Savio Cup 8 ends with Sportspower (Men), Southern Railway (Women) and Savio Club (U20 Men) celebrating victory
The Savio Cup – one of India’s most popular and well-respected club basketball tournaments – ended its eighth edition on Sunday, December 9th, at the Don Bosco School in Mathunga, Mumbai. After eight days of exciting action, the Finals were played out in front of an excited capacity crowd that watched Women’s side Southern Railway won the tournament for the fifth consecutive year by beating hosts Maharashtra in the Final. In the Men’s Final, first-time participants Sportspower from the USA – featuring three former NBA players – defeated reigning champions ONGC to lift the trophy.
The night belonged to Indian basketball’s biggest star, Geethu Anna Jose, who saved her strongest performance of the tournament for the finale. Geethu scored 45 points in a dominating game against the host side Maharashtra, who had defeated Southern Railway in one of the preliminary round games earlier in the week. There was to be no repeat performance from Maharashtra’s end as Southern Railway took an early lead and rode it out through most of the game for a comfortable 88-53 victory.
Geethu’s teammate Anitha Paul Durai chipped in with 20 points of her own. For Maharashtra, experienced hand Manisha Dange (20) and Smriti (19) were the leading scorers.
The Men’s final was also a revenge match for American team Sportspower, who had suffered their only loss in the tournament earlier to their final foes ONGC. Sportspower were one of the most popular teams in Mumbai at the tournament as they featured three former NBA players – Jerome Williams, Anthony Bonner, and Paul Grant. ONGC were the reigning champions of this tournament and boasted a squad featuring some of India’s finest players, including Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, Yadwinder Singh, Amrit Pal Singh and Riyazuddin. ONGC were undefeated leading up to the final, including their earlier two point win over Sportspower.
The final was another close encounter between the two sides, but the scales tipped towards the Americans. It was a close game but Sportspower maintained control for most of the way to land themselves an 8 point win and giving ONGC their only loss of the tournament.
This was the first time in the tournament’s history that a youth (U20) competition was also organised amongst six top local teams from Mumbai. Hosts Savio Club beat the Nagpada Basketball Association (NBA) 72-61 in the youth final to win the tournament. Melvin Rego (20) and Yohan Doshi (16) were the leading scorers for the winning side. NBA’s Fardeen Khan had a game-high 28 points in the final while his teammate Mohsin Sheikh chipped in 16.
A total of 15 teams from across India in the three divisions took part in this year’s championship.