Ajay Pratap Singh of Chhattisgarh (in blue) drives against 7 footer Akashdeep Hazra of Indian Railways.

Ajay Pratap Singh of Chhattisgarh (in blue) drives against 7 footer Akashdeep Hazra of Indian Railways.

[Gopalakrishnan R & Vishnu Ravi Shankar] Bhilwara, Rajasthan: The 65th Senior National Basketball Championship 2014 tipped off earlier this morning in Bhilwara, Rajasthan. The Championship is being organised by the Bhilwara District Basketball Association in collaboration with the Rajasthan State Basketball Association under the aegis of Basketball Federation of India and IMG-Reliance.

27 men’s teams and 24 women’s teams are participating in this event that will be played in a league-cum-knockout format.

Teams gather for the opening ceremony. 28th December will henceforth be celebrated as "Indian Basketball Day" in the memory of the late Shri Harish Sharma, former CEO of BFI.

Teams gather for the opening ceremony. 28th December will henceforth be celebrated as “Indian Basketball Day” in the memory of the late Shri Harish Sharma, former CEO of BFI.

The teams have been divided into two levels: the upper Level 1 and lower level 2. Level 1 teams have further been split into two groups (A and B) while Level 2 teams have been split into four groups. The top four teams from each Level 1 group and the top team from each of the four Level 2 groups will qualify for the knockout stages. A separate knockout tournament (called “Losers Knockouts”) will also be held for the 2nd and 3rd placed teams from each of the four lower level groups that will be knocked out of the main tournament.

Karnataka men surprised Kerala in their opening encounter of the 65th Senior National Basketball Championship 2014. The athletic Karnataka side led by centre Arvind proved too quick for the ageing Kerala squad. Arvind’s 31 points included multiple in game dunks that energised his side.

Arvind of Karnataka scores against Kerala (in white).

Arvind of Karnataka scores against Kerala (in white).

Defending women’s champions Chhattisgarh kept Maharashtra at bay to start its title defence on a high. Unfortunately, men’s defending champions Tamil Nadu fell to a full strength Uttarakhand side that had international centre Amrit Pal Singh showcase a mammoth performance on both ends of the floor with his tireless rebounding and excellent mid range shooting touch.  In other Level 1 matches, the Southern women from Kerala and Tamil Nadu registered easy wins over Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh respectively, and Indian Railways men beat Chhattisgarh in a tight 76-66 match.

Among the lower level teams, Assam women beat Odisha in a cliff-hanger, winning 54-53, and their male counterparts too handed Odisha another defeat winning 78-62. Surprising lower level teams Madhya Pradesh women and Maharashtra men too started their 2014 campaign with assured wins over Chandigarh and Madhya Pradesh respectively.

Women's All Star team.

Women’s All Star team.

Last evening, the Indian basketball fraternity celebrated ‘India Basketball Day’ on the occasion of late Shri Harish Sharma’s birth anniversary. Shri Harish Sharma was the ex-CEO of Basketball Federation of India at the time of his passing in 2012. Senior BFI officials such as RS Gill, Ajay Sud, Nandini Basappa, K Govindraj, PJ Sunny and Naresh Aneja (FIBA Commissioner) spoke on the occasion and recalled Mr Harish Sharma’s contribution to the sport. Mr Sharma was instrumental in inking the long term contract with IMG-Reliance in 2010 that has led to a drastic improvement in facilities for the players, coaches and others involved in the sport.

Men's All-Star Team.

Men’s All-Star Team.

As part of the ‘India Basketball Day’ festivities, two exhibition ‘All-Star’ matches were played that featured the top men and women players in the country. A Slam Dunk contest was also held for the high-fliers in the men’s division which was won by Amjyot Singh from Indian Overseas Bank, Tamil Nadu. Traditional Rajasthani folk dancers entertained the crowd gathered at the event. The Senior National Men’s 3 on 3 team comprising Pratham Singh, Yadwinder Singh, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi and Amrit Pal Singh were felicitated for their silver medal winning effort at the Asian Beach Games earlier this year.

Indian Sr Men's team which got the silver medal at the Asian Beach Games earlier this year.

Indian Sr Men’s team which got the silver medal at the Asian Beach Games earlier this year.

Matches tipped off on the morning of Day 1 of the Championship, with no real surprises in the matches held on the indoor wooden court (Court 1). The Kerala and Tamil Nadu women picked up comfortable wins against opponents Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh respectively. In the men’s matches thus far on Court 1, the Indian Railways withstood a tough fight from the Chhattisgarh team to register a 10-point victory 76-66. M. Mishra top scored for the Railways with a game-high 25 points.

Results from 29-12-2014

Level 1

Women

Men

Level 2

Women

  • Assam (Anjusidhartan 26) bt Odisha (Roli 14, Namrata 13) 54-53 [9-13, 14-10, 15-10, 16-20]
  • Himachal Pradesh (Manorama 21, Naina 19, Balvinder Kaur 13) bt Bihar (Priyanka 14, Shravanti 13) 60-37 [9-13, 12-11, 19-11, 20-2]
  • Madhya Pradesh (Sakshi Pandey 12, Rimpy Hooda 10, Monica Gurjar 10) bt Chandigarh (Gulwalia 13) 54-20 [17-8, 17-3, 11-9, 9-0]

Men

  • Chandigarh (Maninder Singh 17, Navjot Singh Sandhu 13, Atul Singh 13) bt Bihar (Yogesh Kumar 15) 69-47 [11-10, 19-17, 19-10, 20-10]
  • Uttar Pradesh (Akash Bhasin 18, Rakesh Kumar 12, Ashutosh Kumar 7) bt Himachal Pradesh (Deepak 14, V Chauhan 9)71-48 [16-4, 14-18, 21-11, 20-15]
  • Assam (Pradeep Kumar 27, Narendra Kumar 18, Brijmohan Sharma 13) bt Odisha 78-62 [16-21, 22-18, 19-8, 21-15]
  • Maharashtra (Raj Kalbhor 27, Amit Gahlot 20) bt Madhya Pradesh (Harendra Singh 23, Ankit Panigrahi 21) 75-66 [22-20, 15-15, 21-19, 17-12]