Ashwin Menon & Anushka Bidani, Undergraduate Batch of 2022
ABA 4.0 can be thought of as a perfect Freddie Mercury song: quick, sharp, and stunningly exciting. As the first game between the Hoopsters and the Jumpshots commenced to signal the start of ABA 4.0, it was clear as day that the tournament was going to be an exciting one. With flashy handles, sweet spins, and splashes from way downtown, the first day proved to be exciting beyond imagination with all teams struggling to secure qualification to the quarterfinals. The second match of the first day, played between the Sonepat Spartans and the Net Ripping Matadors, set the tone for the rest of the tournament with the first two points rapidly scored in the initial 20 seconds itself.
However, the first day gave us some obvious results and a few shocks as well. The Net Ripping Matadors led by their 51 million acquisition Vir Singh, failed to qualify even though Vir himself scored 14 points in two games and looked in good knick. The Jumpshots also failed to qualify for the quarterfinals even though much sought after rookie George Poonen and Gautham Sundar looked impressive against the Brute Warriors, with Poonen scoring a flurry of points at the end to secure the win. The captain of the Ashoka Basketball team and the costliest player at the auctions by far, 96 million worth star acquisition Avneesh Garimella showed everyone exactly why he cost that much, scoring all of his team’s 14 points in game 6 and all of their 6 points in game 10, securing qualification for Studs Basketball with ease. The Hoopsters led by Syed Waleed managed to qualify from the mythical “Group of Death” after cruising to an easy victory against the Jumpshots and a last-minute loss to Brute Warriors who managed to squeeze in an exhilarating last-second winner from Abdul which led to the latter also qualifying. Chakravyuh and AD007, the two visibly more well-rounded teams, managed to qualify with AD007 even managing to beat Elton’s Boys at the Dhaba. The Boys at the Dhaba looked to be in serious hot water after their loss but their 83 million acquisition Elton Ray came through, showing outstanding accuracy from the free-throw line and saving some of their blushes. Last but not the least by any count, Lavar Balls led by 51 million signing Vishwas and the costliest female player at 27 million, woman of the tournament Joyelle Fleurette Ndik cruised to qualify for the knockout stages.
On the second day, as the knockout stages commenced, tensions were high as some big names had failed to qualify. The quarterfinals were underway and just like the group stages, Syed Waleed (who in total scored an astounding 34 points in the tournament) single-handedly took the Hoopsters through, breezing past Elton Ray’s Boys At The Dhaba. Keeping up with the trend of big signings going out early, Studs Basketball failed to beat the upstarts Chakravyuh, who worked as a team to defeat Avneesh and his team. AD007 took down the Brute warriors with Alika Tandon scoring 4 points and leading the team to a convincing win. The Lavar Balls outplayed the Sonepat Spartans with Vishwas scoring 6 and Joyelle scoring 5 points.
The semi-finals proved themselves to be not for the weak-hearted with the first game between the Hoopsters and Chakravyuh running into overtime twice as nothing could separate them. Eventually, the deciding moment came when Dhruv Khandelwal let his shot fly from way outside the 2 point line. The crowd collectively held their breath before things went absolutely berserk as the shot went clean through, winning the game for Chakravyuh. The second semi-final played between AD007 and Lavar Balls also had the crowds biting their nails while witnessing the brilliant and intense 1v1 between Alika Tandon and Joyelle on the court. Lavar Balls eventually came out on top with Vishwas proving to be the difference once again, scoring 7 points, resulting in Alika’s 4 points and star performance to be in vain. Vishwas, along with Waleed and Dhruv, was one of the most consistent players of the tournament, scoring 5+ points every game. The loser’s final played between Hoopsters and AD007 was a high-scoring game, with the first-runner up Hoopsters scoring 18 points against AD007’s 10.
However, the final played between Chakravyuh and Lavar Balls was, for obvious reasons, the most nerve-wracking game of the tournament. Both the teams’ past performance in the tournament served as a testament to their capabilities, and consequently, it was hard to declare the favourites until the very last point itself. Sonam Phunstok scored 4 points and accompanied with the flashy dribbles, fakes and step-backs proved to be a real headache for the Lavar Balls. Also, the game was stopped in between as Joyelle fell to the ground clutching her arm. Everyone including the players of Chakravyuh looked worried, but Joyelle being the warrior she is, jumped up a minute later windmilling her arm and went on to play all of the remaining time and even scoring a crucial point. In the end, Vishwas proved once again to be the difference as he produced the magical final basket taking his tally of point in that game to 9 and leading his team to ABA 4.0 glory.
Like Mercury, ABA 4.0’s legend is deservedly going to last for ages (or, until it returns next year!)