#NSL360: Indian Hoopstar U14 live up to top billing with dominant victory

Jay Asser 16:52 07/06/2015
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Dominant performance: Indian Hoopstar live up to expectations in the finals.

Indian High School Dubai didn’t leave any doubt of their top standing in NSL under-14 as they beat International Choueifat School 31-15 to claim the championship.

After having a strong hold on their age group from the start, IHS finished off their campaign in style on Saturday at Victoria International School Sharjah.

– VIDEO: #NSL360 Basketball Finals – Under-14 Round-Up

– VIDEO: Lavesh Zuting shines in U14 #NSL360 Basketball Final

Despite a defensive gameplan by ISC to neutralise their leading scorer Lavesh Zuting, Indian Hoopstar had more than enough firepower. Ahmed Thahir scored a team-high nine points, while Zuting acted as a facilitator to finish with eight points and two assists.

“It feels great because we performed really well and we got first place. There are no other words for it,” said Zuting.

The point guard walked away with NSL Final MVP for his efforts against ISC and NSL MVP for his marvelous play throughout the tournament.

Having a player who can control the floor like Zuting is a privilege IHS coach Subhash Dhaka is more than happy to have, making life on the sideline easier.

“It’s really easy, no need to do much work. Most of the things, he’ll take on,” Dhaka said of Zuting. “As a player, he’s really growing. When we started, he wasn’t playing as nicely, but he’s worked out hard at school.”

Heading into the match-up, ISC coach Stefanita Buzatu recognised he had to shift more attention to Zuting and while the gameplan relatively limited the guard, Buzatu believes his team ran out of gas on the other end of the floor.

“We worked on our defence to double-team their MVP (Lavesh), the best player of the tournament, and I think we did a great job, but they were very tired on offence,” he said. “We missed a lot of shots.”

The big man duo Kareem Eid and Gohar Hussain pulled down a combined 23 rebounds, but managed just four points total against the interior defence of IHS. Point guard Khalifa Khouri was the catalyst with nine points to lead the way, but the rest of the attack couldn’t find their rhythm.

Despite falling short of the title, Buzatu believes his players have made significant strides and represented Abu Dhabi well.

“We played well throughout the tournament and reached the final undefeated. It’s not easy to finish the season off in the last game, but with all the experience we gained, it was amazing here,” Buzatu said. “Next year, we’ll be back and try to win.”

For Indian Hoopstar, most of their championship-winning players will move up to the under-16 level in next year’s tournament, where Dhaka is confident more success will follow.

Dhaka said: “We’ll win it, I’m sure about it.”

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