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15-04-13: Day 2 Action at RMBT 2013 kicked off as Punjab took on Karnataka in the first league game for Pool A. It was a battle of contrasts: north versus south, physique versus finesse, a transition game versus a slowed down half court offense.

In the end Karnataka fell just short, losing 76-71. The match started off sedately with players on both sides slow off the blocks in the lazy heat of Mumbai afternoon. By the end of the second quarter, Punjab slowly started pulling away, opening up a 9-point lead at 32-23.

It was more of the same in the second half of the game, with Punjab’s transition offense and zone defense troubling Karnataka, which struggled with its outside shooting and limited fast break opportunities. No. 12 Amritpal Singh top scored for Punjab with 25 points and Arvind (15) led the Karnataka attack with 30 points.

Key Performances

Young centre Arvind (15) seems to be a promising find for Karnataka. He made up for his skinny build and relative lack of height down low with his high energy game, virtually keeping Karnataka in contention through the first 3 quarters. He had a series of offensive putbacks and baseline up and unders. Also on display was his wonderful footwork. He seems to be a promising talent.

Mr Layup” was how India Coach Scott Fleming was seen describing him from the sidelines. But Punjab no. 12 Amritpal Singh (not to be confused with the other 6 ft 7 inches Amritpal Singh, who is plying his trade elsewhere) had more going to his game than his ridiculous 9 fast breaks. He also managed to knock down a couple of threes.

“Our conversion was poor. We weren’t prepared to play against a zone defense and weren’t able to break their zone. Without fast breaks and outside shooting, there are only so many points you can score in the paint against a zone defense.”

–          Murali Mohan, Karnataka Coach

Jeet gaye to theek hi hain. Aur bhi acchi defensive rebounding karte to aur margin se jeet jaate.”

–          Gurkirpal Dhillon, Head Coach, Punjab is happy with the win and wants to see a greater rebounding effort in the next games

“The match started at a very hot time. I know the other team would have been equally affected, but still…”

–          Murali Mohan, Head Coach, Karnataka, making his displeasure known with the scheduled afternoon start in peak Mumbai heat

Thumbs up

Punjab played the transition game to perfection, converting defense to offense with ease. Karnataka was never really able to contain this onslaught. No defensive balance to speak of.

Punjab’s Zone Defense: Punjab goes against the tenor of the games so far, playing a zone defense through out. This was a good ploy as Karnataka appeared to lack on outside shooting. Karnataka were slow to react and kept trying to force their way in. Not a good idea as they lost the ball which led to at least 6 transition buckets for Punjab.

Karnataka bring in Karan Joshua (11) late in the third quarter. The move immediately paid off as he attacked the offensive glass and got a put back cutting down Punjab’s lead to 4.

Thumbs Down

Turning their backs to the defence: “You should always run backwards once you cross the half court line on your way back to the defensive court”— Karnataka would have done well to remember this school level fundamental. They were caught off guard a number of times in the first quarter as their backs were turned to the offense and they couldn’t see the lob passes made over their heads to the streaking fast breaks specialists on the opposition team. Had they simply faced the opposition offense early, they would have stopped at least 4 transition baskets, which would have turned the match result in their favour.

Karnataka’s poor defensive rebounding: Karnataka were unable to secure the defensive rebounds, players not boxing out. Shouts of baara re! in Kannada exhorting teammates to get back on defence seemed to go unheeded.

Punjab’s Half Court Offense: Punjab appeared unimaginative in their slowed down half court offences against a set defense. Luckily for them, their insatiable appetite to run the break through Ampritpal Singh (12) kept their noses ahead throughout.

Sights and sounds

Spotted! The popular face of the NBA in India Troy Justice, Sr Director Basketball Operations, NBA-India who turned up for the second day running. He was joined by his able deputy Eban Hyams, in his trademark shorts, a chest hugging t-shirt and thick black rimmed shades.

Also Spotted! India Senior Men’s Head Coach Scott Flemming who has just returned from his mini-break in the US and appears ready to get back into the thick of things.

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

Gopalakrishnan R
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