With a majority (seven) comprising fresh faces, the Tamil Nadu team is in a phase of rebuilding. The youngsters showed that they are equal to the task with a fantastic performance (82-69) against Indian Railways, the defending champion, in a men's Group 'A' men's match of the 62nd senior National basketball championships at the Nehru indoor stadium here on Saturday.
This is the host's second successive win in the league. Tamil Nadu started off shakily. Shooter Rikin Pethani was off-colour and the team just couldn't get his act together. Gagandeep Singh, Jasjot Singh and Dilawar Singh proved to be the main scorers for the Railways. Trailing 15-28 in the first quarter, Tamil Nadu slowly began to find its rhythm. Sidheek Razak's two pointer enabled Tamil Nadu level the scores at 33-33 in the second quarter. At half time, TN led 44-43.
With Tamil Nadu leading by a point at 70-69 towards the end, Gagandeep was evicted as he had finished his quota of five baskets. Raghu Ram and Rikin's two pointers took TN to a 74-69 lead with hardly two minutes remaining. Praveen Kumar, the ball handler, mesmerised the defence with his feigning and lay-ups. Forced to keep its two key players — Yadwinder Singh and Vishesh Bhriguvanshi out — Uttarakhand was all charged-up and keen to prove a point and it did that in style with a facile 87-52 win over Chhattisgarh in a Group ‘B' tie.
That Trideep Rai is a class player requires no reiteration. When he is in a zone, the baskets just keep coming like torrents. There wasn't a quarter when Trideep didn't make his mark felt. His 34 points in the match including seven three-pointers was instrumental in Uttarakhand scripting a victory by a huge margin.
After much drama and suspense over the last two days, Uttarakhand finally opted to play without key players Vishesh Bhriguvanshi and Yadwinder Singh against Chhattisgarh in the 62nd senior National basketball championships here on Saturday.
After Friday night's controversy where Uttarakhand came back for the last match of the day (at 10 p.m.) against Delhi and insisted that they field the two players despite the Basketball Federation of India persisting otherwise, Uttarakhand on Saturday said it has reversed its stand for “the cause of basketball.”
Both teams were on court, but with Uttarakhand adamant, BFI decided to forfeit the match resulting in Delhi gaining two points and Uttarakhand none.
With Western Railways refusing to give NOC to the two for reasons best known to their higher authorities, BFI had no choice but to put its foot down. It was reliably learnt that Yadwinder and Vishesh had submitted their resignations around five months back.
The results: Level I: Men: Group ‘A': Kerala 83 (Ajit VG 21, Udrick 13) bt Andhra Pradesh 54 (Naveen 13).
TN 82 (Sidheeq Razak 10, Mihir Pandey, Pratam Singh 21) bt Indian Railways 69 (Gagandeep Singh 25, Dilawar Singh 10). Group ‘B': Uttarakhand 87 (Trideep Rai 34, Mohit Bhandari 20) bt Chhattisgarh 52 (Ajay Pratap Singh 17); Punjab 96 (Jagdeep Singh 21, Talwinderjit Singh 14) bt Services 69 (Narender Kumar Grewal 23, D. Kumar 11).
Women: Group ‘A': Chhattisgarh 85 (Kavita 19, Seema Singh 17) bt MP 63 (Deepika David 21, Madhu Sharma 17).
Indian Railways 92 (Geethu Anna Jose 24, P. Anita 19, Anju Lakra 8) bt Maharashtra 56 (Shireen Limaye 18, Kritika Divadkar 12).
Group ‘B': Andhra Pradesh 67 (Manda Meshram 15, Aashna Ujwaney 15, Dhanya 13) bt Rajasthan 47 (Kavita Saini 11, Purjima Chouhan 10). Level II: Men: ‘C': HP 80 (Surjeet Singh 29, Ashok Kumar 16, Dilip Kumar 12) bt J&K 69 (Iqbal Singh 23, Shubam Sharma 16).
Women: 'F': Uttarakhand 48 (Bhavna 14, Aishwarya Nandini 14) bt Assam 33 (Garge Bhuyan 18).
West Bengal 68 (Priyanka Kumari 13, Sukurmoni Oranon 12, Arundhaty Banerjee 11, Poushali Dutta 10) bt Bihar 36 (Mridula James 14, Aarti Singh 13).