As the RedBull Reign continues in the fourth city in India - Ahmedabad, we speak to the winners of the Chennai qualifiers that was conducted last weekend at the T Nagar Corporation Ground.
Unlike the Bangalore qualifiers, the final in Chennai needed a tiebreaker.
Eventually, Team Phoenix, consisting of Rahul (C), Naveen, Saravana Kumar, Sushil were victorious. They became the second team to book their place in the national finals, set to be held in June in Mumbai.
Celebrating their triumph, the winners spoke to NBA.com/India to share their joy. We asked them about the experience of the tournament, their favorite NBA player, favorite sneaker line, and a lot more.
Check it out:
Q: Was the team you faced the final [Team Excellence] your toughest competition since you needed a tiebreaker to decide a winner?
Rahul: Yes. Since we had faced them in an earlier round and lost 14-4, we were actually asking the organizers if the runners-up also get to go to the national finals. Having come so far, we decided to just give them a good fight.
Actually, Team Excellence was a really good team. They had a current Indian player named Justin, and around him, there was a very balanced side.
So, we ended up scoring more than the earlier game while we were able to restrict Justin, courtesy of my teammate/own brother Sushil. Naveen had put the clamps on their center, so I took it upon myself to score as many baskets as I can.
Sushil: I think our outside shots didn't fall. We played good defence but few things didn't go our way. So, we took those learnings into the finals as we faced Team Excellence again and we ended up winning.
When ti came to the semifinals and Finals, it wasn't important how many points you scored as far as you scored more than your opponent. Whereas, in the group stages, you get extra points if you scored the most points in your pool.
Our main emphasis was to restrict Justin and he was my assignment. We were able to do that and that's what helped us win.
Naveen: We had a lot of silly mistakes and a lack of coordination in the first game. When we focused on these issues and worked on them, we were able to rectify them in the final.
Q: Have you guys played together as a team before this or was this your first time?
Sushil: My brother Rahul, Naveen, and Saravana were all from different colleges but of the same batch. They knew each other for quite a few years before this tournament. My brother and I used to represent our club teams often, so somewhere among the four, there was an understanding already established.
Q: Favorite NBA player and sneaker line?
Rahul: I have two actually - LeBron James and Stephen Curry - and if you ask me one, I will choose Curry. My personal favorites are the Kyrie 4's.
Sushil: Easy answer - Stephen Curry and the Curry's are my favorite sneaker line.
Naveen: All-time is Micheal Jordan but right now, it is LeBron James.
Saravana: Stephen Curry.
Thank you so much guys for taking time to speak to us. We look forward to seeing you guys in Mumbai and wish you all the best for that event.