bigger sized team with two of their taller players, Mira and Thangam, outrebounding the Oakridge girls. The script was simple – rebound and break. Crisp outlet passes from the MAB rebounders led to easy layups on the other end for their guards. The two teams applied contrasting styles with Oakridge running a lot of isolation one-on-one plays and dribbling excessively, which led to ill advised shots and turnovers. On the other hand, MAB focused on teamwork and finding the open man. The team from Bengaluru used the patented triangle offense in a number of plays to achieve that perfect open shot. Their post players, Mira and Thangam, were good passers as well, and were able to find the open man whenever a double team hit them. MAB had possessions where the ball did not touch the floor after it was brought up and ended in open jumpshots.

The top scorer for MAB, Mahika, benefited from the open fast break layups created by the team. She ended up with 12 points. The MAB team also excelled at converting opportunities at the free throw line. One of the few sparks for OSH came from their point guard, Anshika, who displayed solid ball handling and passing skills.  Pranathi was the only rebounder on the OSH who consistently contributed to crashing the boards. The 3rd quarter ended with the OSH down by 22 points. OSH’s Sharon exploded in the 4th quarter by shooting 5 3’s as OSH made a bid for a comeback. However, it was too little too late as MAB held on to win by 16 points.

Mallya Aditi, Bangalore (Mahika 12) bt. Oakridge International School, Hyderabad (Sharon 22) 57-41 (15-9, 13-8, 18-7, 11-17)

Game 9, Court No. 2: Government Girls School, Ludhiana beat St. Thomas School, Kochi

The girls team from Government Girls School, Ludhiana (GGSL) put on a show in their match against the girls team St. Thomas School, Kochi (STSK). GGSL showcased their high fitness levels by playing full court man-to-man for the entire match, which completely threw the Kerala girls off of their game. The defensive juggernaut that GGSL was, they forced multiple turnovers with their aggressive full-court presses. GGSL set the tempo early with an explosive 40-point first quarter. The momentum they gained in the first quarter carried forward into the rest of the game, which turned into a blowout. Kerala lacked the ball-handlers necessary to break the full-court presses and get the ball safely into their offensive half. Poor ball handling and lack of a true point guard allowed Ludhiana to reach the 90-point mark at the end of regulation.  Playing an aggressive brand of basketball, Ludhiana’s leading scorer, Gagandeep Kaur, ended with 26 points. The team appeared well disciplined showing sound fundamentals. Judging by this game, GGSL appears to be strong contenders in this year’s National Finals.

Government Girls School, Ludhiana (Gagandeep Kaur 26) bt. St. Thomas School, Kochi (Reeshma V.B. 10) 91-18 (40-6, 17-6, 19-4, 15-2)

Game 10, Court No. 2: Santhome School, Chennai beat Vidyaniketan School, Mumbai

The team from Santhome School, Chennai (SSC) appeared to be a well-oiled unit in their matchup against Vidyaniketan School, Mumbai (VSM). SSC got off to a slow start, but picked up steam after the first quarter to make easy work of VSM. SSC were the bigger sized team compared to VSM, who did not have any genuine big players to operate in the paint. As a result, SSC outrebounded VSM on both the offensive and defensive end leading to some quick buckets on the break. On set plays, the SSC guards relied on dribble penetration and kicking the ball out for open jumpshots. SSC had a balanced scoring effort owing to their unselfish team play, with 3 of their players scoring in double digits. Ria Sharon top scored for SSC with 14 points. The size and defensive rotation of the SSC team frustrated VSM who were unable to go on a run to bid for a comeback at any point during the game. SSC looks like a strong contender looking forward in the tournament.

Santhome School, Chennai (Deepika B. 10) bt Vidyaniketan School, Mumbai (Sakshi Y. Kotian 13) 60-22 (10-8, 17-4, 19-5, 14-5)

Game 11, Court No. 2: Father Agnel School, Mumbai beat Oakridge International School, Hyderabad

Mumbai’s best school boys’ team, Father Agnel School, Mumbai (FAM) outplayed Hyderabad’s best, Oakridge International School (OSH), in their league game today. Playing typical Maharashtra basketball, FAM employed an aggressive brand of defense shutting down OSH and forcing turnovers. FAM had good presence on the inside and outside on the offensive end with knock-down 3-point shooters, Tanmay Mali and Aaron Monteiro, and big man, Anmol Sharma, crashing the boards. Maharashtra’s backcourt of Tanmay and Aaron combined for 66 points, which included 6 three-pointers. Tanmay was FAM’s main creator on the offense. He found his way into the lane quite easily against OSH who displayed poor half-court and transition defense against the Mumbai boys. His dribble-drives resulted in some nifty passes and easy buckets for his teammates – he ended up with 6 assists in the game. The fitness levels of FAM clearly showed with their high activity level as they literally outran the tired OSH team. Overall, OSH failed to match up to the intensity and aggression shown by FAM and that resulted in the blowout win.

Father Agnel School, Mumbai (T. Mali 38) bt. Oakridge International School, Hyderabad (Jagapati HS 18) 91-54 (29-16, 19-19, 20-15, 21-4)

Game 4, Court No. 1: Loyola College, Hyderabad v. R.A. Podar, Mumbai

R.A. Podar college, Mumbai (RPM) defeated Loyola college, Hyderabad (LCH) 55-40 in a slow-paced league game on the opening day of the National Finals at Thyagaraj Stadium, New Delhi. The teams seemed equally matched up to begin the game with no distinct size or speed advantage on either side. RAM played a fundamentally sound game and maintained a lead right from tip-off. M. Carina and A. Negi on the RPM team scored 17 points each and were the catalysts on the offensive end for RPM. While both teams had the ability to score, the main difference between the teams was on the defensive end as RPM was able to contain LCH to under 25 points each half. On the other hand, LCH were lackadaisical on defense, failing to close-in on RPM’s shooters and getting easily beaten on drive-ins.

R.A. Podar, Mumbai (M. Carina 17, A. Negi 17) bt. Loyola College, Hyderabad (A. Mounika 13) 55-40 (15-8, 12-10, 15-9, 13-13)

Court 1 Game 1: Rajasthan College, Jaipur beats Ramjas College, New Delhi

Playing as a cohesive, well oiled unit, Rajasthan College, Jaipur comprehensively beat Ramjas College, New Delhi in the first match played on the main court (court no. 1) at the Thyagaraj Stadium, New Delhi.

Both teams played man to man defence throughout, a strategy that worked wonderfully for the Jaipur team thanks to their athletic, physically imposing and tall players but which backfired for the shorter and less fit Ramjas side. The first quarter was neck and neck with Jaipur leading 11-7, but already the preferred offensive strategies of both teams started becoming clear.

Rajasthan College made full use of its balanced attack, striking from both inside and out. Ramjas with its smaller players tried to force an up-tempo transition game and overly relied on the individual play of Monika (jersey no. 8). Monika managed 10 points for her side, but by halftime, the Jaipur side led 21-12.

Rajasthan’s College players should be lauded for their patience on the offensive end, excellent spacing of players and textbook boxing out and rebounding. The second half saw more of the same, with Rajasthan College now getting its transition game going against a tiring Delhi side. The Delhi players virtually stopped falling back on defence and Rajasthan raced away to a final 52-19 win. Perhaps Delhi needs to rethink its strategy and play zone defence rather than man to man against such obviously physically superior sides.

Rajasthan College, Jaipur (Anita 15, Manisha 14, Jaswant 11) bt Ramjas College, New Delhi (Monika 10, Jyoti 5) 52-19 [11-7, 10-5, 14-5, 17-2]

Court 1 Game 2: Government College for Girls, Ludhiana beats St Josephs Commerce College, Bengaluru

What promised to be a crackling match on paper turned out to be a one sided affair as an obviously superior Ludhiana side made short work of Bengaluru’s best team. On the offensive end of the floor, GCG Ludhiana’s captain Nagma showcased some scorching outside shooting that broke the back of St Josephs zone defence. Defensively GCG Ludhiana’s full court press completely overwhelmed St Josephs which, on numerous occasions, had difficulty even crossing the ball beyond the half court line.

It was clear to see that Bengaluru hadn’t come prepared with set plays to counter the full court press. Their point guard didn’t have the ball handling ability to break the press, nor were her teammates setting up off the ball screens to free up others for the pass. Furthermore, Ludhiana’s faster tempo of playing rushed Bengaluru into multiple turnovers.

Ludhiana also enjoyed the advantage when it came to rebounding on both ends of the floor, this despite Bengaluru boasting of a sizeable front court. Bengaluru has its work cut out to bounce back from this loss, while Ludhiana no doubt has grown in confidence after this win.

Government College for Girls, Ludhiana (Nagma 26, Nirmal 13, Kirandeep 11) bt St Josephs Commerce College (Aishwarya 6, Prithika 5, Sharika 4) 56-20 [19-7, 11-4, 12-7, 14-2]

Court 1 Game 3: Sr Nav Bharati School, Ludhiana beats St Edmunds School, Jaipur

Going up against defending champions Sr Nav Bharati School, Ludhiana was always going to be a tough ask for St Edmunds, Jaipur. In a match which threw up no surprises, Sr Nav Bharati ran all over their relatively inexperienced opponents. To give some context to this team, Sr Nav Bharati Public School comprises majority of players from the top class Ludhiana Basketball Academy that has produced Punjab’s best international talent in the last decade, such as Amjyot Singh, Amritpal Singh, Yadwinder Singh etc.

Not surprisingly, the Nav Bharti School showed off their incredible athleticism with a number of blocks, sustained repeat jumping ability on rebounds and high release jumpshots.

St Edmunds Jaipur has nothing to be ashamed of as they were competing against superior athletes who are used to playing at a much higher level. Edmunds was smart to mask their individual weaknesses by playing a zone defense, but no amount of strategy could stop this Punjab team. Notably, Punjab’s coach Devinder Dhindsa could still be heard berating his players despite his team leading by over double digits at the end of the match. One particular play encapsulated the match for Punjab: Punjab’s Navjot drove from the left wing and caressing the ball with his left hand exploded past two defenders before hanging in the air for what seemed like an eternity to score off the glass.

Sr Nav Bharati School, Ludhiana (Navjot 16, Rahul 14, Ajit 9) bt St Edmunds School, Jaipur (Navee 15, Rahul 14) 57-45 [11-11, 9-13, 20-11, 17-10]

Court 2 Game 12: Velammal High School, Chennai beat Modern School, New Delhi

In the match of the day so far, two terrific teams Velammal High School, Chennai and Modern School, New Delhi faced off. Remarkably, the scores were tied at the end of the first and second quarters. What made this match compelling viewing was that both the sides brought their ‘A’ games to the floor much to the delight of the two hundred odd spectators.

Modern School went on a mini run in the first quarter only to see Velammal answer strongly, all thanks to guard P Baladhaneshwar’s acrobatic displays. The match saw a ton of highlight plays. On the defensive end, there were back to back blocks by Chennai’s P Baladhaneshwar and A Surya, while on the offensive end, Delhi’s point guard Mahir had an incredible behind the back pass which was matched by Velammal’s star guard Baladhaneshwar’s  no look over the shoulder pass to his teammate in the post. The second quarter ended with a flurry of fastbreak opportunities for both teams with the scores tied at 46-46.

The third quarter saw Delhi gaining a slight advantage thanks to a few offensive putbacks. But Velammal kept up its scoring with layups in transition. This was a game of runs with both teams always within single digits of each other.  By the end of the third quarter Chennai had nosed ahead 72-66.

The fourth quarter saw Chennai hold on to its slender lead and it slowed down the tempo just enough to keep Modern School at bay, for a final 91-85 win.

Velammal High School, Chennai (Baladhaneshwar 26, A Surya 19) bt Modern School, New Delhi (Prabhav 39, Himanshu 20) 91-85 [24-24, 22-22, 20-26, 25-13]

Gopalakrishnan R
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