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National Games Basketball: Delhi secures historic three medals
This is the first time any Delhi team is medalling in the National Games, with the men's team in particular, benefiting from an 'ONGC boost'.
One key takeaway from the recently concluded National Games has been Delhi’s mind-boggling three podium finishes.
Delhi’s 3x3 men’s and women’s teams finished with silver medals, and the 5v5 men’s side secured the bronze.
While the Delhi women’s team had been doing exceptionally well over the past year - finishing runners-up at last month’s 3x3 Senior National Championship and in the top half of the standings in the previous edition of the 5v5 Nationals - now the men’s squads too have officially joined the party.
Delhi’s National Games standings this year are historic, to say the least.
Confirming the same, Delhi Basketball Association Secretary Mr Ashok Rangeen said that heading into these Games, “Delhi had never ever won a National Games medal.”
In fact, the Delhi men’s 5v5 team has never medalled at a National Championship. Period. The women meanwhile, had famously beaten powerhouse Indian Railways twenty years ago - to secure a gold in the 2003 Senior National Championship.
Citing the reasons behind Delhi’s superlative performance this time around, Mr Rangeen said, “We had a continuous one-month coaching camp. We also got two players from ONGC in the last month and one player from Indian Air Force.”
The Air Force player being referred to is none other than former Indian point guard Joginder Singh Saharan - who was cut from the Services squad for reportedly being “too old”. (Ironically, it was the Services team that Delhi beat in the bronze medal match at the National Games.)
Jogi aur Baba ki Jodi
India’s two best point guards were on the same team, and both complemented each other very well. On the one hand, you have a certified playmaker and a leader in Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, and on the other hand, you have a three-point sniper, Joginder Singh Saharan.
We have used RealGM’s Chris Reina’s Floor Impact Counter (FIC) to measure the impact of a player here. According to the metric, Bhriguvanshi's (58.4) and Joginder's (51.9) performance against Services was in the top 10. Bhriguvanshi’s (52.8) performance versus Goa was on the list as well. The highest in this list was Amjyot’s game against Tamil Nadu with 64.61.
Looking at the team’s style of play, Delhi preferred having more screens and hand-off actions in the tournament. Whenever Jogi brought up the ball, the first action was to get a screen to create a separation for him to take a pull-up jumper or pass it out for a catch-and-shoot to score at 51.8 3PT%, which was third in the league. For Bhriguvanshi, it was more isolation and more from a mid-range and drive-ins, which show up in his 53.2 FG%.
Usually, players with similar roles don’t always gel with each other well, and when they are point guards, it is more trouble (NBA fan iykyk). But here, Vishesh assumed a forward role as listed on the BFI stats and it also reflected in his game.
These two players were Delhi's offensive firepowers who helped them achieve their best finish in the history of the National Capital.
The ONGC Impact
Last September, ONGC’s team shifted its base to Delhi from Dehradun. Thereafter, following the completion of the six-month domicile requirement (which might be done away with soon), seasoned ONGC players Vishesh Bhriguvanshi (Arjuna Awardee and long-time India captain) and Abhishek Rai joined the Delhi team - adding experience to a typically youthful side that relies on DU college talent.
As the Delhi-ONGC jerseys on display at the National Games showed, the Delhi teams were in fact sponsored by ONGC - to the tune of INR 2 lakh.
“It’s a win-win situation,” ONGC’s Games co-ordinator and basketball team coach Dinesh Kumar said, highlighting how the side has benefited from getting access to Delhi’s talent pool, especially considering ONGC’s sports recruitments have slowed down in recent years, resulting in an aging unit that is no longer the dominant force it once was at the National level.
Earlier this month, Ekalavyas.com had reported how Delhi might be back in the thick of things in terms of hosting international events. Now, the Delhi teams’ strong showing gives India’s national capital even more reason to rejoice.