ONGC (Dehradun) used its rich experience to oust an energetic Sathyabama University (Chennai) 79-71 to enter the final of the 47th all India basketball tournament for men for the PSG Trophy at the PSG College of Technology here on Saturday.
ONGC boasted of a wealth of international stars in its ranks. Naturally, nobody gave the Chennai side a chance to rock the giant-killers from Dehradun. Not even its coach Raghukumar. “They are a tough side to beat and I don't expect miracles,” he said at the start.
But the Sathyabama boys had other ideas. They knew it was now or never. Having got the golden opportunity to play in this prestigious tournament as a last-minute replacement for Indian Bank, the young guns from Chennai went full throttle. The crowd tried to roar them to a surprise win but the ONGC men did not panic. They played a cool and calculated game under pressure.
M. Anoop (26 pts) was the day's hero for the winner. Anything he touched turned into precious points for the team. S. Sridhar (15 pts) played his part magnificently as well. The duo came up with surprise ‘layup bombs' from difficult angles.
But Sathyabama did not give up. They fought hard for possession and produced a strong performance that convinced both ONGC and the crowd that it was pretty serious about winning. Ramkumar (21 pts) and Sivabalan (10 pts) showed a fine bit of understanding at the half court.
They caught the ONGC defence napping on a couple of occasions and cut short the lead margin from 30-19 to 37-33 at the halfway mark.
In the third quarter, Sathyabama smelt a winning chance. But, ONGC sprayed baskets with ease through Anoop to crush all hopes. The senior international star handled the situation in a smart manner. With time ticking out, Sathyabama went flat out for one last time but ONGC closed all doors to seal an eight-point win.
“The margin could have been better. It was our height and experience that saved the day for us,” said Suresh Kumar, who played the role of a player and ‘manager' of the team.
Earlier, Southern Railway (Chennai) scored a 55-41 win over South Central Railway (Secunderabad) and entered the final of the 10th all India tournament for the CRI Trophy.
Renji Peter (23) and N. Shyamala turned out to be the chief wreckers for the team. Manda Meshram (12) and Anusha Anto (10) chipped in their part for the loser.
The results (semifinals): Men (PSG Trophy): ONGC (Dehradun) 79 (M. Anoop 26, S. Sridhar 15) bt Sathyabama University (Chennai) 71 (Ramkumar 21, Sivabalan 10).
Women (CRI Trophy): Southern Railway (Chennai) 55 (Renji Peter 23, N. Shyamala 14) bt South Central Railway (Secunderabad) 41 (Manda Meshram 12, Anusha Anto 10).
Keywords: PSG Trophy