The Savio Cup is one of the most respected basketball tournaments in India, and is played in the historical courts at the Don Bosco High School in Mathunga, Mumbai. The annual tournament, which enters its eighth edition starting on Sunday, December 2nd, has always featured a mixture of high-quality club and state teams featuring the best basketball talent from across the country. The tournament has also regularly featured American basketball team ‘Shooting For Success’ who have been crowd-favourites adding talent and athleticism at this popular tournament.
Shooting For Success won’t be coming to Mumbai for the Savio Cup this year. Instead, the organisers of the tournament are going one step further, and bringing another American team called ‘Sportspower’ led by three former NBA players: ‘The Junk Yard Dog’ Jerome Williams, Paul Grant, and Anthony Bonner. This will be the first time that former NBA talent will be playing in an official tournament in Mumbai.
True, none of them are superstar and marquee names, but few hardcore NBA fans will forget the 6 foot 9 Junk Yard Dog aka JYD aka Jerome Williams during his nine years spent between the Pistons, Raptors, Bulls, and Knicks from 1996-2005. JYD was a fan favourite wherever he went for his hard work and tenacious defense and rebounding, mostly off the bench. He had a career year with the Raptors in 2002-03, when he averaged 9.7 ppg.
6 foot 8 forward Anthony Bonner was a picked 23rd by the Sacramento Kings back in 1990. He played for the Kings, the Knicks, and briefly for the Magic between 1990-96. But his career was mostly a basketball adventure around the world, as he played professionally in Italy, Greece, Turkey, Puerto Rico, Spain, and Argentina.
Paul Grant, a seven-footed Center joined the NBA when he was drafted 20th by the Timberwolves back in 1997. He spent his seven year professional career with short NBA stints for the Timberwolves, Bucks, and Jazz, and playing in other leagues like the CBA, ABA, the NBDL, and in Serbia. He only played 22 total games in the NBA.
None of the three players are spring chickens, of course. Williams (39), Grant (38) and Bonner (44) are going to be slow and relatively less effective. But for those lucky fans in Mumbai who will be attending the Savio Cup over the upcoming week, age isn’t going to matter. There is no information yet of the other players in the ‘Sportspower’ team, but hopefully they have some young legs to give the best Indian teams a challenge.
ONGC’s men’s teams are reigning champions of the Savio Cup from last year and will return again this season with some of the biggest stars in Indian hoops. Five Men’s teams and four Women’s teams will be taking part in the tournament this year, which is being held from December 2-9, 2012. Southern Railway – featuring Geethu Anna Jose – are reigning champions of the Women’s competition.