It may not always make national headlines, but India has a surprisingly fervent collegiate-level basketball culture, and for years, the top university/college teams have been taking part in competitive championships around the nation. These championships, held in different zones, then build up to the zenith with the National Championship, featuring 16 of the top teams in India in a tournament to determine the best of the best.
This year, the UBAU All India Inter-Zonal University Basketball Championship for Men was held at Mumbai University's Kalina Campus. The host team gave the home fans a reason to cheer in the finale: Mumbai University defeated edged past Chennai's Anna University 64-61 in the final to lift the title for the first time in 25 years on Sunday, February 28th.
Samson Sandhu was named the tournament's MVP. Sanket Kalbhor (University of Mumbai) won the best defender award, and Anna University centre P. Vijay was named the "best shooter" of the Championship.
Poonam Mahajan, BJP MP and President of the Maharashtra State Basketball Association was the chief guest on the occasion. Other dignitaries present were Niranjan Hiranandani, co-founder and Managing Director of the Hiranandani Group, Dr UN Kendre, Sports Director (Mumbai University), Krishnan Govind Muthukumar, Secretary (MSBA), Dhananjay Velukar, Chairman, Technical Committee (MSBA), Manjula Nichani, Principal of Kishinchand Chellaram college, Mumbai, Dr Rajkumar, Sports Director (Punjabi University) and Rakesh Malik, Association of Indian Universities (AIU) Observer, who distributed the trophies and medals to the winning team.
Earlier in the morning, 2015 champions University of Madras beat southern opponents SRM University, Chennai 81-75 to finish third. Justin Gnana Raj (21), Sandeep D (17 pts) and Anto Bethle (16) led Madras' charge, while SRM University were led in a valiant effort by Shashank Rai (30) and Susyl Paul (17).
Final Four Standings
- 1. University of Mumbai
- 2. Anna University
- 3. University of Madras
- 4. SRM University
The final 16 teams that participated in the UBAU All India Inter-Zonal University Basketball Championship this year were:
- Pool A: Punjab University (Chandigarh), Savitribai Phule University (Pune), KIIT University (Bhubaneswar), Madras University (Chennai).
- Pool B: SRM University (Chennai), Banaras Hindu University (Varanasi), Kurukshetra University (Kurukshetra), Rajasthan University (Jaipur).
- Pool C: Mumbai University (Mumbai), Delhi University (New Delhi), Kerala University (Thiruvananthapuram), Utkal University (Bhubaneswar).
- Pool D: Pandit Ravishankar Shukla University (Raipur), Anna University (Chennai), Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University (Nagpur), Guru Nanak Dev University (Amritstar)