Maharashtra put on a forceful show to outsmart Kerala 76-65 in women’s league action at the 28th Federation Cup basketball championships.

Renu Mourya darted all over the court to plot her team’s victory with slick passing and smart lay-ups.

Shirin Limaye (20) and Shruto Menon (20) got busy under the offensive board as Maharashtra dominated a major chunk of the opening Group A tie at the YMCA International Centre.

Kerala fought back in the fourth quarter (21-22) but the deficit was too big to make an effect on the scoreline. Neenumol (18) and Jeena (13) were on target with fast breakaways, but the opponent proved superior.

Ready for the rival

Maharashtra focused on keeping the rival pivots in check and worked hard. “We were aware that Kerala plays a fast game and were ready for the same,” said the winning team coach Geo Blesson.

The Indian Railways stalwart is in charge till regular Maharashtra coach Abdul Hamid takes over after completing official assignment. “Winning the first match is okay, we need to get sharper,” said Geo.

She had trained with the squad earlier during the camp at Parel, getting a close look at the players’ form. Renu’s mobility and awareness of space stood out, though the Maharashtra coach expected her to maintain concentration. “The players felt the strain after three quarters, we need capable players on the bench.”

Delhi women opened Group B campaign with a 74-48 win over Punjab.

The event is supported by Basketball Federation of India, IMG-Reliance and conducted by Gujarat State Basketball Association.

The groupings:

Men: Pool A: ONGC, Indian Overseas Bank, North Frontier Railways, Bhilai Steel Plant and Bhavnagar District. Pool B: Army Red, Central Excise, Border Security Force and Sikar District.

Women: Pool A: Southern Railways, Kerala, Maharashtra, Gujarat. Pool B: Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Punjab, Karnataka.

The scores:

Men: Pool A: ONGC (Uttarakhand) bt North Frontier Railway 78-52.

Women: Maharashtra 76 (Shirin Limaye 20, Shruti Menon 20) bt Kerala 65 (Neenumol 18, Jeena 13). Delhi 74 (Madhu Kumari 24, Neha 14) bt Punjab 48 (Nirmal 24, Kirandeep 10).

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