Rain or shine, the game goes on, sans prize money or pre-event publicity! Yet there was a problem of plenty, 72 teams in the men’s section and 20 in women turning up for the two-day Independence Day basketball tournament’s sixth edition at the YMCA, Secunderabad.
The lone court was the scene of action, each contest limited to just two quarters in a knockout format. It bore a new look though, bathed in blue, red and grey on the back of an acrylic inter-locking surface sponsored by Snapsports. Not slippery even when wet, it gave hoopsters a free run, cushioning their fall to prevent injury, while the ball’s bounce remained even.
The schedule was understandably tight, the ID-eve matches concluding under floodlights at 2 a.m.! Even until that unearthly hour, the crowds steadfastly stayed put, the institution’s premises seemingly unequal to the task of accommodating so many. Caging the ball were corporate honchos, college students and school children.
The innovation this year was a special section for kids aged between four and 10 years. In the fray were tiny tots from the Kotla Vijayabhaskar Reddy stadium scheme, besides those from St. Ann’s School Academy and the Army Officers Club Academy.
“The idea was to make them familiar with this new surface,” said Bana Ravinder, who along with ex-international Varun Dev and former National players Raja Reddy, Syed Shabuddin, Sohail Khan and Sudheer volunteered to organise the event on behalf of the YMCA family.
Masihcharan David Boon, just 16 years old and standing over six feet tall, was declared the event’s best player along with Monica, the duo epitomising the appeal of a game gaining ground slowly but steadily, shorn of the hype surrounding the IPL or more recently, the IBL.