May 1, 2016

2016 Junior (U18) National Basketball Championship tips off in Puducherry


There must be something in the fishes - or something fishy - out in Puducherry.

For the second time in the past four months, the traveling Indian basketball brigade returns to the union territory at India's south-western tip. Organized by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) and the Puducherry District Basketball Association, the 67th Junior National Championship for Boys and Girls tipped off in Puducherry on Sunday May 1, 2016 at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium. The tournament, featuring 48 combined teams in both sexes, is India's premier competition for U-18 basketball stars and will be held until its finale on May 8.

The tournament marks the BFI's unexpectedly early return to Puducherry, after the region hosted the 2016 Sub-Jr National Championship back in February.

26 boys teams and 22 girls teams are participating this year, with matches being played on one indoor court and three outdoor courts. The tournament is played on a league cum knockout basis, with as many as 128 matches played from early morning till late night. In the league stages, all teams within each group play against each other, and the top teams qualify to the knockout stages. Last year in the boys section, Tamil Nadu, and in the girls section Chhattisgarh, were crowned champions in Ludhiana.

The participating teams in the 2016 Junior Nationals are:

Boys
  • Group A: Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Kerala, Chandigarh, Madhya Pradesh.
  • Group B: Punjab, Delhi, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh.
  • Group C: Karnataka, Goa, Gujarat, West Bengal.
  • Group D: Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand.
  • Group E: Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Mizoram, Tripura.
  • Group F: Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Puducherry, Telangana.

Girls
  • Group A: Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh.
  • Group B: Karnataka, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan.
  • Group C: Delhi, Goa, Jharkhand.
  • Group D: West Bengal, Chandigarh, Puducherry.
  • Group E: Gujarat, Bihar, Telangana.
  • Group F: Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand.
Chhattisgarh girls began their title defense on the right foot, surviving in a close matchup against Tamil Nadu 59-58. An impressive second quarter run saw Chhattisgarh take a small lead into halftime, and they extended their lead to 48-42 before the start of the final quarter. But TN played desperate trap and man-on-on defense to make a huge fourth quarter comeback to take a two point lead in the game's last to minutes. Clutch baskets and close-out defense by Chhattisgarh saw them regain their lead and survive for a one-point win. Vandana (19) and Riya (16) led the way for Chhattisgarh, while Ishwarya scored 17 for TN in the loss. Last year's girls' silver-medalists Karnataka started off their tournament with a bang, destroying Rajasthan 69-20.

Boys' champs Tamil Nadu played in a close, high-caliber opening game against Kerala. The two teams traded baskets and leads throughout the course of the game. With the game tied in the closing moments, Kerala’s Prem Prakash used his length to intercept a loose ball, leading to a fast-break lay-up that turned into the game-winner. Tamil Nadu had a chance to tie the game with two free throws at the final whistle, but Hari Ram (22) missed both to hand Kerala the 83-81 win. Muhamed Siras scored 24 for Kerala in the win. In another Level 1 boys' game, M. Aly scored 24 to help Rajasthan overcome Uttar Pradesh 56-46.

Final Scores

Boys
  • Rajasthan (M. Aly 24) bt Uttar Pradesh (Lav Singh 14) 56-46 [12-16, 13-12, 21-11, 10-7].
  • Kerala (Muhamed Siras 24) bt Tamil Nadu (Hari Ram 22, Bala Dhaneshwar 14) 83-81 [15-13, 18-22, 25-22, 25-24].
  • Mizoram (Lalfakzula 34) bt Tripura (Akshay 27) 75-74 [13-21, 20-22, 17-14, 25-17].

Girls
  • Kerala bt Uttar Pradesh 45-12 [12-3, 5-3, 11-2, 17-4].
  • Karnataka (Bhandavya 13) bt Rajasthan 69-20 [20-10, 13-2, 20-7, 16-1].
  • Chhattisgarh (Vandana 19, Riya 16) bt Tamil Nadu (Ishwarya 17, Nishanti 13) 59-58 [14-18, 14-7, 20-17, 11-16].

April 27, 2016

NBA launches new, customized India website (Yes, I'm back on board, too)


Indians are NBA fans, but we are also Indian NBA fans. And there is a subtle difference there. We love the same things that all NBA fans love: namely, our favourite teams, players, highlights, the history of the game, and exciting moments both off and on the court. But we bring whole different flavour of perspective to our NBA adoration: When we think curry, we think both Stephen and Chicken. Durant is an NBA All Star and Duronto is a category of long-distance trains in the Indian Railways. We have respect for hoops meccas like the Madison Square Garden and Staples Center but we also worship humble courts in Nagpada and the Udai Pratap College. LeBron and Westbrook are important to us, but so are Satnam and Geethu.

This is a unique, complicated duality, and yesterday, the NBA launched a new version of their India website to represent the duality of the Indian NBA fan in the best possible way.

The new and improved version of http://india.nba.com/ went live on Tuesday, April 26. The original website, which was launched back in December 2009, was on stall all of this season as a new, stronger system was built to bring an improved, India-centric fan experience, just in time for the NBA Playoffs to heat up. The site can be accessed by going to india.nba.com/ or simply going to nba.com from India. The website was launched in partnership with content and communications company, 120 Media Collective.

The Business Standard reported that the geo-targeted site will offer Indian fans access to video highlights, game recaps, scores, stats and more from the usual NBA.com. The responsive and mobile first digital destination will also provide extensive localized content, including podcasts hosted by local basketball personalities (that would be me) and a special section dedicated to Sim Bhullar - the first player of Indian descent to play in the NBA - and Satnam Singh - the first Indian player to be drafted into the NBA. Additionally, NBA.com in India will feature personalized settings for fans to follow their favourite NBA teams and players, an NBA FIT corner with instructional basketball content, and "Supreme Courts" showcasing the best basketball courts across the country.

For the sixth season, I have donned my so-called 'expert' hat with features and content for NBA India again, and you can find my work - along with the work of my co-expert since 2010 Akshay Manwani - in the 'NBA Experts' section of the website. The website also features work by my colleagues on Ekalavyas.com, including a continuation of their 'Supreme Courts' series and features on Indian basketball stars in the 'Local Heroes' section.

The announcement of the new website was made with a big event in Mumbai on Tuesday night, featuring NBA's Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum, MD of NBA India Yannick Colaco, founder and CEO of 120 Media Collective Roopak Saluja, actor Neha Dhupia, TV star Rannvijay Singh, comedian Abish Mathew, and more.

"The popularity of basketball in India has never been stronger, and our newly redesigned digital destination will provide Indian fans with instant access to NBA news and content," said Tatum. "We are committed to the growth of basketball in India, and we will continue working with our partners to introduce new ways for fans to experience the NBA." Tatum also added that the NBA Mumbai office will now directly report to the NBA head office in New York instead of going through the Asia office.

"The 120 Media Collective's expertise in innovative content creation makes them an ideal partner to produce locally relevant content to engage our fans," said Colaco. "Our new partnership will help us grow our expansive digital presence in India by providing our digitally savvy fans with a way to connect with their favourite teams and players." According to Business Standard, Colaco added that the digital destination will help bring more NBA properties to India audiences. For example, it will drive the presence of WNBA and D-League (both parts of the NBA games every season) in India. Currently, Sony Six broadcasts only the NBA games (14 games a week) which feature the men’s teams and matches and not the women’s NBA matches.

"We are excited to be partnering with one of the world's leading sports properties to engage deeply with Indian audiences," said Saluja. "NBA.com lies at the core of The 120 Media Collective's engagement strategy and will be supported by robust distribution to ensure our content is seen and shared where the audience already is."

Merchandise sales of the NBA in India increased by 200 percent this year while TV viewership (on Sony SIX) touched 70 million.

These are exciting times to be an NBA fan in India. With its new upgrade, india.nba.com doesn't just provide a beautiful, sleek new portal for the NBA's Indian fanbase; it successfully attempts to address the complicated duality of loving the league with an Indian flavour. Hopefully, you will check it often to catch up with the content that me and my colleagues will work on this season and into the future.

April 23, 2016

Government of India doesn't recognize basketball among National Sports Federations for 2016


Now, despite my love for the game, I'm not suggesting that basketball is the biggest sport in India. The most popular sport, which is also the richest, which gets the most fan-attention, and produces the most celebrities, and makes the biggest mark in Indian history, is Cricket. Left behind by the dominance of Cricket are the other sports scavenging for their place in the sun: Football, Hockey, Wrestling, Boxing, Tennis, Badminton, and of course, Basketball. It's niche for the mainstream, but within its niche audience, basketball has a fervent following and legions of serious players whose livelihood depends on the sport's success.

But in a list published by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sport of the Government of India last month, basketball - or the official governing body of basketball in India - isn't recognized anymore by the country at all.

A government notification dated on March 14th, but brought to wider attention by the Indian Basketball Players Association (IBPA) only recently, names 46 National Sports Federations (NSFs) in India that have been renewed for their annual recognition by the Sports Ministry. The renewal of recognition for 2016 - valid till December 31 this year - states that the federations are "eligible to receive various assistance from the Government of India including railway concessions, etc."

Missing conspicuously from that list is the Basketball Federation of India (BFI).


This is no accident. The last one year has perhaps been the most tumultuous in the BFI's 66-year history. The BFI broke apart in two different, competing executive committees last year, with each one fighting for leadership of the federation. Because of the constitutional manner of their elections, FIBA, the international basketball federation, recognized the group led by Karnataka's K. Govindraj (Team Govindraj), and this is the group that has since held national and international basketball events for the country. But the Indian government and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), because of their political ties, favoured the group led by Poonam Mahajan of Maharashtra (Team Mahajan). Last year, the Sports Ministry tried to retaliate to the working group of the BFI (Team Govindraj) by putting all basketball events in India on hold. Later, the IOA also created an ad-hoc committee to oversee new BFI elections separate from the federation that already existed.

So of course, when the Government got its chance to declare the NSFs it recognizes, basketball - the sport with the potential to become one of the fastest risers in the country - was left off. Here are some sports that did make the list: the Atya Patya Federation of India (I discovered 17 minutes ago that Atya Patya was a sport), two different Badminton associations (with and without a ball), a baseball federation (because I guess a lot of Indians play baseball now), a softball association (for those who want to play baseball with a softer ball), a Tenni Koit federation (I discovered less than a minute ago that Tennikoit was a sport), and federations for bowling and tug-of-war.

So what does de-recognition mean, anyway, and why is it so important? The answer lies in the "etc" part of the statement by the Sports Ministry written above: "eligible to receive various assistance from the Government of India including railway concessions, etc." "Etc", according to the IBPA's Secretary-General Jayasankar Menon, means that the certificates issued at various national basketball championships in India this year will have no official value. It means that BFI athletes will not get jobs under the sports quota. And of course, it also effects their railway concessions.

In his Facebook post, Menon added: "IBPA plans to bounce back and request all the well wishers to support our initiatives to bring back OUR game into the approved list of the Govt so that the youngsters will get all the benefits..."

But the IBPA cannot be alone in this. We need more people in the media and the Indian basketball fraternity to bring this issue to light. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sport, and the Government of India, have an obligation to ensure the birth of more sporting opportunities in the country, not see those opportunities suppressed. There is too much basketball potential in India for us to see it wasted.

April 22, 2016

NBA players Robin Lopez and Seth Curry heading to India next week!


Indian mascots beware! And for the rest of us, it's time to bust out those umbrellas because it's about to start splashing real soon.

Photo credit: FollowYourSport.com
Two NBA players who have carved a place for themselves in the league in wildly different ways will come together for one singular cause: promoting basketball in India. Center Robin Lopez of the New York Knicks and guard Seth Curry of the Sacramento Kings will travel to Noida and Mumbai from April 28 - May 1 to support the continued growth of basketball by conducting youth clinics and interacting with local fans.

Curry and Lopez will make their first stop in Noida on 29 April to engage with players at the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA Elite National Camp. From Noida, the pair will then travel to Mumbai on 1 May for a live television appearance on Sony SIX’s NBA morning show "Around the Hoop."

"I understand the game of basketball continues to grow in India," said Curry. "I look forward to experiencing the Indian culture and encouraging the kids to lead an active lifestyle through basketball."

"I can’t wait to visit India for the first time," said Lopez. "This is a great opportunity to share my knowledge of the game with the local youth and interact with fans."

The 7-footer Lopez was drafted in 2008 by the Phoenix Suns and has since also played with the New Orleans Hornets, Portland Trail Blazers, and is currently a starter now on my favourite team, the New York Knicks. Lopez is the only active Knick to ever visit India, which makes this trip extra special for me. Apart from being known for his defense and rebounding, Lopez is also a well-known menace to the NBA's mascot community.

Seth Curry was undrafted in 2013 and bounced between the NBA and the D-League for the next two years, playing sparingly for the Memphis Grizzlies, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Phoenix Suns. Finally, however, Curry seems to have found his footing with the Sacramento Kings - a team owned by Indian tech billionaire Vivek Ranadive - for whom he started several games during the 2015-16 season. Like his older brother Stephen, Seth Curry is also known to be an excellent long-range shooting threat.

Both these players are famously known for their star siblings in the NBA. Robin's twin brother Brook Lopez plays for the Nets and was an All Star in 2013.

Seth's big brother Steph is... well, you know who Steph Curry is, right? MVP? Soon to be back-to-back MVP? Greatest shooter ever? Champion? 73 wins? This shot (and 401 others like this over the course of the season)? Probably the most popular player in the league right now. Riley's Dad. Ya, that guy. I'm sure it's a gift and a curse to be a member of the NBA's Most Famous Family right now. But Seth Curry is a deserving NBA player in his own right. Hopefully, the media in India will respect him for his own achievements in their questioning instead of only asking him about his brother (but I doubt it).

I'm looking forward to Lopez - a famously fan-friendly personality - engaging with fans and immersing himself in Indian culture. I'm looking forward to Seth Curry trying some real Indian curry, and hopefully convincing Steph to follow on his footsteps to India, too. But most of all, I'm looking forward to seeing the two players impart their wisdom on young Indian talents at the Reliance Foundation camp.

The Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA Elite National Camp will be conducted at Jaypee Greens Sports Facility in Noida 28 April to 1 May. The camp will feature the top 12 youth from each state/city in which the program took place, including Punjab, Kerala, Kolkata, Chennai, NCR, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Jaipur and Mumbai.

April 17, 2016

Supreme Courts: Gangyi – Basketball Nirvana in Dharamshala



This feature was first published in my column for Ekalavyas on April 7, 2016. Click here to read the original piece.


Four thousand seven hundred feet above sea level, enfolded within the giant faces of the world’s mightiest mountain range, and aglow with the blessings of serene spirituality, lies Dharamshala. Home to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile, Dharamshala and its neighbouring town of McLeodganj are a simmering pot of Himalayan beauty, Buddhist teachings, Tibetan culture, politics, and some of the best momos known to man.

To an outsider, the region’s equilibrium may sometimes seem like a cultural tightrope. And yet, despite being occasionally at odds, the quest for spiritual nirvana, political activism, or simply, playing host as a summer holiday destination, happen to survive and thrive side by side in a delicate blend. But there is yet another factor that plays a major role in giving Dharamshala its personality, adding a jumpy flavour to that unique cultural blend.

Basketball.

The Tibetan refugee community in India has long held a love affair with the game of basketball, and the cities of Dharamshala and McLeodganj have seen the birth of a vibrant and competitive hoops culture. While Dharamshala does have the HPCA Cricket Stadium, it hardly has enough flat space to provide more options for those seeking to play cricket and football. Basketball, with its compact space, team-spirit, and capacity to produce flair, has become the town’s natural sporting addiction.

For nearly two decades, the Regional Tibetan Youth Congress (RTYC) has been holding a basketball tournament for Tibetan community teams – in both the men’s and women’s divisions – in Dharamshala. With interest and passion for the game growing every year, the RTYC finally upgraded and renovated the Gangyi Basketball Court in Dharamshala a year ago. Last October, this newer, better version of the court got its first chance to host the Martyr’s Memorial Tournament; the results, as expected – both on and off the court – produced fireworks!

*

In 1959, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, fled Chinese occupation in Tibet to exile in India. Soon after, scores of Tibetan refugees followed him in the hazardous journey from Tibet south into the Indian borders and settled in several colonies cross India. The Dalai Lama eventually settled in McLeodganj, where he turned 80 last year and still lives by his famous, eponymous temple.

Estimates record that there are about 94,000 Tibetan’s living in India. As the birthplace of the Buddhist religion, and the current home of the Dalai Lama, India was an easy attraction for the refugees hoping to start a new life. Each year, about 2,500 Tibetan refugees make the month-long, dangerous and illegal journey out of China. Children and adults cross dangerous glaciers, trek through mountain passes, and walk in the safe blanket of night to avoid detection by Chinese authorities or spies during the day. They crossover to Nepal where they are received at a refugee reception center. From there, many go to New Delhi to get registered and are rerouted to Dharamshala/McLeodganj or other parts of the country.

In Dharamshala, the refugee community has set up the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), the government of the people in exile. And a casual stroll down from the CTA is the newly-renovated Gangyi Court. It is here that many Tibetans – young, old, men and women – come together to socialize, shoot some hoops, and play in an iconic basketball tournament.

“We play basketball so much in Dharamshala because, surrounded by mountains, there is no room for bigger games,” said Tsetan Tenzin, 30, an assistant at a Tibetan Herbal Medicine clinic and a long-range shooting threat for ‘Example Team’ at the Martyr’s Memorial Tournament, “Tibetans love the NBA. My favourite player is Stephen Curry, because I love to shoot from outside.”

“In Tibet, people play a lot of basketball too, especially in school,” Tenzin added, “So it’s normal for refugees to come [to India] and continue playing.”

*

Dharamshala and McLeodganj are vibrant little communities, where Tibetan refugees, volunteer NGO workers, foreign tourists, Buddhist monks, and the local Indian population live in relative harmony among the snow peaks that surround them. Outside of basketball, any trip up to these Himachal towns should include visits to the Dalai Lama Temple, monasteries, nunneries, treks, and the quest to find the perfect momo.

But when the Martyr’s Memorial Tournament returned to the Gangyi Court in October, all of Dharamshala was abuzz with talk of the tournament among the Tibetan youth, the monks, working men and women alike. It was bringing different people in the community – those with different political intentions, spiritual inclinations, different generations, or different jobs – together. RTYC, the tournament’s organizers, think of basketball as a way to keep the community tied closer together.

“The main purpose of this basketball tournament is to remember the Tibetan Martyrs who have sacrificed for their country,” said Wangden Krab, the RTYC office in McLeodganj, “Most Tibetan youth are now born in India or come here very young, and they forget what is happening in Tibet. In this tournament, we want to remind them of their martyrs. We want to bring youngsters together and unite them.”

The Tibetan Youth Congress is the largest Tibetan NGO of Tibetan exiles, formed mostly of young Tibetans in hopes to initiate their struggle for Tibetan independence. They have around 80 chapters around the world and over 20,000 members. The TYC regularly lobbies to governments and Human Rights organizations around the world.

“We are still fighting for complete independence for Tibet,” Krab added, “We report to the UN about the critical situation in Tibet, including issues like losing freedom of speech and fighting for human rights.”

Krab added that, although football is truly the favourite sport of most Tibetan refugees, the infrastructure and organization of basketball has made it an easy option to rally the youth behind.

“Football needs more space,” said Krab, “In Tibetan schools here, all types of players – tall, short, good, bad – stop and try and their hand at basketball, and our eager to learn. It is a more ‘freestyle’ sport than cricket. There’s less structure, and has rules that more people can understand.”

“There are no limits to basketball. Everyone can come to the ground and play!”

*

On the day of the finals, the atmosphere was electric and the entire hillside – from shawl-sellers and momo-makers to monks and tourists – caught basketball fever. Young hoop-heads wearing NBA T-shirts and basketball kicks intermingled with monks in orange robes and enthusiastically cheering girls in traditional Tibetan chupas. Tibetan flags and Buddhist prayer flags flew freely. During time-outs, stray dogs strolled casually on the court and were chased away.

The girls’ final was won easily by Men-Tse-Khang (Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute) – dressed in Miami Heat colours – over Sarah College, who were the ‘Chicago Bulls’ for the day. The boys’ teams – both wearing practice jerseys that say slogans like ‘Free Tibet’ or have the faces of the Dalai Lama – stepped out next.

Before the boys’ game tipped off, both teams took centre-court to greet each other with traditional Tibetan presents of white scarves to show respect. The young men – mostly in their 20s – stepped out to cheers as local superstars.

The last two remaining teams were ‘Dhasa’, comprising mainly of second-generation Tibetans born to refugee parents in India, and ‘Nomads’, featuring 20-somethings who had escaped from China over the past five or six years. The action on court immediately became faster and more athletic. On the concrete ground, each hard fall took a little longer to recover from. There were no dunks, but athletic lay-ups with the ‘and-one’ foul calls prevailed.

Eventually Nomad broke open the close contest with a barrage of irrational yet successful three-pointers. They won the final by three points and the crowd rushed the court to celebrate with the victors. Nomad players were lifted on shoulders and drenched with water under a flurry of happy prayer flags.



*

Sport merges different cultures – North Indian, American, Tibetan, European, Chinese – into one. There is little in common between me and the refugees, but in Dharamshala, I repeatedly fell into an abyss of long NBA and basketball conversations, even with Buddhist monks who had denounced most material distractions for a life of spirituality and meditation.

“Monks get angry, too,” said Thakpa Kunga, a young monk who also played in the tournament, “But we know how to control it. Basketball is like meditation for me on court. Sometimes, I played just to clear my problems and tensions. When you play basketball, there are no problems.”

I reflected on a sense of incompleteness among the refugees, who face cultural displacement and a double consciousness of identity between heritage and nationality. Many of them are stuck in the strange new world, but at least they have their community, culture, and spirituality to accompany them.

But thanks to Gangyi – and the numerous other courts in the region – this new world is blessed with basketball, too!

April 9, 2016

Hoopdarshan Episode 28: Maryland's Varun Ram on NCAA Basketball and his India connection


India's finest basketball podcast, Hoopdarshan, is back! In Episode 28, Maryland's point guard Varun Ram - one of the few Indian-origin players to be a part of the NCAA March Madness Tournament - joins the podcast to talk about college basketball in the US and his continuing connection to India. Hosts Kaushik Lakshman and Karan Madhok also give a shoutout to the Delhi Capitals, winners of the second season of the UBA Basketball League, and discuss why it's no surprise that Ludhiana happens to be both a capital of Indian basketball and butter chicken.

Ram was born in Kentucky to Indian immigrants from Tamil Nadu. After being a hoops vagabond in a journey that took him to Division 3, he moved to Maryland and got a chance as a red-shirt to play for the Terps, before eventually making the team. He's had a chance to play for them in two national tournaments. Ram has also visited India and his parents' home state a couple of times in recent years with Crossover Basketball to help teach the game to young players in Chennai.



Hoopdarshan aims to be the true voice of Indian basketball, and since we're such hopeless fans of the game, it will become the voice of everything basketball related we love, from the NBA to international hoops, too. On every episode of Hoopdarshan, we will be inviting a special guest to interview or chat to about a variety of topics. With expert insight from some of the brightest and most-involved people in the world of Indian basketball, we hope to bring this conversation to a many more interested fans, players, and followers of the game.

Make sure to follow Hoopdarshan on Soundcloud or search for 'Hoopdarshan' on the iTunes Store! Auto-sync Hoopdarshan to your preferred podcast app NOW!

Hoopdarshan can be found on...

April 4, 2016

Delhi Capitals win Season 2 of UBA Basketball League


Capitals of the country and 'Capitals' by name. And after their performance at the Gachibowli Stadium in Hyderabad on Sunday night, the Delhi Capitals have capitalized the one word that matters the most.

CHAMPIONS.

Season 2 of the UBA Basketball League - held between eight teams from all around the country from February 18 to April 3 in Pune and Hyderabad - came to a conclusion on Sunday as the squad from Delhi destroyed last year's champions Chennai Slam in Game 3 of the UBA Finals, 92-65. Delhi's performance secured them a 2-1 victory in the best-of-three championship series to make them the new title holders of India's unique new basketball league.

In the deciding Game 3, Delhi's Ajay Pratap Singh scored 21 points while league MVP Vinay Kaushik added 19 to lead their squad. After a close start to the game, Delhi were able to stretch the game to a 45-31 lead at halftime, and their continued dominance after the halftime break ensured a blowout victory. Cammy Carmel (22) and Gopal Ram (18) led Chennai in a losing effort.

Sports Minister of Telangana T Padma Rao Goud distributed the trophies and medals. Other dignitaries present included senior UBA officials, Todd Mack (MD), Tausif Shaikh (Director of Administration), Aseem Khan (Chairman, Intermedia Cable Communications) and Michael Yanke (Chief Marketing Officer). As Season 2 winners, Delhi Capitals were awarded a cash prize of Rs 7,00,000/-. Runners up Chennai Slam received Rs 3,00,000/-. Capitals’ shooting guard Vinay Kaushik, who was named the Season’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) a couple of days ago, collected his Hyosung GT250R bike and trophy during the glittering prize distribution ceremony.

Delhi were able to bounce back in the Finals series even after going down to the more experienced Chennai squad in the first game of the Finals. In Game 1, Gopal Ram (22), Chukwunana Agu (17 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists) and Cammy Carmel (17) proved to be too much for Delhi, using a 25-9 second quarter run to win 77-62. Delhi tied the series in Game 2 behind massive efforts by Arjun GK (17 points, 16 rebounds) and Vinay Kaushik (17) to win 77-67. Arjun GK (21) and Agu (17) were once again Chennai's best players in Game 2. Delhi carried their positive momentum en route to their clinching Game 3 blowout win.

Delhi and Chennai had defeated Mumbai and Pune respectively in the semi-final stage earlier this week to progress to the Finals.

UBA’s Director of Broadcasting Paul Crane also used the occasion to announce that Season 3 of the league will be held from 8 July to 5 August 2016 in Pune.