Basketball in specific, sports in general and life in its entirety; these three can be approached in 2 ways: all or nothing. This Pool-B encounter between the most successful team in RMBT history, IOB and the defending champions Western Railway, was definitely of the latter variety. It was an insipid display of going through the motions. IOB had already qualified for the knockout stages of the tournament, having beaten the competitive Indian Air Force team and the minnows in the group, Maharashtra. But Western Railway at least had a lot to play for. A win for them would have forced a triple tie in their Pool, with IOB, Air Force and Western Railway all on 2 wins and 1 loss. The 2 teams going through would then have had to be decided on margin of victory and total points scored. It would have kept the scorers and organizers busy with their calculators, and kept all followers of RMBT 2013 on tenterhooks. All this is hypothetical of course. What really transpired on court was something unfathomable.
Western seemed disinterested in registering a must needed win. They led half-way through the first quarter, 8-4, but in the next 10 minutes till midway through the second quarter, they couldn’t score a single point. Yes, a golden duck for the duration of an entire quarter! By half-time, IOB led 27-10; at the end of the third quarter, the score read 39-18 in favour of IOB and by the final whistle, the bankers from down south had won 43-28. The young IOB guard Pratham Singh was the only bright spot in this otherwise dull encounter. He had 18 points, which included 4 three pointers. IOB now play Punjab in the second semi- finals (20th April, 7:00 PM). Western Railway will head back home with a lot to think about.
No. 15 Pratham Singh of IOB came out firing in the first quarter. He was aggressive in his drives to the basket, and also played excellent defence, altering shots of the opposition players with his athleticism and upper body strength. He has finally found his shooting rhythm just in time for the knock out stages. He was 4 of 7 from deep.
WR’s shooting woes: With their most accurate shooter, Jasjot Singh, sitting out this game with a recurring knee injury, Western Railway struggled with their outside shooting. As a team they were 0 of 13 from long distance. They were missing the ring by miles.
Railway didn’t have a single player who could pressure the paint. Their bigs preferred to spot up from mid range or else resort to turnaround fadeaway jumpers.