Sughnani Masterclass Nets DIA Top DASSA Basketball Prize


An emotional Mihail Kouzev praised his player’s focus and professionalism as Dubai International Academy (DIA) came from behind to snatch the U18 DASSA Cup from Dubai College (DC), GYS reports.

The whistle had barely blown for the match to start when Tait reacted first to a loose ball and put DC ahead with 15 seconds on the clock, after some nice work from Sam. DC continued to move the ball around the court in impressive fashion, and, aside from a stunning 3 pointer from Tanishq Sughnani and free throws from Leon and Jalan, DC controlled the first quarter. Baskets from Holt and Huni ensured DC went in ahead at the break.

1st Quarter | DC 14 – 10 DIA

DC came out strong in the second quarter and showed why the Cup has belonged on Hessa Street so many times in recent years. Riordan’s men are a powerful and regimented outfit, moving the ball with purpose whilst clinical on the attack. Keanu was slowly finding his range, orchestrating things from the centre, whilst Sid scored a 3-pointer to put DC firmly in their groove. Michael made amends for a double free throw miss, converting a neat finish from the left after latching on to a rebound.

As the quarter drew to a close Sughnani picked the ball up deep on the left side. He set off on a weaving run, which ended with an salubrious lay-up, after some cute block-work from Jalan. A quite marvellous basket from DIA’s talisman the highlight of an otherwise disappointing quarter for Coach Floyd Payne IIII’s men.

2nd Quarter | DC 32 – 15 DIA

The match, staged at Kent College’s state-of-the-art basketball facility, would have been over had DC started the third the way they did the second. Instead it was the Wolves that looked the brighter, and early baskets from Sughnani, Fenton and Watt gave DIA hopes of an unlikely come back. It took DC six minutes to score a basket in the third, Jake’s tricky dribble and finish was worth the wait and Michael’s double free throw gave DC breathing space again, for a few seconds at least. It was around the half way point in the third that the Sughnani show really started. The 17 year old rising star set off on a series of powerful dribbles, maintaining possession whilst swatting off the DC defence and scoring points what seemed like every 30 seconds. His fourth 3 pointer of the quarter was followed by a lay-up from Jalan, which reduced the deficit to seven, the first time it’d been less than ten since early in the second quarter. The momentum going in to the fourth quarter was with the Wolves, their small travelling support could sense that, and so could everyone in the viewing gallery.

3rd Quarter | DC 46 – 37 DIA

The Wolves came out pumped after Coach Floyd’s animated team talk – they looked like a team ready to win. More magic from Saghnani teed up Watt for a cool finish 20 seconds in to the quarter. The match was swinging from end to end, DC looked tired – Holt, a strong performer in the opening two quarters missed a lay-up, the re-bound of which nestled in to the arms of Govendan, who found Sughnani via Shamsee, down the left. By now we were running out of superlatives for the Indian sensation. With 2 minutes 40 seconds left he burst into the opposition half, darting past a clutch of DC shirts and unleashing a flawless 3-point effort straight into the net, which was met by a deafening roar from the travelling Wolf pack. DIA were in front for the first time and, quite incredibly, another 3 pointer followed 10 seconds later, Sughnani again, giving this school a seven-point advantage with 50 seconds to play. DC piled forward but Holt’s close-range finish with 16 seconds left wasn’t enough.

Full Time | DC 50 – 55 DIA

“Winning the DASSA championship in my final year at school is a dream come true,” said Sughnani. “We kept hustling and playing our own game and were rewarded for that – it’s testament to the work done behind the scenes at DIA. Coach Payne and Mr Mihail are so passionate about our sports programme and that filters down to the athletes.” When asked about his own personal ambitions in the sport, Sighnani said, “I hope to play Division 1 basketball at College in either Canada or the United States – I’m considering my options right now and hope to things confirmed by the holidays.”

DC Head of PE, Daniel Riordan, gracious in defeat, said: “That was a great basketball match. We started well and controlled the game for most of the first half but could have converted more chances. DIA upped their game in the third but I felt we were still in control. In the fourth quarter their star man really stepped up – I thought our defence did well but we stopped scoring ourselves, missing easy baskets. I am proud we reached the final, the boys have worked themselves into the ground this year.”

Coach Floyd, Head of Basketball at DIA, said: I hardly remember a thing other than the opening quarter, it’s hazy, I was so absorbed in the match. I’m so proud of our Wolves today, to come from 18 behind in a final and win takes heart and tenacity; it’s a truly amazing result. I’d like to congratulate DC for being great competitors.”

Mihail Kouzev, Director of Sport at DIA, said: Wow, what a match! This will go down in history for DIA – it reflects the dedication and belief our athletes and staff have in our sports programme. We have put our school on the map today. Most importantly, both teams showed great sportsmanship under pressure.”



DC – Keanu (12) – one of a host of DC players comfortable in possession and clever in the final third. Keanu dictated the play for DC in the opening two quarters. Jake (5) Michael (4) and Huni (28) also performed admirably.

DIA – Tanishq Sughnani is one to watch. Scored 34 of his side’s 55 points in the final and looked dangerous every time he touched the ball. A sublime performance from a young athlete who has the world in hands.


DC – Jake’s tricky dribble and finish in the second quarter had the crowd on their feet.

DIA – Sughnani’s performance in the final 4 minutes of the match. Championships are won or lost when the pressure is on. Two 3-pointers and two pressure free throws in the dying minutes won his team the Cup.