By Mohsin Ali Sadiq, TS2B
Yes, human sacrifice was made on Saturday, 18th March when the TIP basket-ball team went up against Mehran University in the 1st game of the HEC basket-ball tournament and lost by a score of 23 – 06 or to quote an Urdu saying, “bakre ki balli char gayi”.
Friday started with a lot of confusion when our captain Shayan had to drop out of the squad due to a family emergency. The lineup was short of two regular players as it is and with Shayan gone, the team was left with Aasim Ahmed and yours truly. There was a point in the day, when it was decided that the team wouldn’t go as the players hadn’t had enough practice and we didn’t have a complete starting lineup. The players, all packed up to leave for home, suddenly received the breaking news at the end of the day that TIP is required to participate as we had been given the grand honour of the opening game of the tournament and playing before the chief guests.
Accompanied by tension and drama, our team left for Hyderabad on Friday evening at around 6. The squad was lead by our newly appointed coach Sir Yousuf Khan and consisted of Aasim Ahmed and myself, Amar Ata (TMM-2), Adnan Dohadwala and Saad Siddique (TS-3B), Dara Amir Khan and Haziq of AMM-1 and our beloved cheerleader/photographer Schallim Reuben.
The expectations were low and since we were going just for the sake of participation, we tried to chill out once we got to Hyderabad. Our coach tried to make sure we had a good time and kept our spirits high. I met a few old friends and ex-team mates, which is always good. Friday night was well spent considering the day and the journey we had been through.
Saturday started in similar fashion and we tried to make the best of the breakfast we had and tried not to think about what lay ahead. I knew that we were in an uphill battle but I didn’t know it would be this bad. When we got to the court, I was shocked to find that I had been nominated as the captain of the team. Now I have done a lot to promote this sport in TIP but I never expected it would put such a big responsibility on my shoulders. The match started at around 11 and we had lost it from the beginning. The opposition was an average team and their efforts were ordinary but we were the team that appeared to have no sense of the game whatsoever. We tried playing as a team; rotating the ball, being un-selfish, but we were dis-functional and dis-oriented and made a complete mockery of the sport. Aasim and I tried to make things happen at our end but our attacks were too monotonous for the opposition and we failed to score anything. The 1st quarter ended with the score: Mehran University 6 and TIP nothing.
The 2nd quarter started with a bang: I got hit pretty bad in the groin while trying to block a shot. I was substituted and Amar come into the game. This time around, they weren’t as forgiving as 1st quarter. Yet they were unable to convert many open chances. TIP got possession in bits and pieces but the turnover rate was too high. Amar and Aasim got a couple of free throws but neither of them was able to put points on the board. The half ended with the score: Mehran University 15, TIP 0.
The start of the 3rd quarter was the same: Mehran University had most of the possession but they were continually missing their shots. Atleast they were taking chances unlike us. The only sense of life was coming from our coach Sir Yousuf Khan, who was yelling his heart out to his players, telling them what to do. Then lightening struck and Dara scored for TIP finally breaking the knot. TIP started to get some support from my friends in the crowd when I was sent back in the dying seconds of the quarter. The quarter ended with the score: Mehran University 21, TIP 2.
The last quarter is probably was undoubtedly the most dramatic. Personally speaking, I was tired of being the defensive play-making guard. I hadn’t tried to score once in the game but that was about to change. It took a kick in the groin to tell me it was time the tables turned. And they did, as we somehow clicked as a team out of the blue and suddenly Mehran University started turning over the ball. Amar penetrated the defense like a real pro, Haziq and Aasim stole the ball a few times, Dara got some rebounds and I chipped in with a few steals and a rebound. Still, we were unable to put more points on the board. Thanks to my ex-team mates, the crowd seemed to chant my name every time I got the ball and I thank God I didn’t disappoint them. I got the chance to score late in the 4th quarter. I took two shots and sunk them both down the rim. I roared to the crowd and they responded with a loud cheer. We let Mehran University score only once in the quarter and the match ended with the score: Mehran University 23, TIP 6.
I caught up with my old friends when we went for refreshments and they said I shook the crowd out of their sleep. One of them said that I was the winner in the last quarter. Although what my friend said about me being the winner was actually an attempt to mock me but I hate to admit; the moment felt real nice and I felt good about myself. But it doesn’t undo the fact that the “Capo di tutti capi” failed to deliver. For all those who don’t hang out with Schallim, capo di tutti capi means “the boss of all bosses”.
There were a few setbacks in the match: Aasim penetrated beautifully but was unable to convert the opportunities he got, I got kicked in my nuts before I started producing any results, we were unable to get into the zone with the ball in our hands, there was a lot of confusion among the newly drafted players etc.
In spite of what happened, I will say this: If victory belonged to the spirited, then we were unbeatable that day. But I’m afraid there’s more to a win than just being in high spirits.
PS. Schallim, you’ll always be the real “Capo di tutti capi” 😉