To say that the Chhattisgarh women’s team is relying too much on Poonam Chaturvedi will be an understatement. The 6’11” tall hoopster has been instrumental in the team’s twin-triumphs in New Delhi (2014) & Bhilwara (’14-15) Nationals.
At the 67th Senior National basketball championships here on Wednesday, the 20-year-old scored 57 points in Chhattisgarh’s 86-68 victory over Telangana to help her State finish second in Group-A, behind Indian Railways.
Earlier in the men’s section, Tamil Nadu overwhelmed Gujarat 86-43 in their last Group-B contest. It has already qualified for the quarterfinals.
Interestingly, Telangana players blocked Poonam quite well in the first quarter, preventing her from scoring at her usual frequency. That was the key in the side doing well. Moreover, the team's defensive and offensive rebounds were outstanding. No wonder, Telangana led 24-22 in the first.
Slowly and steadily, Chhattisgarh’s passing and conversion rate improved. More importantly, Poonam began to get her act together scoring at a fairly high rate. Every time, towards the final stages, Poonam used her height to wrest back the lead. For Telangana, R. Ramya was a pillar of strength with her speed and pin-point shooting. She top scored with 27 points.
The Services men’s team has been relegated to Level-II next year as it didn’t take part in the current edition. “The defending champion will have to go through Level-II [next year] as that’s what the BFI rules say,” said Norman Isaac, Chairman, Technical Committee, Basketball Federation of India. “This is the first time that Services, the 29-time champion, has been relegated.”
Meanwhile, Karnataka has topped Group-A followed by Kerala and Punjab while in Group-B, Chhattisgarh has been relegated. On the other hand, Punjab has been relegated to Level-II in women’s Group-A while West Bengal has been pushed down from Group-B.
Level 1: Group B: Tamil Nadu 86 (P. Jeevanantham 21, J. Justin 14, Rikin Pethani 13, R. Hariram 11) bt Gujarat 43 (M. Kasi Rajan 15, Harpal Singh Waghela 14).
Level 2 to Level 1 Qualifier: Rajasthan 87 (Vinod Kumar 28, Sharad Dadich 22, Mod Singh 10) bt Madhya Pradesh 76 (Shubham Mishra 28, Harendra Singh Tomer 26, Gagandeep Singh 12); Odisha 91 (Ashok Kumar Nayak 19, Siba Sankar Behera 17, K. Sravan Kumar 14) bt Puducherry 54 (Poovana 16, Hari 13).
Group A: Chattisgarh 86 (Poonam Chaturvedi 50, Sangeetha Kaaur 11) bt Telangana 68 (R. Ramya 27, M. Gayathri 11, Suganya 18, Rachna Silveri 10); Chhattisgarh 102 (Poonam 39, Sharanjeet Kaur 24, Sangeeta Kaur 15, Aakansha Singh 12) bt Maharashtra 65 (Shireen Limaye 20, Sakshi Arora 17); Indian Railways 84 (M.J. Libina 18, Sitamani Tudu 12, Sruthi Menon 12, R. Rajapriyadarshini 10) bt Telangana 38 (R. Ramya 10) 38.
Group B: Delhi 81 (Sahiba Maan 18, Monika 15, Raspreet Sidhu 11, Garima Gosain 10, Meena 10) bt West Bengal 36 (Paulami Chatterjee 10); TN 66 (V. Srividhya 13, Srividya Shekar 13, M. Keerthi 10) bt Rajasthan 34 (Nisha Sharma 19).
Level 2 to Level 1 Qualifier: Karnataka 48 (P. Bhoomika 16, C.N. Supritha 11, P. Priyanka 10) bt Odisha 24 (Rajashree Swain 10); Madhya Pradesh 73 (Nima Doma 28, Namrata 13, Sakshi Pandey 11) bt Chandigarh 60 (Kirti 17, Pooja 15).