Amjyoth Singh and Sivabalan were the heroes as they steered favourite Indian Overseas Bank (Chennai) to a 56-44 win over strong contender ONGC (Dehradun) in the final of the all-India invitational basketball tournament for men here on Sunday.
It was a low-scoring first quarter with only 17 points shared between the teams, which boasted of the best line-up in the country. The defensive skills also came to the fore and neither team could reach the ring. After four minutes of absorbing play, IOB opened its account through Amjyoth. ONGC replied a minute later with Murali Krishna converting two free throws.
Scoring was marginally better in the second quarter. Sivabalan, who replaced an injured Praveen Kumar, did not waste time and scored two baskets in a row. Amjyoth complemented by scoring two more. Trideep Rai, Vishesh Briguvanshi and Murali found their range as well for ONGC but, IOB continued to hold a slight edge (21-18) at the lemon break.
The third and fourth belonged to IOB with ONGC gifting easy opportunities. The bankmen cashed in on the chances that came their way and raced to a 37-28 lead as ONGC looked rattled for the first time in the match.
Amjoyth and Sivabalan continued to harass the ONGC defence as IOB called the shots from there. With five minutes to the final whistle, Vishesh tried his best with a couple of scorching threes, but IOB kept its cool to lift the cup.
IOB’s coach Azeez Ahmed was obviously thrilled. “It was totally defence-oriented. I am really happy the way my men played. Each one of them played their part.”
The results (final): IOB (Chennai) 56 (Amjyoth Singh 17, Sivabalan 12, Hareesh 10) bt ONGC (Dehradun) 44 (Vishesh Briguvanshi 19).