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14-04-13: It has begun! The first match of the 28th Ramu Memorial Tournament 2013 tipped-off between Chattisgarh and Maharashtra women at 5 pm.

The opening minutes saw both teams trading baskets at a near 100% field goal percentage. It was only a matter of time though, before Chattisgarh’s superior fitness and defensive pressing turned the game in their favour. Chattisgarh led 14-8 halfway into the first quarter, and would never relinquish the lead for the rest of the game. M Sangeeta top scored for Chattisgarh with 22 points and 12 rebounds, ably assisted by N Pushpa (20) and Sarita P (19).

For Maharashtra, only the veteran international Manisha Dange stood between her team and total annihilation. She recorded a double double with 11 rebounds and 19 points.

Key Performances

The performances of the no. 8s on both teams, the diminutive PG of Chattisgarh Deepa L and the seasoned Manisha Dange for Maharashtra.

Both players dictated their team’s fortunes. The Chattisgarh ball handler showed excellent awareness in controlling the tempo of the game. She pushed the ball whenever she saw an opening and also displayed restraint by slowing the game down and moving the ball to both sides of the floor. She kept her head up and made the opposition team pay for their defensive laziness with her accurate lob passes to her streaking teammates. Also on display was her ability to pass off the dribble with both the right and left hands.

Manisha was irrepressible, doing everything from defensive rebounding to leading the break and knocking down the outside jumper. She also had numerous offensive put-backs by cleaning up her own and her teammates’ misses. Leading from the front all the way, her experience was particularly visible at the end of the second quarter, when she had the presence of mind to launch a half court shot with the clock winding down. The ball barely missed the rim. Had she made it, the match would have been tied at 38 a piece.

Highlight Plays

  1. Maharashtra’s Amrutha Bhuskute (6) in transition: a change of direction step-back jumper that ended with a perfectly executed banked shot.
  2. Aruna K (9), centre of Chattisgarh: a beautiful no look, hand off pass in rhythm to a cutting teammate for the easy bucket.

India mein sabse zyada hamaari team practice karti hain. We were physically fit and strong and our full court press caused them trouble. We are the favourites to win.

–          Iqbal Ahmed Khan, Chattisgarh Head Coach on the chief reasons behind their victory

Manisha was their only shooter. Our plan was to stop only her.”

–          Pushpa Nishad, Captain, Chattisgarh

I want to feed teammates. Feeding + make shots as well. We executed as we had planned.”

–          Deepa L, Chattisgarh Point Guard

Thumbs up

The defensive presence of Chattisgarh: The Chhattisgarh women’s team is legendary for its suffocating trap defense leading to easy transition buckets. They didn’t disappoint in this game as well with numerous fast break opportunities.

Beautiful ball movement and balanced attack of Chattisgarh: The players knew where each other were moving and didn’t settle for the outside jumper. They had 3 players who scored 19 points or more. Another huge advantage was their dominance in the paint, scoring 48 points as against Maharashtra’s 32.

Very few fouls by both teams: In large part due to the run and gun style employed by the two sides. Added to that, the pin point passing by Chhattisgarh and outside shooting by Maharashtra contributed to the low number of fouls conceded by either side.

Thumbs Down

Maharashtra were guilty of settling for too many outside shots throughout the game, especially in the first half. They were unable to dent the defence of Chattisgarh. Their FG % inevitably started to drop. Their lack of bigs down low cost them dearly as they had minimal presence in the paint and their rebounding numbers suffered.

Maharasthra international Shireen Limaye was conspicuously absent from the line up. With her in the squad, there would have been less pressure on Manisha, and a much needed rebounding presence in the side.

Sights and sounds

The mascots make their entry. 2 guys on stilts walk onto the court at halftime. Dressed in red and white pinstriped pyjamas and a matching red t-shirt, the over-sized men throw the ball through the hoop with ease, much to the amusement of the young children watching, who beg for more. Also entertaining the crowd were a giant red bird with a bright yellow beak and what looked like a huge cherry coloured Mickey mouse. You can be sure to see more of these 4 mascots in the days to come.

Spotted, Akash Jain, Senior Director Business Development & Partnerships, NBA India and Troy Justice, Senior Director, Basketball Operations. Scouting for NBA talent perhaps?

This event’s coverage is also available on the official Ramu Memorial website.

Gopalakrishnan R
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