Whatever your city, your school, your college, or your favourite player, there is sure to be enough drama for the basketball fan in New Delhi over the next week. It took three months of action in 24 cities, bringing together over 13,000 players from over 1100 institutions, and now, finally, the Finals are here. The national finals of the expanded Indian School Basketball League (ISBL) and Indian College Basketball League (ICBL) - organized by the Basketball Federation of India and IMG Reliance - tipped off at the Thyagaraj Stadium in New Delhi on Monday, December 15. 40 school and college teams in the men's and women's divisions from 10 cities around India are battling for the ultimate honours: becoming national ISBL/ICBL champions after the finals on December 21.
The revamped BFI-IMG Reliance ISBL/ICBL tipped off in late September this year with ambitious expansion to various new cities and the involvement of many new schools and colleges in the programme this year. The tournament featured teams two different formats for each division in the ISBL and ICBL: the Premier League and the Challenger League.
Each of the winners of the Premier League cities are now in New Delhi vying for the national crown, while the Challenger League winners will be getting a chance to win promotion into the upper league. Four categories of national champions will be crowned from the Premier League cities: Men’s National College Champion, Women’s National College Champion, Boy’s National School Champion, and Girl’s National School Champion.
“These leagues have given a much needed platform for players to garner attention from scouts and coaches and that bodes well for students who aspire to make a career in basketball,” said BFI's CEO Roopam Sharma in a report to Ekalavyas.com. “This is the first and most important step in creating a sustainable basketball ecosystem that will nurture and develop talent across India and based out on the turnout at the city levels, I except an exciting and competitive Finals that will help further promote the game. My best wishes to all the national finalists and I hope all the participating teams in both the leagues enjoy themselves and learn more about the game, so they come back stronger next season.”
The total prize money for all the categories is valued at Rs. 43 lakhs. Winnings teams will also be rewarded with court refurbishments at the school or college. Runners-ups will also get support on improving basketball infrastructure in their educational institutions.
“The Indian School Basketball League and Indian College Basketball League are the first national multi-city, pan-India events of their kind and represent a key milestone in the Basketball Federation of India and IMG Reliance partnership," said Ashu Jindal, the CEO of IMG Reliance, "Together, for the past four years, we have been working to grow the sport of basketball and improve the technical quality of play in India; through these leagues, youngsters in over 22 cities have been exposed high quality, structured league competition for the first time. The response we have gotten from schools and colleges is phenomenal, this year an unprecedented 13000 young cagers have participated in the three month leagues and we look forward to reaching out to more players every year."
Apart from the on-court competition, attending players and coaches will also get a chance to participate in clinics conducted by India's National Senior Men's Coach Scott Flemming and National Strength and Conditioning Coach Tommy Heffelfinger.
There will also be the first-ever national Skills Challenge, which will include a dunk contest, three-point contest, and more.