4th Mulki Sunder Ram Shetty Trophy All India Basketball: IOB, Chennai emerges winners

Chennai won the 4th edition of the Mulki Sunder Ram Shetty Trophy All India Men’s Basketball Tourney by beating Integral Coach Factory (ICF) 77-50 in the final, played at Sri Kanteerava Indoor Courts here yesterday.

Heavy favourites IOB, Chennai had cruised into the finals with a 33 point win over Chennai Customs.

The finale too began where they had left off in the semis, as IOB raced away to an early lead.

IOB’s in-form international centre A. Aravind controlled the paint with numerous offensive and defensive rebounds. He even had two powerful dunks for good measure as IOB led 19-9 at the end of 10 minutes.

But the hardworking ICF side too had some tricks up their sleeve. High scoring point guard Anto Bethle pushed the tempo of the game resulting in some acrobatic layups by shooting guard Praveen Kumar. ICF centre P. Vijay had his task cut out at both ends of the floor, as he was deftly contained by Aravind.

The seasoned IOB side, with numerous former and current internationals, made full use of their deep bench. Slowly but surely, the only eight member strong ICF began tiring by the end of the third quarter. With the wily veteran backup centre Vineeth Revi Mathew too proving to be effective, IOB had built up a strong 60-42 lead going into the final 10 minutes.

The fourth quarter was entirely dominated by IOB, which was happy to give its bit players some playing time. ICF Forward K. Jeya Venkatesh memorably posted back to back blocks on IOB’s Abhilek Paul in a late possession, but by then it was too little too late. The Bankers from Chennai were pleased as punch to re-emerge champs after nearly four years.

SCORE: IOB, Chennai (A. Aravind 23, P. Jeevanantham 14) bt ICF, Chennai (P. Vijay 13, K. Mukunth 10) 77-50 [19-9, 20-23, 21-10, 17-8].

IOB’s forward A. Aravind dunking in the first quarter against ICF in the finals.

Hosts Vijaya Bank finish third

Overcoming a sluggish start, hosts Vijaya Bank outlasted a spirited Customs, Chennai side 81-76 to finish third. Last year’s champs, Vijaya Bank started off uncharacteristically weak on the defensive end. They let Customs’ athletic back court duo of senior international Hariram and southpaw Justin get to the paint too easily. Customs enjoyed a 30-16 lead at the end of the first quarter.

But it was only a matter of time before Vijaya Bank rid themselves of their defensive lethargy, as they restricted Customs to just 11 points in the second quarter to go into half-time trailing by just one, 40-41.

The second half saw both teams go back and forth, trading the buckets. Vijaya Bank’s backup forward Clinton erred once too often with multiple turnovers that kept Customs closer than they should have been. But Vijaya Bank’s international centre Arvind Arumugam’s re-entry into the game in place of the ageing Sanjay Raj injected fresh life into the hosts. Arvind was able to attract attention and create space for slashing shooting guard Anil Kumar and forward Navin to score easy points in the paint to eventually eke out a five point win.

SCORE: Vijaya Bank (S. Karthickeyan 21, B.K. Anil Kumar 15) bt Customs, Chennai (Justin 27, Hariram 23) 81-76 [16-30, 24-11, 23-20, 18-15].

Hosts Vijaya Bank secured third place while Customs, Chennai finished fourth.

Along with trophies, cash prizes of Rs.1,00,000 for winners, Rs.50,000 for runners-up and Rs.25,000 and Rs.10,000 for the 3rd and 4th place teams respectively, were announced.

Besides these, individual awards were handed out to G.A. Anto Bethle, ICF (Best Player of the Tournament), Navin Raj, Vijaya Bank (Most Promising Player) and A. Aravind, IOB (Best Defensive Player) and Justin, Chennai Customs (Most Popular Player).

MD and CEO of Vijaya Bank R.A. R A Sankara Narayanan and Executive Director Y. Nageswara Rao distributed the trophies and individual awards.

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