ALAPPUZHA: With many seniors leaving for greener pastures last season, Kerala’s basketball fans and officials will be watching the young talent with anxious eyes during the 32nd State junior basketball championship which begins at the Municipal Ground here on Saturday evening.
With professional colleges and banks, mostly from Tamil Nadu, luring its young men with attractive offers, Kerala failed to figure among the top six at the last senior National. But youngsters like Ashin Xavier, Amal James and Arjun Krishna now offer hope.
Malappuram, virtually thriving on borrowed stars, won the boys title last year but this time it is expected to face a strong fight from Alappuzha, Thrissur and Kottayam.
The girls event is also likely to be a four-horse derby between Kottayam, Kollam, Thrissur and Kannur.
K.S. Manoj, MP, will inaugurate the six-day championship tomorrow evening.
The groupings: Boys: Pool A: Malappuram, Kottayam, Thiruvananthapuram, Pathanamthitta; Pool B: Wynad, Kasargod, Thrissur, Kannur; Pool C: Kozhikode, Idukki, Kollam; Pool D: Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Palakkad.
Girls: Pool A: Kottayam, Idukki, Pathanamthitta; Pool B: Kollam, Kozhikode, Ernakulam; Pool C: Kannur, Thiruvananthapuram, Malappuram, Wynad; Pool D: Thrissur, Alappuzha, Kasargod, Palakkad. — Principal Correspondent