Mumbai: Bolstered by the arrival of Jerome ‘Junkyard Dog” Williams, Sportspower, USA completely outplayed and overshadowed defending champions ONGC, the country’s top basketball playing club, in the men’s final of the 8th Savio Cup All-India Basketball Tournament, sponsored by Tridathu Realty and United Phosphorous, at the Don Bosco School, Matunga late on Sunday.
Veterans in age as compared to their rivals, the three former NBA players, Williams (39 years of age), Grant (38) and Bonner (44), ably aided by their younger teammates, still had plenty in their tanks to keep the ONGC players at bay and emerge comfortable 73-56 winners. Two of the three former NBA players finished among the top scorers, with Williams scoring 16 points, Grant 15 and Terrence Thomas, later adjudged the player of the tournament, scoring 16.
In fact, such was the focus and energy of the 44-year-old Bonner whenever e drove in for layups, that it required foul play from ONGC players Yadwinder Singh and Anoop M to send him sprawling to the floor on two occasions, but he was up in a jiffy, flexing his still rock hard biceps to show the packed stands how fit he still was.
However, it was the Junkyard Dog who stole the show. The 6 foot 9 inch player who turned out for teams like Detroit Pistons, Toronto Raptors, Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks in his playing days, was simply in a class of his own as he exhibited sublime ball handling, dribbling skills and shooting to have the crowd roaring their approval every time he handled the ball.
In the face of this clinical display of attacking basketball and tight defence, ONGC soon ran out of ideas. Barring Riyazuddin,Vishesh Brighuvanshi and Amritpal Singh, who managed to hold their own and also make some smart moves, the other players like Yadwinder Singh, Murali Krishnan and Anoop came across as rank amateurs.
Vishesh, limping a bit and favouring his right knee was on target with his sharp shooting and scored 18 points, while the tall Amritpal was quite effective in his role as center, also tallying 18 points. Riyazuddin, playing the role of ball handler, also managed to score 9 points, but that effort was hardly enough in the end.
Scores (men’s final): Sports Power, USA 73 (Jerome Williams 16, Terrence Thomas 167, Paul Grant 15) bt ONGC 56 (Vishesh Brighuvanshi 18, Amritpal Singh 18, Riyazuddin 9). H-T 33-21. Quarter-wise scores: 20-15, 13-6, 15-19, 25-16.