Tamil Nadu boys upset last year’s runner-up Punjab 97-82 and entered the Level I quarterfinals of the 65th National junior basketball championship with an all-win record from Group ‘B’ here on Friday evening. Punjab led in the first two quarters but TN, third last year, turned the match sharply in the third quarter, during which forward Muin Bek scored three successive three-pointers helping his team take the session 31-10. Muin Bek went on to score 38 points in the match while G. Jedidiah lent solid support with 19.
“With Maharashtra shocking Punjab in our group earlier, we were not under any pressure today,” said C. Thinakaran, the TN coach, after the game.
Punjab had junior international Gurvinder in its ranks but TN kept its rival under pressure in the last quarter, taking a 12-point lead with five minutes to go and hanging on to it smartly.
The TN point guard G. Sivaram was in fine nick, intercepting passes and quickly feeding his teammates while centres Jeya Venkatesh and M. Harish performed their roles impressively.
The results: Boys, Level I (elite level): Group A: Haryana 98 (Jasbir 22, Vishal 20, Rahul Sharma 18) bt MP 86 (Shubham 34, Laxman Thapa 25, Bhrigendra 16). Group B: Karnataka 84 (Sachin 30, Sowkin Shetty 24) bt Odisha 61 (Shahid Khan 24, Md S. Hussain 22); Tamil Nadu 97 (Muin Bek 38, G. Jedidiah 19, Harish 12) bt Punjab 82 (Arshpreet 16, Dildar 15, S. Gurvinder 14). Girls, Level I: Group A: Chhattisgarh 107 (Sangeeta Kaur 31, Sharanjeet Kaur 29) bt UP 50 (Barkha Sonkar 15); Tamil Nadu 82 (Srividhya 24, Sharmila 10) bt Punjab 35 (Gagandeep 10). Group B: Haryana 74 (Bharti 29, Prince 22) bt Rajasthan 61 (Nisha Sharma 21, Kamleesh 21); Maharashtra 69 (Ishwari Pingle 15, Sruthi Menon 11, Mugdha 10) bt MP 45 (Sakshi Pandey 23).
Keywords: National junior basketball championship