Pune: Basketball lovers in the city can look forward to two action-packed weekends with the announcement of the third edition of the hugely popular Masters Basketball League. A brainchild of Suvarna Limaye and Prasad Yeravdekar, the senior basketball players of the city, the league will feature former basketball players over the age of 35 from a dozen clubs across the city. The event will be organised on the plush Basketball Courts of Deccan Gymkhana using the Club’s ultra-modern sports facilities. The organizing team of this league is Shantanu Pawar, Sandeep Nulkar, Yogesh Joshi, Xitij Joshi, Shashank Risbud, Gopika Kachare, Prasad Yeravdekar and Suvarna Limaye. All are former national basketball players.
The league that was conceived as a platform for former basketball players to reunite and recreate the passion with which they played the game, has received an overwhelming response this year again with more than 90 confirmed participants and a significant number on the waiting list. The league has elicited terrific interest from a significant number of former district, state, national and international level players including Chatrapati Award winners such as Shantanu Pawar, Manjiri Mandpe-Kanade, Kajal Amedkar and Nandini Kadam-Dhus.This year Pandey brothers from Thane, former national players, Devanshu Pandey and Hemanshu Pandey too will be playing this tournament.
There will be 10 teams of 9 players each comprising men and women between 35 and 65 years of age vying for the top honors. The playing five will comprise 4 men and 1 woman and an extremely interesting rule that requires every player to be a part of the paying five for a minimum of 5 minutes. Teams therefore need to demonstrate not only great basketball skills but also the knack to utilize their bench strength effectively.
This year the tournament has attracted 10 sponsors. However, the aim is not to commercialism of monetize the League but to raise money that can be used for the benefit of the crop current players, to offer them better facilities and training.
The League that kicks off on the 10th of April will witness matches being played only in the evenings on the 11th, 12th, 17th, 18th and 19th of April 2015. Basketball in India as we know it today owes it roots to the club culture from the past. This League will not only show the spirit and passion with which the game was played but would also afford participants and basketball aficionados the opportunity to revive the nostalgia.