When TIP started on the 28th august, I was one of those people who didnâ€™t know what to expect. There were certain â€œhappeningsâ€ that indicated that TIP was never going to be the same as before like the cancellation of hostel accommodation for Karachi residents etc. But what really took me by storm in the very first week was the news that Greenwich University was organizing a Basketball tournament and that our university was invited to participate. When it comes to sports, Greenwich and TIP have been on very good terms and they have supported our athletes in the past when our own university hasnâ€™t. Now, this year I became the official captain of the Basketball team and had taken it on myself along with our new coach to come up with a proper team. But on this short a notice, coming up with just a team became overwhelming. There were a number of factors working against us. A couple of senior players took a moral blow when the hostel accommodation issue came across and we learned that the players representing TIP in sports and athletics will not be given any rooms. Up until the last day, I was not sure if my wingman, whoâ€™s been with me for the past two years would play on the team. Losing him wouldâ€™ve been critical but fortunately, he decided to be a team player as he always is and I thank him from the bottom of my heart. Zaid had illness issues. Adnan Dohadwala couldnâ€™t participate because our opening match was on a â€œbari raatâ€. We didnâ€™t have a proper starting line up as it was and now we had to hurry with the freshmen selection process.
Fortunately, this year weâ€™ve got a few talented players whoâ€™ve actually played and competed at the college level; some even better than us. This meant that for the first time, we would have a proper starting line up. What was required now was time for the players to practise and get acquainted, build trust and become a team. But time was a luxury we didnâ€™t have and there were certain â€œmanagement issuesâ€ that served to nail our coffin.
For the team to function as one, players were supposed to stay back after university to focus on the game but they didnâ€™t have any accommodation. So we were given the privilege of using the hostel â€œBolanâ€ for our journey back to the city campus. Now, the participating teams were required to compete with atleast 12 players. Letâ€™s assume for a minute that the team actually stayed back for practice and that all 12 enthusiastic players showed up. Now imagine them 12 players all cramped in our hostelâ€™s â€œbolan expressâ€ and let me remind you that Saad Mehmood of TS-4 is in our lineup. Fortunately for the health and well-being of all the players and unfortunately for the team, no one stayed back. This year, our lineup mainly consists of freshmen and almost all of them had issues being dropped off at the city campus. Some of the students live in far off areas and they felt they didnâ€™t have what it took to use public transport after a hectic day of studies/ basketball practice. It was a fair enough argument if you come to think of it. I mean here are students who are trying to get used to the exhausting journey of just coming to TIP and it hasnâ€™t been a week since their first day and they are asked to represent their university. But apparently these points were futile against our universityâ€™s new â€œpoliciesâ€. I even brought my car one day just so a few players could travel in peace but wellâ€¦the rest is history.
Now to the tournament, which started on the eve of Thursday 7th September. Our first match was against D.M.C. Prior to the match, I ran across the Mehran University Basketball team. They seemed to remember us; not that our past performances against them have been memorable. Their point guard and captain told me he was relieved that TIP was participating because that way, theyâ€™d atleast win one match. That remark really got to me and I wanted to punch that guyâ€™s teeth down his throat. But thatâ€™s not how things are taken care of on a basketball court and besides, he was right. All the matches that MEUT has won in the past have been against TIP. Anyways, coming back to D.M.C. Now, this was not a proper basketball team; not that we were. I mean a few players seemed to have the basic skills but they were overdoing every exercise during the stretching, as doctors normally tend to do. But they had a few things our team didnâ€™t have; their players were well acquainted amongst themselves and they had had a dayâ€™s team practice. Inspite of the fact that I learned the names of half of my team-mates on my way to the Greenwich Court and that almost everyone on our team played a one-man game except of a couple, we were still able to put up a fight. We were leading D.M.C. till half-time, but our fouls got the better of us in the 2nd half and we gave away too many free-throws. Eventually we lost by a difference of one point. The final score was 15-16. This was the 1st time that TIPâ€™s basketball team came close to winning a match and the credit goes to the freshmen in our lineup, Arsalan and Sajjad in particular. Arsalan scored 10 of TIPâ€™s 15 points. He is the best basketball player to hit TIP after Zain of TDT-4 in my opinion. Aasim played an all-round game and he contributed with a couple of points and assists. He put his body on the line on more than a few occasions and was badly hurt during the match. I played one of the worst games of my life, offensively. My personal highlight for the evening was zero fouls. I was, however, able to keep the defense real tight at my end but well, it doesnâ€™t really matter, because the best defense is a strong offense. The day ended on a satisfied note, for me in particular, because I knew that weâ€™ve got a winning team at our hands waiting to be harnessed. I even heard the coach of the D.M.C. team say he didnâ€™t have a clue how they managed to win when we were in the cafeteria for refreshments.
On Saturday, 9th September, TIP basketball team was victorious for the first time in our universityâ€™s history. I wish I could say it was an intense match with twists and thrills but that wasnâ€™t the case. The rain on Friday and the heavy traveling that Mehran University students had to do came to our aid and on Saturday, we were given a walkover.
Our next match was against the two time defending zone champions and the hosts of the tournament: Greenwich University. Now this was like throwing meat to a lion or something to that effect but we played this match anyway because we wanted the new players to experience how a university team of professional proficiency operates. But it wasnâ€™t exactly a walk in the park for them. And even though the scores may suggest otherwise, we gave them a run for their money. Given the fact that we had no practice after our defeat the other night, the way we penetrated their defense was commendable. I mean if we had played against D.M.C. the way we played against Greenwich, I swear we wouldâ€™ve kicked their lab-coated ****. Arsalan was again the pick of the players with 12 points. Adnan Dohadwala (TS-4) came up with a few offensive rebounds and scored 4 points from tight spots. Aasim came up with a few points and steals. Offensively I played a much better game. I assisted 4 of the 6 shots Arsalan scored on and had a few blocks and 4 fouls to my credit. The final score was 36 â€“ 18 which is very respectable considering it was 24 â€“ 8 at half-time. There were a number of foul calls which were debatable. I was a personal favorite of the referees when a Greenwich player nearly took my fingers off at a 3-point attempt I took and was not awarded a foul and then on another occasion, a clean block of mine was called a foul. But I guess thatâ€™s what home-court advantage is all about.
Our next match was against A.K.U. on Monday, 11th September. We didnâ€™t play that match because frankly, after the tiresome weekend we had had, the team didnâ€™t have the steam to play another match especially after university. The tournament ended on a positive note for us, as we were able to discover the potential and talent among the freshmen waiting to be groomed. We have got everything a team representing any university dreams of: a sports coordinator whose contacts can get us into all kinds of tournaments, a talented and well-respected coach, a line up of athletes with spunk, energy and determination, a home-court. Our university has the necessary resources to ensure that a fighting, competent team represents its name in the upcoming tournaments. What is required is the co-operation of our universityâ€™s management and a little flexibility in its policies.