Loyola College to the fore

Loyola College, Chennai, winner of the Fr. Balaiah Trophy-

Loyola College, Chennai, won the Fr. Balaiah Trophy and a cash prize of Rs. 20,000 with a well-deserved 80-65 triumph over host Loyola Academy, Alwal, Secunderabad, in the sixth edition of the all-India inter-college basketball tournament. Consistency was Loyola College’s forte as it clawed its way back into contention in the last quarter in the league-cum-knockout competition.

Loyola College’s charge emanated from ball-handler Anto, who directed a well-orchestrated attack, carried forward by the cohesion between the guards, forwards and the pivot.

Pivot Vignesh and forwards Mukunth and Mohanan were always in the forefront, giving the rival defences a torrid time.

International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Commissioner Norman Isaac was full of praise for Mukunth. “Even when he came on as substitute, the junior India player was a complete all-rounder, logging 20-odd points each time. He was head and shoulders above the rest as the tournament’s outstanding player with an 80% conversion rate, quite a bit of it from outside shooting, drive-in baskets. Nobody could keep pace with his high-speed assaults,” the widely travelled official observed.

Defending champion Jhunjhunwala College, Mumbai, bowed out in the league phase itself. That was no indication of a drop in standards, which, over the last six years of the event’s regular conduct, have only been on the rise. Three Hyderabad-based teams — A. V. College, St. Martins and Loyola Academy — reached the last four stage, while many visiting sides such as Loyola (Chennai), Bishop Heber and Jamal Mohammed (both from Tiruchi) made the knockout phase.

A surge in standards in the local sides could be attributed to the ongoing Basketball Federation of India’s IMG-Reliance inter-college league in the Twin Cities since December.

Sacred Heart College, Tirupattur, walked away with the volleyball title. International paddler Nikhat Banu, a B.Com final year student enjoying a three-year fee waiver as part of Loyola Academy’s endeavour to encourage promising sportpersons, was felicitated on the occasion.

A. Joseph Antony