Puducherry, 14th January 2017: After seven days of hard-fought, quality basketball action, there were only four teams left standing on the final day evening. Finalists last year, the Kerala women squared off against dark horse Telangana in the women’s final, while familiar foes Uttarakhand and Tamil Nadu battled for gold in the men’s final.
Ms Kiran Bedi, Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry, was the chief guest for the women’s finals between Kerala and Telangana, and distributed the trophies, medals and cash prizes.
Shri V Narayanasamy, Chief Minister of Puducherry was the chief guest for the men’s finals between Uttarakhand and Tamil Nadu.
In both men and women sections, the winning team received a cash prize of Rs 2,00,000/-, the first runners up Rs 1,00,000/- and the second runners up were awarded Rs 50,000/-.
A felicitation ceremony was also held for the Indian national men’s squad which finished a historic 7th at the 2016 FIBA Asia Challenge (in Iran in September) and won a bronze medal at the 21st Super Kung Sheung Cup 2016 (in Hong Kong in December). The FIBA Asia Challenge squad won a total cash prize of Rs 5,00,000/-, while the Hong Kong contingent received Rs 1,45,000/-.
Kerala win gold after 32 years
Known for producing some of the best women playing talent in India’s basketball history, Kerala always ended up falling short at the Senior National Championship. Today, the team between them and the gold medal was Telangana – a team which not many people expected to make the finals. This is the farthest the Telangana women’s team has reached in its short history at the Senior Nationals.
As has been the case with most of their games thus far, Telangana women got off to a good start showing Kerala that they were not ready to be pushed over. Relying on ball movement and team play, Telangana were able to find open shots in the early going. Contributions came from their entire starting five, while their rebounding was a complete team effort as well.
The first half belonged to Telangana, who were led by the scoring of Gayatri (18 points) and Ramya (15 points). On the defensive end, Telangana forced the Kerala attack into tough shots. One of India’s best players and Kerala superstar Jeena Scaria was quiet in the first two periods. At half time, Telangana were up by 8 points (34-26).
In the second half, the experienced Kerala team slowly starting clawing their way back into the game. Kerala’s deep bench was a huge advantage in today’s match, scoring 29 points compared to no scoring from Telangana’s bench. Kerala coach Stephan Antony rotated his players well, giving adequate breathers to his stars. Kerala started scoring in bunches and the fatigued Telangana starters lost a step in the second half. Grima Merlin (10 points) and Rojamol (10 points) provided the necessary offensive spark from the bench, outrunning the Telangana players and getting easy transition buckets.
But Telangana was still up by 5 points entering the fourth quarter. That’s when Jeena took over the game. Kerala kept feeding her in the post and she put her versatile face-up mid-range game on display. Jeena ended up with 20 points in the game, including 8 crucial fourth quarter points to put Kerala ahead. Kerala clamped down on Telangana on the defensive end restricting them to only 8 fourth quarter points. Telangana finally ran out of gas and Kerala pulled away to clinch a historic 68-59 win, winning the Senior Nationals after a gap of 32 years!
Uttarakhand crowned champions
Old rivals Uttarakhand and Tamil Nadu faced each other one more time to decide the ultimate champion at the 67th Senior National Basketball Championship. The last time these two teams met, Uttarakhand stole the win from Tamil Nadu with a 5-0 run in the final seconds. This time around, Tamil Nadu, backed by massive home support, wanted a different outcome.
In the first period, it was India centre Amritpal Singh who provided the early offense, muscling his way to the basket. Tamil Nadu found it difficult to contain Amritpal and suffered from early foul trouble. Both forward Vineeth Mathew and guard Prasanna Venkatesh picked up 2 early fouls each. Tamil Nadu struggled on the offensive end in the first quarter, managing to score only 9 points. Tamil Nadu’s India international Pratham Singh was unable to knock down his outside shots.
Things turned around in the second quarter for Tamil Nadu led by bench players Muin Bek and Jeevanantham. Tamil Nadu opened the second quarter with a 13-0 run, wresting back the lead in their favour. Starting on the defensive end, Jeevanantham acted as rim protector, getting multiple swats on the Uttarakhand players. His defensive aggression sparked his game on the offensive end as well as he hit turnaround jumpers and had offensive put-backs. Guard Muin Bek quickened the offensive pace for Tamil Nadu, leaking out in transition for easy buckets.
Uttarakhand entered the second half down by 5 points. Jeevantham continued to remain hot in the third period along with Akilan who hit timely buckets to keep Tamil Nadu slightly ahead. But Vishesh started finding his touch and forward Yadwinder Singh came off the bench to ignite his Uttarakhand team. Uttarakhand kept pace with Tamil Nadu and were poised for a fourth quarter push.
In the final period, it was big man Amritpal’s game all the way. He was too big to contain and his solid post skills were tough to handle for Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu’s backup centre Jeevanantham fouled out of the game and the rest of their frontcourt were undersized against Amritpal. The India starting centre put the team on his back on his way to a monster double-double of 34 points and 20 rebounds. Tamil Nadu lost steam in the dying minutes and Uttarakhand, once again, came from behind to close out on a 68-60 win to be crowned national champions.
Kerala (Jeena PS 20, Rojamol G 10, Anjana PG 10, Greema Merlin 8) bt Telangana (M. Gayatri 16, Ramya R. 15, Suganya 12, Aishwarya Nataraj 8) 68-59 (14-19, 12-15, 20-17, 22-8)
Uttarakhand (Amritpal Singh 34, Yadwinder Singh 9, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi 8) bt Tamil Nadu (P. Jeevanantham 12, Rikin Pethani 10, H. Muin Bek 10, P. Akilan 7) 68-60 (23-9, 5-24, 15-13, 25-16)
Morning Results from 14th January 2017
3rd & 4th Place Match:
Indian Railways (Navaneetha PU 21, Sruthi Menon 16, Madhu Kumar 15, Sitamani Tudu 11) bt Chhattisgarh (Poonam Chaturvedi 31, Sangeeta Kaur 13) 84-77 (25-18, 17-15, 25-14, 17-30)
3rd & 4th Place Match:
Punjab (Talwinder Jit Singh Sahi 21, Rajveer Singh 18, Gurvinder Singh Gill 16, Arshpreet Singh Bhullar 14) bt Rajasthan (Vinod Kumar 22, Sharad Dadhich 18, Mohamad 13) 88-70 (22-22, 23-9, 18-17, 25-22)
5th & 6th Placement Match:
Kerala (Albin Baby 28, Akhil AR 21) bt Haryana (Vikas Kumar 15, Pardeep Chauhan 12) 64-54 (17-15, 18-16, 16-13, 13-10)
7th & 8th Placement Match:
Indian Railways (Somvir Chahal 37, Vijender Kumar 24) bt Karnataka (Anil Kumar BK 22, Mufeez Ahmed 14) 89-72 (14-13, 23-16, 23-31, 29-12)
Pending result from 13th January 2017
5th & 6th Placement Match:
Tamil Nadu bt Delhi (Forfeit)