UBA: Chennai crowned champions, but basketball the winner
P Jeevanatham leads University of Madras to the All India Inter-University Championship title
It was a city derby that could serve as a precursor of good tidings for basketball in India. When a dominant University of Madras team put their hosts, the Sathyabhama University team to the sword in the finals of the UBA All India Inter University Basketball Championship 2014-15, they were writing the preamble to a bright new chapter for Indian basketball.
A word is also due to young Jeevanatham, who sliced through opponents in a flashy and impactful manner, to guide his team to the coveted title. In Jeevanatham and his ilk, we have the stars that are destined to shine bright on the platform being crafted by the nascent UBA.
Bollywood actor and sports enthusiast, Abhishek Bachchan, lent glamour and glitz to a well organised final that was eagerly attended by the sport loving people of Chennai. Abhishek was in his element, cheering lustily through the final before handing over the trophies and medals to the finalists. “Basketball is growing rapidly and is going to be the biggest sport in this country,” said an optimistic Abhishek.
“The Universal Basketball Alliance will continue to have my full support in this great initiative to promote basketball in India.”
New platform for basketball in India
A growing bunch of Indian fans know only too well the impact and scale of collegiate sport in established markets such as Europe and America. They will delight in the success of the tournament, in the fond hope that this could serve as a foundation that ushers in an era of professional basketball in India. The sixteen universities – drawn from the four zones in India played the tournament with enthusiasm to crown the first champion university from the elite selection from the North, East, South and West.
The All India University Championships has crowned the National University Champions much like the NCAA event in the USA that decorate the college champions in that country.
For many years now, basketball has been craving a platform that befits the stature of the event and its rich heritage. There is reason to believe that the UBA can provide just that and more.
But there are many miles to go before we can start singing the hymns. This is just a solid beginning and there is plenty that needs to be done at the grassroots and in terms of sustaining the momentum that surrounds league sport in India presently.
If the UBA can keep working at multiple levels to involve players and garner corporate participation to keep basketball vibrant at multiple levels, it could indeed herald a new era in the sport for India. But that is easier said than done. For a start, the minds and legs that run the sport in this country ought to rally around support systems such as UBA to arrange many more events of the scale seen in Chennai to ensure that mill continues to roll forward.
As far as this just concluded event, all of Chennai and University of Madras in particular have found reason to cheer, but it is the sport of basketball that has discovered many new reasons to celebrate a robust new platform for the sport in India.
University of Madras, Chennai (Jeevanatham P. 26 points 10 rebounds, N Nagaraj 20 points 14 rebounds, Anto Bethle 19 points 11 rebounds, Karthickeyan S 12 points 12 rebounds) bt Sathyabama University, Chennai (Arun Prashanth 19 points, Rakesh 17 points 16 rebounds, Vimal Raj 10 points) 81-64 (18-15, 14-13, 25-16, 24-20)
Jain University, Bengaluru (Kaif Zia 36 points 14 rebounds, Yashas R 31 points, Vinoth 25 points) bt Bharati Vidyapeeth University, Pune (Kapil Gaikwad 48 points, Akshay Bhosle 36 points) 123-115 (25-34, 29-36, 33-21, 36-24)