Defending champion Tamil Nadu’s absence has reduced the women’s competition to an eight-team affair in the 28th Federation Cup basketball championship to be held here from January 4 to 9.

Seven State teams and one institutional unit — Southern Railway — will take part in the event being supported by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) and IMG-Reliance.

Maharashtra, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Punjab, Karnataka and Gujarat will vie for honours along with Southern Railway, which is the inter-Railway champion.

“The Tamil Nadu players are in the Southern Railway squad and hence the State has not fielded a team here,” said Shafit Shaikh, organising secretary.

Maharashtra, runner-up in the 2013 edition in Bangalore, will face third-place finisher Kerala in Group A action on the opening day while Delhi meets Punjab in Group B.

The nine-team men’s competition is expected to be an exciting affair, featuring India stars like Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, Yadvinder Singh, Trideep Rai, Amritpal Singh, and Riken Penthani.

ONGC (Uttarakhand), the defending champion, will take on North Frontier Railway before IOB, losing finalist last year, tests itself against Bhavnagar district, Gujarat.

Both events will be played on a league-cum-knockout format, with the champion taking home Rs. 1,00,000, the runner-up Rs. 75,000 and the third-place finisher, Rs. 50,000.

The teams:

Women: Maharashtra, Kerala, Southern Railway, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Delhi, Karnataka and Gujarat.

Men: ONGC, IOB, Bhilai Steel Plant, North Frontier Railway, BSF, Central Excise (Kerala), Sikar (Rajasthan), Army Red (Services) and Bhavnagar (Gujarat).

More In: Other Sports | Sport