Down 40-41 at half time, Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) quelled a serious challenge from Customs and Central Excise, Kochi 87-74 in the men’s semifinals of the senior Federation Cup basketball championships at the Chittoor District Sports Authority stadium courts on Saturday.

Both sides were defensive initially until Shinu Mon Augustin sank two three-pointers from the same spot on top of the D. The dominance of the Kochi outfit was evident as it directed the course of the action, each cager contributing either with actual scoring or with assists.

International Eudrick Pereira was in fine touch, on one occasion snatching one offensive rebound and unleashing a jump shot that slipped in smoothly, all in one fluid motion. The star forward ran into foul trouble though and that’s where the problems began for the Customs men.
Limited bench strength soon became obvious as replacements couldn’t quite replicate the skills of the starting five. Its game showed spark in patches as with Nikhil K.R.’s faking in the low post area to fox the bank defenders.

The bankers had ample reserves, refreshing their charge with substitutions that not only eased things for the men on court but kept the scoreboard ticking. For each offensive rebound, several pairs of outstretched hands were seen as the Chennai squad steadily tightened its stranglehold.

Rikin Pethani’s left-handed assault lent enough variety for the bankers, backed by the splendid bursts from shooting guard G. Sivabalan.

The customs team, while never giving up, fell victim to fatigue as the initiative the players showed in the opening half dissipated as the game progressed.

Earlier, TN women took down reigning champion Eastern Railway 82-64 after leading 41-31 during the breather. Centres V. Srividhya and S. Pushpa were at the forefront of an orchestrated campaign that simply blew away the railway women.

The results (semifinals):
Men: IOB 87 (S. Prasanna Venkatesh 17, Rikin Pethani 23, G. Sivabalan 26) bt Customs & Excise 74 (Bony Mathew 17, Shinu Mon Augustin 20, Robin S. 10, Nikhil K.R. 11)
Women: Tamil Nadu 82 (V. Srividhya 20, S. Pushpa 28, T. Dharshini 11, M. Nishanthi 15) bt Eastern Railway 64 (Libina M.J. 20, Madhu Kumari 24, Sitamani Tudu 11).