Hot favourite Indian Overseas Bank (Chennai) came out with its guns blazing to shoot down Customs and Central Excise (Kochi) 68-37 in a quarterfinal clash of the all India invitational basketball tournament for men at the VOC Park Corporation Sports Complex courts here on Friday.

The win came as no surprise as IOB had some of the country’s best in the business in its line-up. Central Excise, on the other hand, had just a handful of them. Also, the absence of its star players such as Basil Philip, Monish Wilson and a few others due to injury hurt the team much. But they braved the situation well and put up a stiff fight in the first two quarters. But IOB was quite strong in its defence.

The team also had mighty attackers in Rikin Pathan (26 pts) and Amjyoth Singh (20). The duo found the range time and again and knocked down points with ease. But, that did not deter the Kochi men. They left behind early nerves and played well as a unit. It helped the team stay afloat for some time.

Raises the level

IOB raised the level of its game in the last two quarters. The digital clock stopped ticking for ‘various’ reasons. The referees did not mind much but the Bank men went about doing their job in a dutiful manner. All the players added valuable contribution both offensively and defensively. And, the team finished the third quarter strongly at 59-27.

The fourth belonged to IOB as well. The Kochi men tried to close the gap but failed miserably in their effort.

“I am pleased with the win. The Kochi men could do maximum damage when on a three-pointer spree. So we played a wait and watch game. We took a comfortable lead and then tested our bench,” said Azeez Ahmed, the IOB coach.

The results:

Quarterfinals: IOB 68 (Rikin Pathan 26, Amjyoth Singh 20) bt Customs & Central Excise (Kochi) 37 (Manoj 12).

League: RCF (Punjab) 66 (Harshvardhan 16) bt Customs & Central Excise 46; Indian Army (Delhi) 68 (Jiju 14) bt South Zone Police (Madurai) 28.

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