Tamil Nadu warmed up for the tougher challenges ahead with an 85-61 victory over Andhra Pradesh in a Group B men's super league match in the IMG-Reliance 61st National basketball championship at the Talkatora Indoor Stadium here on Tuesday.
On a cold day, made more difficult by a wet spell that forced the organisers to reschedule some of the matches on the outdoor courts at the Modern School, Barakhamba Road, to other indoor venues, Tamil Nadu expressed in clear terms that it meant business.
In fact, it was Andhra which led initially at 17-11, but three-pointers from Mihir Pandey, who eventually top-scored with 24 points, along with an all-round performance from skipper C.V. Dinesh (21) helped Tamil Nadu turn the tide.
The team led comfortably 40-28 at half-time, before cruising to victory.
The Tamil Nadu women also got off to a good start, outclassing Uttar Pradesh 88-34 after leading 46-11 at the interval. Rajapriya Darshini was the top-scorer with 20 points for Tamil Nadu, but all the players got at least two points as the team gave everyone a chance.
Railway women, champion for decades, also scored through every single player in the team, in its crushing 112-48 win over Andhra Pradesh in the opening match of the championship. Skipper Geethu Anna Jose top-scored with 26 points
Last year's runner-up Delhi proved too hot for Punjab, recording a 75-21 victory, with the seasoned Shiba Maggon out-scoring the younger girls with 15 points.
In the men's super league, Uttarakhand, with a clutch of quality players like Shabeer Ahmed, Mohit Bhandari, Trideep Rai, Riyazuddin, Des Raj, Murali Krishna and skipper S. Sridhar, opened its campaign with a 65-39 victory over Karnataka.
Services dominated in the first and third quarters against Kerala in its 85-57 triumph.
In a crucial women's group A encounter, Maharashtra clawed its way back from being 16-17 at halftime to score a resounding 54-43 victory over Kerala, thanks to the efficiency of B. Sangeetha (12). Kerala scored mainly through Lizy Mathew (12) and P. S. Jena (10).
Men: Group A: Uttarakhand 65 (Trideep Rai 17, Riyazuddin 14, S. Sridhar 10) bt Karnataka 39 (A. Arvind 14).
Services 85 (Narender Kumar 27, Jairam Jat 20) bt Kerala 57 (Eudrick Pereira 19).
Group B: Tamil Nadu 85 (Mihir Pandey 24, C.V. Dinesh 21, Pratham Singh 11) bt Andhra Pradesh 61 (Liju 14, Soumya Ranjan 12).
Women: Group A: Railways 112 (Geethu Anna Jose 26, M. Pushpa 17, Ranjini Peter 17, Manisha Dange 11) bt Andhra Pradesh 48 (Mandha Meshram 15, Kawaljit Kaur 11, Anusha Anto 11); Maharashtra 54 (B. Sangeetha 12) bt Kerala 43 (Lizzy 12, Jena 10).
Group B: Tamil Nadu 88 (Rajapriya Darshini 20, N. Owmya 14, Apurva Muralinath 10) bt Uttar Pradesh 34 (Ranjana Singh 17).
Delhi 75 (Shiba Maggon 15, Raspreet Singh 14, Prashanti Singh 13, Akanksha Singh 12) bt Punjab 21.
Keywords: National basketball championship