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Updated: September 15, 2009 14:21 IST

Geethu Anna Jose: India’s trump card

S. Thyagarajan
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REACHING FOR THE STARS: In this file photo, Geethu Anna Jose of Indian Railways getting past Delhi defence to score a point. Photo: K. Murali Kumar
REACHING FOR THE STARS: In this file photo, Geethu Anna Jose of Indian Railways getting past Delhi defence to score a point. Photo: K. Murali Kumar

Geethu is the lynchpin for the national squad set for the battle in the FIBA-ASIA championship starting on Thursday.

She lends India an image, an identity and an irretrievable ethos for basketball among women. Her exploits continue to evoke eloquent references of class, competence and craft. If India stands counted today on the distaff side of basketball her role has been exemplary.

From the pastoral ambience of Tiruvalla to Kottyam and then to Chennai, China, Japan, across the Orient and to Australia, it has been an eventful journey for Geethu Anna Jose.

The best-known face in the sport today, she is the lynchpin for the national squad set for the battle in the FIBA-ASIA championship starting on Thursday.

Gifted with pronounced natural talent, Geethu would have been an icon in any sport. That the game of basketball gained more by her preference to it than for volleyball and athletics is no exaggeration. In the formative years, indications were clear that she was carved out to excel as an athlete or a volleyball player. Eventually, it was basketball she opted for.

Tall (6’2”), lissome and conspicuously athletic, Geethu is chiselled for her chosen sport. The triumphant moments she has carved out for her in this sport at the age of 24 testify to this. Competitions in around Kerala and at the Assumption College in Chenganachery, in the early stages steeled her into a powerful all-rounder, fit enough to blossom into proficient centre, a position she plays with palpable relish.

Geethu emerged as a junior star in 2002. Her career took the up curve after joining Southern Railway in 2003. Since then, the name is synonymous with basketball. From 2005, she has been in the forefront of India’s campaign in China, Japan, Malaysia and New Zealand.

The finest hour came at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, where she was declared the MVP (Most Valuable Player). Notwithstanding a humiliating 146-46 defeat against the world champion, Australia, India managed to finish sixth among the eight thanks, largely to the steady performance of Geethu.

What really enhanced Geethu’s stature was the invitation from Dandenong Rangers (Melbourne) to play in the AWNBL. As the first Indian in this league, she etched a new script. Yet, her remarkable show at the last edition in Incheon (Korea) confirmed the status of a national icon. Her record-breaking performance of 197 points in six games with 47 as the highest score against Malaysia in the qualifying match set Geethu a class apart from the rest.

It now goes without saying that India’s showing here largely rests on Geethu ’s form. No one has a second opinion on this.

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