Press Release: Defending champions Sportspower, USA suffered their second consecutive defeat and made an exit from the UPL-9th Savio Cup All-India Basketball Tournament, sponsored by Tridhaatu Realty and Indian Oil and being organized by the Don Bosco Recreation Centre.
Sportspower, who came into this match following a defeat to Services earlier in the group, required a win to stay in contention for a place in the final. They started on a positive note and were well on course to achieve their objective as at the end of the third quarter, they were marginally ahead at 58-56. However, they were unable to stave off the late fight back from Punjab and went down 67-79 in a pulsating contest at the floodlit Don Bosco High School courts, Matunga on Wednesday evening.
Despite not being at full strength, the American team, who were forced to include two Indian players to make up the numbers, showed great character and combined well as a unit. Reed Baker played a pivotal role, orchestrated the attacks to set up Jahazeil Howard (21 points) and Prakash Mishra (27) to find the hoop with consistent regularity. Howard also entertained the crowd as he broke through the rival defences with some brilliant drives. He and Baker joined hands to support Richard Mahler who played a key role at the back. The Indians, too, did a good job. Mishra from Madhya Pradesh top-scored and Delhi’s Vinay Kaushik was instrumental in forcing a couple of turnovers.
In contrast, Punjab were content to play second fiddle, but ensured they kept pace with the Americans. However, in the final quarter, Punjab upped the ante and changed tactics, which worked to their advantage. With a little less than five minutes remaining on the clock and the scores tied at 61-all, Punjab on the counter scored three quick baskets to take a crucial 67-61 lead. Thereafter, they kept their nerves and maintained the lead to emerge victorious.
In women’s competition, Southern Railway, Tamil Nadu, registered its second successive win defeating Chhattisgarh by a close 72-71 margin. The Tamil Nadu side, which has a match in hand against Maharashtra, is now assured of a place in Saturday’s final.
This was the second straight defeat for Chhattisgarh, which had earlier lost to Maharashtra 66-77.
Later, in an inconsequential men’s Group-A match, Income Tax put it across Maharashtra, winning 79-74 after leading 47-33 at the break.
Results – Women’s league: Southern Railway 72 (S. Kokila 27, Neena Hareendran 17, Raja Priyadarshini 10) beat Chhattisgarh 71 (Pushpa M 17, Anjana Ekka 15, Poonam Chaturvedi 14, Bharti Netam 12, Akansha Singh 11). Half-time: 36-30.
Men’s league (Group-B): Punjab 79 (Arjun Singh 24, Inderbir Singh 17, Gurvinder Singh 11, Palpreet Singh 11) beat USA 67 (Prakash Mishra 27, Jahaziel Howard 21). Half-time: 38-45.
Group-A: Income Tax 79 (Dishant Shah 21, S. Ramkumar 17, P Boppanna 16, Pravin Dovan 13) beat Maharashtra 74 (Amit Gahlot 22, Raj Kalbhor 16). Half-time: 47-33.