National Basketball: Harpal shines for Gujarat

The veteran netted 24 points in his team’s 57-51 victory against Chhattisgarh in a Group-B match.

S. S. Kumar

Gujarat's Harpal Singh (left) starred in his team's victory against Chhattisgarh in the 67th Senior National Basketball Championship held at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium at Uppalam in Puducherry.   -  S. S. Kumar

Harpal Singh used to be one of the valuable players for Indian Railways and India, for a brief while. He was part of the Railways team, which won the Senior National basketball championships in Surat (2008-09), and has played for India in the Asian Basketball championship, among a few other International events.

Though he is way past his best now, the centre, who plays for Gujarat, still remains a threat to opponents.

In the 67th Senior Nationals, on Saturday, Harpal netted 24 points in his team’s 57-51 victory against Chhattisgarh in a Group-B match.

Ball handler Kasirajan contributed in equal measure scoring 12 vital points. Interestingly, Kasirajan was part of the Tamil Nadu team which won the gold in the Nationals in New Delhi in 2014. He has been representing Gujarat for the last three years after he landed a job with Income Tax.

Gujarat, playing in Level-I for the first time, was calling the shots in the first two quarters, leading 19-14 in the first and 34-25 in the second. The 32-year-old Harpal played a huge part in two pointers, though he didn’t shine particularly in free throws, in the first and second quarters.

Gujarat allowed things to drift in the third quarter. From a lead of 36-27 midway in the third, Gujarat conceded the advantage to Chhattisgarh. During the phase, it was Chhattisgarh’s Rudraksh and Rajesh, who kept scoring at regular intervals. Gujarat just about managed to take the lead, by three points, going into the fourth and final quarter. Though the fourth quarter was close, it was clear that Gujarat had the edge as it displayed enough composure and game plan at the death.

In a nail-biting Group-A men's contest, Karnataka edged out Kerala 72-68. With a minute and a half remaining for the final whistle, the scores were tied at 66-each, after a three-pointer from Kerala's Albin Baby. Arvind, then, converted two 2-pointers to increase the lead for Karnataka, and Anil Kumar literally sealed the issue in the team’s favour when he lured Rahul Sarath to a foul, and then converted the resultant two free throws.

The results:

Men: Group-A: Karnataka 72 (Aravind 17, Anil Kumar 29, Naveen Raj 16) bt Kerala 68 (A. R. Akhil 23); Group-B: Gujarat 57 (Harpal Singh 24, Kasirajan 12) bt Chhattisgarh 51 (Rudraksh 28); Group -F: West Bengal 63 (Amrit Singh 14, Mandeep 20) bt Jharkhand 31 (Sukhdeep Singh 11). Group-D: Puducherry 62 (Poovanna 19, Achudhan 11) bt Telangana 58 (P. V. Nikhil Saikumar 17, H. Muthukumar 15).

Women: Group-B: Kerala 66 (Jeena 14, Elizabeth 12) bt West Bengal 21; Group-C: Karnataka 66 (Bhandanya 27, Priyanka 15) bt Gujarat 32 (Aarti 15); Group-F: Odisha 61 (J. Baskey 23, U. Mallik 14) bt Puducherry 24.