National Basketball championship: 'Well-prepared TN confident of good show

Uttarakhand men and Kerala women are the defending champions.

Tamil Nadu men's basketball coach Milan Opacic has a word with players during the practice session for 68th National men & women Basketball championship that begins in Chennai on Wednesday.   -  R. Ragu

The Tamil Nadu men’s team will open its campaign against Haryana, while the women’s team takes on Madhya Pradesh, in the senior National basketball championship that gets underway on Wednesday at the Nehru indoor stadium here.

Men’s team captain Akilan Pari said his team is the “strongest” and picked Punjab as “the most formidable opponent,” speaking over phone on Tuesday.

Women’s team captain Alagu Tamil Mozhi believed her team is “well-prepared,” and hoped the preparation will translate into good showing on-court.  This will be Akilan’s eighth National championship and Alagu Tamil Mozhi’s ninth. The youngsters in both the teams will be well-guided by the experienced captains.

S. Pushpa. who played for India u-16 in the FIBA Asia Cup last year and who is the only Indian selected for the ‘Basketball Without Borders (BWB)’ exposure trip to the USA in February, will be playing her first senior National championship. According to the 16-year-old, “Kerala could pose the toughest challenge”.

Playing under the Serbian head coach Milan Opacic will be enriching. Both teams have had a 45-day training camp in the city. Uttarakhand men and Kerala women are the defending champions.

The groupings: 

Men: Level I:

Group A: Uttarakhand; Rajasthan; Kerala; Karnataka; Odisha; Group B: Tamil Nadu; Punjab; Haryana; Railways; Gujarat.

Level II:

Group C: Chhattisgarh; Goa; Himachal Pradesh; Services; Sikkim; Group D: Andhra Pradesh; Delhi; Jammu & Kashmir; Puducherry; Telangana;  Group E: Arunachal Pradesh; Chandigarh; Jharkhand; Mizoram; Tripura; Group F: Assam; Bihar; Madhya Pradesh; Maharashtra; Uttar Pradesh; West Bengal.

Women: Level I:

Group A: Kerala; Chhattisgarh; Tamil Nadu; Madhya Pradesh; Karnataka; Group B: Telangana; Railways; Delhi; Maharashtra; Rajasthan; Group C: Punjab; Gujarat; Haryana; Uttar Pradesh; Group D: West Bengal; Goa; Himachal Pradesh; Uttarakhand; Group E: Andhra Pradesh; Chandigarh; Jammu & Kashmir; Puducherry; Group F: Assam; Bihar; Jharkhand; Odisha.

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