Principal Correspondent

Manjeri: Alappuzha men overcame host Malappuram 82-68 in the opening match of the Akbar Travels 51st State senior basketball championship at the GBHSS court here on Wednesday.

Alappuzha, which led 63-35 at half-time, withstood a fine rally by the host in the third and fourth quarters to win the encounter which was marked by brilliant shooting by Alappuzha's Bimal Raj who top-scored with 27 points.

Mukesh (21 points) complimented Bimal well and the duo was instrumental in Alappuzha's win.

However, it was Malappuram which led initially. Egged on by the crowd the host raced to an eight-point lead, which turned out be an aberration soon as Alappuzha combined well to take the fight to the enemy camp with fast breaks.

Despite its poor conversion from near the board, Alappuzha was able to pile up the pressure on its rival as both Bimal Raj and Mukesh excelled with their long rangers.

Though, Malappuram excelled in its rebound collection both offensive and defensive the side couldn't cash on to the fast breaks as the players repeatedly fumbled with the ball.

Alappuzha finished the first quarter strongly taking a 25-15 lead. By the end of the second quarter the lead had swelled to 28 points.

The host made a determined effort in the second half as it cut down the errors and appeared far more cohesive that it was in the first half.

Alappuzha was rattled by the fast pace set by Malappuram and conceded a few easy baskets.

And to its credit, Alappuzha reduced the pace of the contest and concentrated more on keeping the ball in play among its players.

Malappuram enjoyed its best phase in the third quarter, where it won 20 points to Alappuzha's 7 but the lead was too much for it to surpass in the last quarter.

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