While Nizam Basketball Academy (NBA) clinched the men's crown, St. Francis College for Women came up trumps on the distaff side

There was a large turnout at the YMCA Secunderabad for the finals of the Andhra Pradesh Sports Journalists Association (APSJA) invitational basketball tournament in the D. Premakar Das Challenge Cup for men and the Mrs. Rachel Abel Memorial Cup for women.

“This reminds me of the YMCA days of old,” said a spectator, “when lots of enthusiasts would watch the action here.”

For the record, Nizam Basketball Academy (NBA) clinched the men's crown and on the distaff side, St. Francis College for Women, Begumpet, came up trumps. Organising it as a club-level event appeared to be a master-stroke, for departmental teams would prove too strong when pitted against local talent.

Giving the best

“A sprinkling of national and international players in all teams made them quite equal, encouraging youngsters to give off their best,” said Norman Isaac, International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Commissioner. “This event, coming as it did between the Nationals and the Federation Cup, proved to be a good opportunity for youth to showcase their skills,” he added.

Forward L. Vijay of NBA, adjudged the best male player and three-point specialist Aarthi of Kendriya Vidyalay, the best woman player, donned key roles in taking their teams to the finals. Others who caught the eye were former international and centre Subbaiah Choudhary, forwards Naveen Kumar and Salla Prasad of Victory Play Ground and the NBA's guard, Tejasvi.

Among the women the St. Francis duo of forward Krithika and Mehul, who proved a lethal combination of forward and guard, was almost always in the thick of the action.

Top class officiating overseen by FIBA referee Peter Santosh Divaker and Basketball Federation of India (BFI) ref Samuel Vasanth Kumar ensured the efficient conduct of the week-long event, which passed off without any untoward incident, argument or dispute.

Inauguration of the meet at the hands of former Indian captain Mohd. Rizwan seemed appropriate as also the felicitation of past greats Syed Ali Pasha Quadri, Yadagiri Rao, Vinaya Sagar and Ponnraj Arthur during the valedictory function.

Former APSJA Secretary U.V. Narayana Murthy, now Deputy General Manager, Corporate Communications, YJK Group, who sponsored the prizes for the best men's and women's players, evinced interest in supporting an initiative by the body of journalists for a high-profile state level awards function and a corporate cup cricket tournament.