26 Dec : Defending champions Indian Railways will have a tough time to retain its place in the men’s section in the 60th National Basketball Championships that will commence here at Ludhiana from Sunday.
Injury to key players, says team coach Ram Kumar, has been a major setback for the title holder.
“Top three players namely Jasjot Singh, Gaganjit Singh and Snehpal that made Railways victory possible in the last edition of the meet held at Surat, will have to watch the meet from the spectators stand,” said the coach on the eve of the competition.
During a warm-up session today, Ram Kumar said, though fresh blood had been infused in the team, but green horns are not as experienced as the three key injured players, which has made task difficult fight for the title. “We will take each match as final. It will be touch,” added the Railways team coach.
Others teams in contention for the title will be Uttarakhand, Services and Tamil Nadu.
Of the three above teams, going by the recent past record in the Federation Cup at Alwar, and Savio Cup at Mumbai, Uttarakhand looks more stronger.
Uttarakhand that has cream of the Indian basketball in its fold, and had been winner of both Federation Cup and Savio Cup.
Winner of bronze in the last edition, Uttarakhand team wants to move up the ladder this time.
During the last nationals, says Suresh Kumar, one of key players of the team, our team made silly mistakes at a crucial which dashed our hopes of making it to the final. “We hope give good account of our performance in the Ludhiana National,” he said.
On the other hand, in the women’s group, on its way to the title, Indian Railways will hardly face opposition. The star studded Railways team have India’s top players including Anna Geethu Jose, P Anitha and Anju Lakra.
Delhi team is also one of the contenders for the title. International players like Raspreet Kaur, Harjeet Kaur and Pratima Singh will be one to watch during the competition.
Men: Level I
Group A: Indian Railways, Services, Chattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh.
Group B: Tami Nadu, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Karnataka, Delhi.
Group C: Kerala, Haryana, J &K
Group D: Rajasthan, Gujarat, Jharkhand, West Bengal.
Group E: Madhya Pradesh, Chandiagrh, Maharashtra, Tripura.
Group F: Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Orissa, Pondicherry.
Group A: Indian Railways, Chattisgarh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh.
Group B: Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh.
Group C: Kerala, J&K, Jharkhand.
Group D: Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh.
Group E: Chandigarh, Haryana, Orissa, West Bengal.
Group F: Rajasthan, Gujarat, Pondicherry, Uttarakhand.