It started nearly six months ago in Hyderabad. It traveled through eight Indian cities for the school phase, and then back to the eight for more in the college phase, oversaw the participation of 320 school and college teams from across the country, and featured thousands of young Indian men and women competing passionately to be the last one's standing.
And finally, over the past week, as the champions of each of the Indian cities in both the school and college divisions and in both men and women sections got together in New Delhi for the National Finals, the best of the best rose to the top to life the National trophies.
emerged as champions after five entertaining days of basketball at the Thyagaraj Indoor Stadium in New Delhi. The final champions were:
School (Girls): Government Girls Senior Secondary School (Ludhiana).
School (Boys): Sr Nav Bharti Public School (Ludhiana).
College (Women): M.O.P. Vaishnav College (Chennai).
College (Men): Jeppiar Institute of Technology (Chennai).
The national championship featured a total of 32 teams, all of whom were the winners of their respective cities' school (girls), school (boys), college (women), or college (men) championships. The team's were chosen after five months of games in the largest-ever iteration of the BFI-IMG Reliance School or College leagues, held in a record eight Indian cities: Hyderabad, New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Ludhiana, Indore, Kolkata, and Bangalore. This was the first ever national tournament and it tipped off on April 30th.
In the School (Girls) final on Sunday, Ludhiana's Government Girls School survived a close game and a late charge by St. Joseph's (Chennai) behind 20 points by Samriti 24 and 20 from Gagandeep. It took an important third quarter run for the Ludhiana side to pull away from their competition. Devi had a game-high 27 in a losing effort for St. Joseph's.
The College (Women) final also featured a great individual battle. Gomathi of MOP Vaishnav College (Chennai) and Simonelle from SBM Jain College (Mumbai) were both determined to lead their respective squads to victory. In a thrilling contest where both sides remained locked neck to neck till the very end, it was finally a clutch free-throw by MOP's captain Diviya that proved to be the difference that gave her side the close 74-73 win. Gomathi finished with 37 big points while her teammate Akshaya added 18. For SBM, Simonelle had a team-high 33 while Sindhuri chipped in with 16.
The last final was also the day's closest matchup. The star-studded Jeppiar Institute (Chennai) and Government College (Ludhiana) played in a classic back-and-forth game that revealed the best of the players' characters. After going 10 points down in the first quarter, Jeppiar bounced back to take a lead at halftime. Government College stuck with them the whole way however, and when the final buzzer sounded, neither team was ready to give in as the score remained tied at 74 each. On to overtime they went, and it finally took some clutch shots from the field and the line by Jeppiar's Arun Hari (28 points) which proved to be the difference as his side survived for an 88-85 win. Shashank added 24 for Jeppiar. Government College's loss wasted a couple of monster nights by talented big man Palpreet Singh (42 points) and Harmandeep (31).
All four winning teams from the four categories were awarded Rs 1,00,000 each, runners up took home Rs 75,000 and the third placed teams received Rs 50,000.
In the College (Women) third/fourth place game, Government College (Ludhiana) easily dismantled Renaissance College (Indore) for a 72-33 victory, in a game which included a dominating 24-3 third quarter in favour of the Ludhiana side. The Men's game was a high-scoring affair where SBM Jain College (Bangalore) were led by Vinoth (31), Visu (22) and Kaif (17) to defeat Kirori Mal College (Delhi) 98-85. Harish (31) and Aditya (22) led the way in scoring for the Delhi unit.
The final day of the tournament also featured a half-an-hour exhibition training session of India's Senior National Men's squad, led by Head Coach Scott Flemming. The players performed several lay-up, passing, and shooting drills for the audience of young college and school players and also played in a short practice game.
- School Girls: Government Girls Senior Secondary School (Ludhiana) (Samriti 24, Gagandeep 20) bt St Joseph HS (Chennai) (Devi 27) 59-55 (15-14, 12-13, 19-12, 13-16).
- School Boys: Sr Nav Bharti Public School (Ludhiana) (Gurwinder 39, Loveneet 26) bt Fr Agnel School (Mumbai) (Rohon 37, Tanmay 16, Varun 13) 97-85 (20-18, 24-26, 19-17, 34-24).
- College Women: M.O.P. Vaishnav College (Chennai) (Gomathi 37, Akshaya 18, Mildred 13) bt SBM Jain College (Bangalore) (Simonelle 33, Sindhuri 16) 74-73 (18-18, 14-17, 21-16, 21-22).
- College Men: Jeppiar Institute of Technology (Chennai) (Arun Hari 28, Shashank 24) bt Government College (Ludhiana) (Palpreet Singh 42, Harmandeep 31) 88-85 OT (12-22, 27-13, 15-18, 20-21, 14-11).
- School Girls: Modern School (New Delhi) (Madhu Kumari 34, Ananya S 17) bt Bishop Cotton High School (Bangalore) (Shanice 15, Aksa 13, Lopamudra 12) 65-61 (9-16, 22-11, 14-17, 21-17).
- School Boys: Oxford School (New Delhi) (Saurav 24, Abhishek 23) bt The Bhavan’s Prominent (Indore) (Laxman 39, Mayank 15) 85-71 (29-14, 14-18, 15-21, 27-18).
- College Women: Government College (Ludhiana) bt Renaissance College (Indore) 72-33 (21-10, 14-8, 24-3, 13-12).
- College Men: SBM Jain College (Bangalore) (Vinoth 31, Visu 22, Kaif 17) bt Kirori Mal College (New Delhi) (Harish 31, Aditya 22, Dheeraj 14) 98-85 (20-22, 22-20, 28-14, 28-29).
- School Girls: Gagandeep Kaur (Government Senior Secondary School, Amritsar).
- School Boys: Gurwinder Singh (Sr. Nav Bharti School, Ludhiana).
- College Women: Gomathi K (M.O.P. Vaishnav College, Chennai).
- College Men: P Vijay (Jeppiar Institute of Technology, Chennai).