October 20, 2010
Montfort School celebrate double victory at 1st IMG-Reliance School Basketball League
Basketball in India continues to take crucial steps in the right direction. To help the help of the game at the grassroots level and to create the right kind of competitive atmosphere for young talents to grow, the first ever IMG-Reliance School Basketball League was held in New Delhi from August 16-October 20th. 20 boys’ and girls’ teams from 12 different schools across the city took part in a mammoth 96 matches in the preliminary and super league stages.
At the end, the best two teams faced off in the Finals, which were held at Modern School (Barakhamba Road) - both the boys’ and girls’ finals were between the hosts Modern School and Montfort School (Ashok Vihar). The visiting teams pulled off a historic double by winning both the matches and going home as champions.
In the Girls’ final, the Montfort team came undefeated throughout the tournament and continued their phenomenon surge ahead. Montfort took an early lead and never took their foot off the gas pedal. Led by Manini Rai (19 points) and A. Chinmayee Meghana (17), Montfort strolled to a comfortable 56-25 victory.
The Boys’ game was a lot more competitive, as the hosts Modern started off strong in an attempt to upset the favoured Montfort side. Modern held a six-point advantage going into half-time, but Montfort returned to their confident and aggressive style of play in the second half. The comeback was completed successfully and Montfort held on in the final minutes of the game to win the game 50-43, led by 16 points from Nakul Agarwal who has been their best player throughout the tournament.
Earlier on Tuesday, DPS (Mathura Road) Girls and GD Goenka Boys won third place against their rivals DPS (RK Puram) Girls and DPS (Mathura Road) Boys respectively.
Each of the players from the two winning teams was presented with a Rs. 2,000 cash award from the Basketball Federation of India (BFI). Second place players received Rs. 1,500 and third place players received Rs. 1,000 each.
Additionally, the tournament’s sponsors IMG-Reliance provided an extra cash bonus to the top three performing schools of both divisions in the tournament to encourage the improvement of basketball infrastructure in the institutions. Bikram Singh, the vice-president of IMG-Reliance handed out Rs. 1 lakh to the first prize winners, Rs. 75,000 to the runners-up, and third place teams were rewarded with Rs. 50,000.
"This is a great moment in the history of basketball in India and specifically in Delhi," said Harish Sharma, the Secretary-General of the BFI, "The success of this league has been made possible due to our partnership and the support of IMG-Reliance. Now, we want to take this league to other cities across the country."
Sharma added that this was the first time that cash prizes were being rewarded to the schools. "We want to encourage the schools to promote basketball with this money by improving their basketball courts and facilities."
The league has been a colourful get-together of basketball enthusiasts as well as those who are new to the game. Along with encouraging established players and fans, many other school children across Delhi have grown a new-found interest in the game. Sharma has promised an even bigger and better school league in Delhi next year.
Montfort Girls star Chinmayee was satisfied with her team’s performance. "We’re very happy to win this league. It was a great experience playing in front of large crowds, which encouraged us. The league went on for a long time, and it helped us improve our game as we played each time two or more times. I feel very lucky to have won this year because I’m in 12th standard and won’t be participating in next year’s tournament."
From Montfort Boys, the final’s leading scorer Nakul Agarwal credited his team-mates for their support and inspiration in helping to pull off a great performance through the course of the tournament. Montfort made a great comeback after trailing in the first half. "Modern played a very tough game, but we had to prove that we are the best team and we are unbeatable. That is why we came motivated in the second half to win."
"It feels great to have won the trophy," added Nakul, "This the first time that basketball has been promoted so well in the schools and it’s great for the growth of the game in India."
Girls: Montfort School 56 (Manini Rai 19, A. Chinmayee Meghana 17) bt. Modern School 25 (Gauri 11)
Boys: Montfort School 50 (Nakul 16) bt. Modern School 43 (Archit Sinha 15, Satyam Nayyar 12)
1. Montfort School
2. Modern School
3. DPS (Mathura Road)
1. Montfort School
2. Modern School
3. GD Goenka School