Bengaluru, April 28 (IANS) A basket five seconds before the hooter helped Panjab University edged out Jamia Milia Islamia a victory by a wafer-thin margin, 85-84 in the final to clinch gold medal in men’s basketball at Khelo India University Games here on Thursday.
The showdown between long-time rivals Panjab University and Jamia Milia Islamia University, New Delhi (JMI University) in the men’s basketball final put on a spectacle befitting the occasion. After being ahead in the contest from tipoff to nearly the sound of the last buzzer, Jamia lost the match as Panjab came back strongly in the final quarter.
Panjab University sparked off wild celebrations at full time as they took the decisive lead in the final with four seconds to spare in the last quarter.
After clinching the coveted gold medal, Panjab University captain and Indian national basketball team Point Guard Sahaij Sekhon said, “We are thrilled to win the gold medal amongst the best University teams from all over the country. This was a special final, and the credit goes to the whole team and coaching staff because we never gave up despite trailing in the game throughout. Jamia (Milia Islamia) University played a great final too, but we are happy to get one over them because our objective was to prove that we are the best University Team in India, and now we have done that.”
Being the only National Team regular in the men’s basketball draw, Sahaij stated that he has been impressed by the individual talent at the Khelo India University Games 2021. He said, “There are a lot of high calibre players here, and even national team coach Veselin Matic is here to scout for some good young players. I am sure he would have seen some players who have caught his eye.”
JMI University vice-captain Akshay Adhana cut a disolute figure after the loss, although the 6-feet-tall Point Guard could have laid a claim to being the final’s MVP for his performance on both ends of the court.
Speaking about the competition in the Men’s Draw, Adhana said, “Only the top 8 University teams in the country qualify for this competition, so naturally all the teams here are quite good. In terms of the organisation of this tournament, I feel that the Khelo India University Games is the best tournament in India. There is a world of difference between this event and the All India University Games. As an athlete, it feels like we are participating at an International event because everything has been organised in an exceptional manner for the players,” he was quoted as saying by the organising committee in a release.