Improving on last campaign will not be easy but the reigning All India Inter University champions are certainly capable.
The SRM University, Chennai basketball team have come a long way since their painful quarterfinal defeat in 2017 South Zone Inter University tournament, but the squad bounced back truly well and had a remarkable season of 2018.
The team’s captain credits the quarterfinal defeat as the main source of inspiration for the comeback in 2018. It was the team’s zeal to achieve the championship fuelled the squad to face every opponent and emerge victorious. Now, they are the All India Inter University champions. In the team, each player is accustomed with their own game style and versatility which made them a combination of both tactical and unique squad.
Now, the team head into 2019 looking to build on a remarkable 2018 in which they won the All India Inter University (First place) and State level Inter Collegiate tournament, Pudhukotai (First place).
The team often dubbed as SRM Spikers, has a good mix of experience and talent with the likes of great shooters and forwards, supported by the guards and centres, will continue to work very hard and aim to be very difficult to beat, with enough quality to win matches.
In an interview with Fisto Sports, SRM University basketball team captain, Siriki Mahesh, gave an illuminating talk about his team’s experience and accomplishments so far.
Tell us a little bit about your squad this year? How well the squad is equipped to tackle your opponent for the remaining season?
The Team is a mixture of both seniors and juniors who are mentally committed and focused to give out their best after a heartbreaking lose in 2017 State level Inter Collegiate tournament quarterfinals. The zeal to achieve the championship fuelled the squad to face every opponent we faced. Each player is accustomed with their own game style and versatility which made our team a combination of both tactical and unique squad.
Your team have won multiple titles last year, particularly the Thanjavur State level Inter Collegiate tournament finals JPR in which you won 100-99 – by one margin of score. SRM were cruising past all the opponents by big margin in the tournament but the final was a thriller. How exciting the team was after the win and how did your team celebrate after that?
Both the teams are well composed and that’s what made them the finalists but coming to our squad, we had a tough time with our key players getting injured and continuous fixtures resulted in fatigue because of which we have to struggle a bit to win the Finals apart from dominating the whole tournament. To mention, our teammate Tamil Selvan came to the rescue when the team needed him and he also won the tournament MVP Award.
Tell us about your coach, practice session and his playing style. Has your coach have ever asked your team to adapt/play like a NBA basketball team’s style?
Our couch was the backbone of the squad who lead us through victories and some hard times though. He was more of a mentor than a tutor. He encouraged us to develop our own style of play and often he used to show the tapes of NBA game plays to demonstrate some tactical moves and illustrate the need of conposure in the important matches.
What was your team’s biggest margin of victory? And it was against which team?
Against JIT in Inter Deemed University – 15 points
Looking back at your first year, what has been your team’s biggest improvement?
The biggest improvement to mention is that the team started believing in each other irrespective of their place of origin and there was no senior/junior kind of atmosphere.
If your team has choose one player that too – a point guard or a shooting guard from NBA this season? Who would you choose?
It would be Westbrook from OKC Thunders. The reason is he is a great scorer as well as a play maker with an aggressive mindset which our team definitely needs.
Compare to cricket and other sports, Basketball is still a developing sport in the country. What is required for the progression of basketball in India?
There should be a solid awareness created so that the people recognize the potential in the sport and opportunities should be created for the players for their employment which encourages them to step into the court and start balling with an ambition and purpose, after all not everyone can represent India and end up being drafted in the NBA.
What’s the reason behind your team’s success especially in basketball?
We believed in ourselves as well as our teammates. We were a well balanced side with great shooters and forwards, supported by the guards and centres.
We all believed in one, played as one and remained one throughout the season.
What are some things about your team that people might be surprised to find out?
The way we could draft Kaushik from Satyabhama University and Dhina from Hindustan University and many other new drafts but still managed to play as a team with any differences.
Which college is your biggest rival team and do you have any memorable moment against them? If yes, explain.
Definitely it is the Madras University. After losing to them in the south zone finals by a 15 points margin was a great embarrassment to us, being the host team; but coming back strong and winning the semi finals in the all India within a week gap, to secure our place in the finals was a memorable experience to cherish.
What all are the tournaments your team won in 2018?
- State level Inter Collegiate tournament – Pudhukotai (1st Place)
- State level Inter Collegiate tournament – Pattukotai (1st Place)
- Theni State level Tournament – 3 place
- Tamil Nadu Inter Deemed University – 3 place
- Betram Loyola Tournament – 3 Place
- SRM Founder’s Trophy – 1st place
- South Zone Inter University – 2 place
- All India Inter University – 1 place
Which college team is toughest you have played against in the recent times?
Loyola and JIT
What are your team goals and expectations in this year?
To continue the same spirit and winning momentum with the help of amazing support from the management and Coach – Mr Sampath and manager: Azad Ali Khan and the team mentor Mr Dr. Albert Chandra Shekar and our well wisher Mr Feddrick ( Women’s Team Coach)
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