Uttarakhand comes up with yet another spirited display
Experience has the last word. Often.
Pratham Singh asserted his immense experience as he sank a three-pointer, as seconds were running out on the clock, to clinch a thriller for Tamil Nadu 66-59 in extra-time over defending champion Uttarakhand, after the teams had been locked 57-57 at the end of regulation period in the IMG-Reliance 64th National basketball championship on Thursday.
For a team that had scored only three points for about 15 minutes, on resumption in the second half, after it had enjoyed a 38-30 lead at half-time, Tamil Nadu showed a lot of urgency in the climax.
Uttarakhand had scored 21 points in that period of inaccuracy of Tamil Nadu. Pratham had earlier converted two free-throws to consolidate a slender one-point lead.
With A. Aravind missing a last gasp attempt before full time and being taken away as he could not get up after crashing on to the court, Tamil Nadu pressed C.V. Dinesh into service, before replacing him with Pratham. It was a decisive stroke of substitution.
It was a commendable performance by Uttarakhand as it rallied strongly despite missing some leading players, including Vishesh Bhriguvanshi. However, Amritpal Singh, Riyazuddin, S. Sridhar, Shabeer Ahmed and Yadwinder Singh played through the match, including the extra time, to make a fight of it.
Tamil Nadu owed its score mainly to S. Prasanna who top-scored with 21 points, and it was he who scored two successive baskets to get the lead for Tamil Nadu in extra time.
Aravind played an all-round game, scoring 13 points along the way.
Though it is a setback for Uttarakhand, after its victory over Railways, the team has showed that it has the capacity to fight on against the best teams.
The results (league): Men: Group A: Tamil Nadu 66 (S. Prasanna 21, A. Aravind 13, Pratham Singh 10) bt Uttarakhand 59 (Amritpal Singh 26, Riyazuddin 11, Yadwinder Singh 10).
Group B: Kerala 65 (Albin Babu 16, T.S. Abhilash 14, Basil Phillip 11) bt Andhra Pradesh 62 (L. Suith Reddy 20, K. Mohammad 14, S. Nihal Yadav 11); Punjab 92 (Palpreet Singh 29, Ranbir Singh 23, Amritpal Singh 19, Gurvindeep Singh 18) bt Rajasthan 78 (Vinod Kumar 22, Harsh Vardhan 16, Kamran Khan 14, S. Parthasarathi 12).
Women: Group A: Delhi 77 (Raspreet Sidhu 22, Prashanti Singh 18, Sonika Ohlyan 11, Manauti Passi 11) bt Karnataka 58 (L. Kruthika 19, P.U. Navaneetha 13)
Group B: Maharashtra 72 (Kritika 27, B. Sangeetha 16, Shireen Limaye 11, Kenny Susan 10) bt Punjab 61 (Kiranjit Kaur 16, Nirmal Kaur 15,
Nagma Mirza 15); Chhattisgarh 76 (Bharti Netam 15, Poonam Chaturvedi 13, Seema Singh 13, Kavita 12) bt Madhya Pradesh 35 (Sakshi Pandey 14).