“Most of our players still do not know how to play zone defense,” Siddharth Bhandari, Class of 2020, a starting player on one of the Swish-A-Thon finalist teams: Bhandari Bois, said.
Bhandari Bois comprised of a member of the Win Mumby team, three players in the senior team, and four players who have never played competitive basketball.
In response to his team’s violations and lack of overall basketball knowledge, Bhandari, a member of the Senior basketball team and a player in the Win Mumby roster, laughed and teased his friends on the team.
“Bhatia and I got a lot of three-second violations. But no one got mad. We were just laughing,” Armaan Batra, Class of 2020, said.
A strategy is crucial for any team to win in any competitive tournament. But for Bhandari Bois, one of this year’s finalists, it wasn’t.
“We didn’t have a strategy. We just played for fun,” Bhandari said.
Siddharth Bhandari, Class of 2020
Despite the lack of basketball knowledge and skill for some of the members of the team, Bhandari Bois was a top competitor in this year’s Swish-A-Thon.
Bhandari Bois started the tournament strong, winning all four of their group-stage games, and qualifying for the semi-final with ease. The real struggle came in the semi-finals, against the mighty Senior team: Nicer guys.
Nicer guys was, according to many, the top and most likely team to win the tournament. The starting five consisted of Karma Dhonden (Keldo), Tenzin Yugyel Norbu, Jaydeep Bajwa, Jinhwan Lee and Sahil Mark Jacob, all fall from the Class of 2019.
Three out of five of those players are in the Win Mumby team; the team with the best players at the school.
Batra was primarily concerned with Dhonden in the upcoming semi-final. He had completely given up on the idea of winning and even told Dhonden that he and the rest of his team would be trolling because they had no chances of winning.
But Keldo did not want them to troll.
“Keldo told me to play seriously because it was a semi-final game,” Batra said.
The match began and the two teams entered the court; on the left, entered Bhandari Bois, and on the right entered Nicer Guys.
The starting 5 for the Bhandari Bois consisted of the following players:
- Siddharth Bhandari, Class of 2020, Win Mumby player
- Rohan Mathias, Class of 2020, Senior-team player.
- Rishabh Poddar, Class of 2020, Senior-team player.
- Aryan Samji, Class of 2020, Senior-team player
- Armaan Batra, Class of 2020, inexperienced player
Before the game began, Bhandari Bois huddled on the court for what they thought might be the last time. This huddle was not just for the team though, they invited all of the boys from the Class of 2020 to join them.
They knew their chances of winning were slim, but instead of whining about it, they pumped themselves with confidence when Palden Gonsar, Class of 2020, energetically chanted, “What’s the time,” and then all of the boys would scream “Bhandari time!”
It was minutes before the game started and the crowd was nervous. Could Bhandari Bois, an underdog team filled with inexperienced players, actually win this one?
The game started and Bhandari Bois arguably played their best game in the tournament. Bhandari made threes left and right. Mathias’s and Batra’s defense was at its best. Poddar made several crucial shots inside the paint. Samji looked for steals and turnovers.
Nicer Guys responded with a similar thirst to win. They made their shots and collected their rebounds to maintain the intensity throughout the game.
The crowd roared as the team leading (at that point) shifted with each change in possession.
And as the game came down to the wire, Nice Guys took a loss against Bhandari Bois (26-27).
“I was shocked. I just couldn’t believe we beat, what I think, is the greatest team in Swish-A-Thon. I even cried after the game ended,” Poddar said.
“The best feeling ever,” Batra said reflecting upon the great semi-final-win. “This feeling, no one can take it away from me,” he added.
Batra believes the team’s success is largely due to the continuous support from his grade.
“Our whole grade was there supporting us with the drums, and that pumped me go the extra mile and convinced me that we would actually beat nicer guys,” Batra said.
Although Bhandari Bois did not win the finals, Batra and Bhandari do not regret making a troll team. In fact, it motivated them to participate in next year’s Swish-A-Thon.
“Next year we are coming full force with jerseys. We are going to lift the cup. And we are going to bring it home to Adcresco,” Batra said.
Ryan Bajaj is a staff reporter for The Woodstocker
Photos by Mario Aji
Edited by Shivaansh Garg