PUDUCHERRY, MAY 1 : The 67th Junior National Basketball Championship organised by the Puducherry District Basketball Association, under the aegis of the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) tipped off today morning at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium in the city.
Twenty six boys teams and 22 girls teams are participating this year, with matches being played on one indoor court and three outdoor courts. As is standard practise, the teams in both boys and girls section have been divided into two Levels- Level 1 (Groups A & B) and Level 2 (Groups C to F). The tournament is played on a league cum knockout basis, with as many as 128 matches played from early morning till late night. In the league stages, all teams within each group play against each other, and the top teams qualify to the knockout stages.
Haryana (Surya 18, Namraj 16) defeated Madhya Pradesh (Sakshi P 22) by 65-53 in the girls Level I match.
Most of the opening matches were one sided, barring a Level 2 boys game where Mizoram bt Tripura by a solitary point. However, the games to watch out for were the highly anticipated post lunch clashes between defending champions Chhattisgarh vs Tamil Nadu (women) and defending champions Tamil Nadu vs Kerala (men).
Chhattisgarh women bt Tamil Nadu: From the get go both teams were aggressive and Tamil Nadu took an early lead in the first quarter. Chhattisgarh came out strong in the second quarter and was able to wrest the lead. In Q3, Chhattisgarh continued its commanding ways, going ahead by 15 points. Soon Tamil Nadu’s half court man to man pressure forced Chhattisgarh into many turnovers. TN regained a 2 point lead with two minutes left for the final whistle, but Chhattisgarh came back and equalized the game with 60 seconds left. Chhattisgarh played near flawless defence in the last minute to contain their opponents, but a minor mistake gave Tamil Nadu an offensive rebound and a chance to take the lead again. But the pressure got to Tamil Nadu as they were unable to convert two freethrows down the stretch. Chhattisgarh got back the possession with only seconds to go for the final whistle and was able to make one out of two and hang onto that lead till the final whistle.
Kerala men bt Tamil Nadu: The game started off with a slow slowly as Tamil Nadu an early lead. Not far behind though, Kerala came back strong to lead 15-13 at the end of the first quarter. With the lead continuously changing, it was anyone’s game to win, as both teams were effective at the offensive end but fell short in communicating in the back court. Till the last second the teams were neck to neck as they were tied at 81 with 48 seconds left in the game clock. Kerala’s Prem Prakash used his length to intercept a loose ball and converted a game winning fast break. Tamil Nadu had a chance to tie the game with two free throws at the final whistle but unfortunately Hari Ram failed to connect.
Results: Level 1 Boys: Rajasthan (M. Aly 24, S Kumar 10) bt Uttar Pradesh (Lav Singh 14, Dheeraj 12) 56–46 [12-16, 13-12, 21-11, 10-7]. Kerala (Muhamed Siras 24, Hari Krishnan 12) bt Tamil Nadu (Hari Ram 22, Bala Dhaneshwar 14, Pradeep Kumar 12) 83-81 [15-13, 18-22, 25-22, 25-24].
Girls: Kerala (Niuya Raj 12, Nimmi George 10) bt Uttar Pradesh (Shreyasi Vats 7) 45–12 [12-3, 5-3, 11-2, 17-4]. Karnataka (Bhandavya 13, Bhoomika 10) bt Rajasthan (Asha Nayak 5) 69-20 [20-10, 13-2, 20-7, 16-1]. Chhattisgarh (Vandana 19, Riya 16, Mahina 12) bt Tamil Nadu (Ishwarya 17, Nishanti 13, Ria Sharon 8) 59–58 [14-18, 14-7, 20-17, 11-16]. Haryana (Surya 18, Namraj 16) bt Madhya Pradesh (Sakshi P 22) 65-53 [13-8, 11-12, 20-16, 21-17].
Level 2: Boys: Mizoram (Lalfakzula 34) bt Tripura (Akshay 27) 75-74 [13-21, 20-22, 17-14, 25-17].
Girls: Himachal Pradesh (Sonika 21, Vishali 7) bt Andhra Pradesh (N. Padmavathi 11, N. Saroja 8) 53–30 [15-8, 6-12, 12-8, 20-10], Telangana (Natasha 15, Nuthana 11) bt Bihar (Kajul Singh 4) 44–14 [16-0, 5-0, 15-8, 8-6], Goa (Amisha 28, Rachel 18) bt Jharkhand (Alka 7, Riya 6) 52-21 [10-6, 14-2, 8-8, 20-5].