ONGC's star-studded squad out of Uttarakhand made it three wins in the last three years as they defeated IOB (Chennai) in a finals rematch of the 29th Federation Cup Basketball Tournament for Men and Women at the Shiv Chhatrapati Krida Sankul in Mahalunge, Pune (Maharashtra), on Thursday, April 2. The Women's competition at the tournament was held in round-robin fashion and it was Southern Railway - who finished atop the group standings - and emerged as winners.
The Federation Cup pits India's most successful recent clubs or states against each other. In the Men's division, the participating teams were chosen from the eight best club sides from India's top ranking states in the previous National Basketball Championship, while the Women's teams were represented by the eight top rankings states or railway units themselves. The 29th Federation Cup, organized by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) in association with Maharashtra State Basketball Association (MSBA) and Pune District Basketball Association, tipped off on March 29.
In a rematch of last year's men's final, ONGC easily fought off their rivals IOB en route to a 71-50 win. India's national team big man Amrit Pal Singh came up huge for ONGC with 20 points. The Uttarakhand-based held a small 34-28 advantage at halftime, but turned up the gears after the break to outscore IOB by 15 in the final two quarters of the game.
The Third Place game for Men was won by Indian Army, who were led by the high-scoring duo of A Gopal (25) and Jai Ram Jat (22) in a 61-53 victory over Punjab Police.
The Women's division was held in a round-robin league fashion only. Southern Railway needed a victory on the final day to secure their lead and end the tournament as champions, and they delivered in style, thumping Chhattisgarh 87-56 in their last game. Kerala secured the Women's silver medal with a dominant 74-29 win over Delhi.
- Men's Final: ONGC (Amrit Pal Singh 20, Vishesh Briguvanshi 13) bt. IOB (Amjyot Singh 14) 71-50 (21-13, 13-15, 25-16, 12-6).
- Third Place: Indian Army (A Gopal 25, Jayram Jat 22) bt. Punjab Police 61-53 (7-19, 23-13, 12-6, 19-15).
- Women's Super League: Southern Railway (Alagutamil 15) bt. Chhattisgarh (Sharanjeet Kaur 17, L Deepa 13) 87-56 (18-15, 27-17, 15-16, 27-8).
- Women's Super League: Kerala bt. Delhi 74-29 (21-11, 18-10, 16-3, 19-5)
- 1. ONGC
- 2. IOB
- 3. Indian Army
- 1. Southern Railway
- 2. Kerala
- 3. Chhattisgarh
The Federation Cup was held in the midst of back-office drama for the BFI, as two different factions called two separate meetings to elect two different executive committees to run the federation. Now, the BFI has two different presidents and the factions are headed for a court-case. At the tournament itself, an official sparked more conflict: Lalit Nahata - organizing secretary of the Federation Cup and joint secretary of the MSBA - insulted India's former captain Riyazuddin of ONGC by putting a dirty mop on his face/shoulders. Several of Riyaz's teammates and players from other teams came to the player's defense immediately. After a near altercation, Nahata first resigned into an office and later came out to apologize to Riyaz and the other players.
There is more than enough drama and excitement on the basketball court in India to keep us entertained, as the Federation Cup proved. In the future, we hope that the drama stays exactly where it belongs, and out of the hands of officials hindering the sport in India.