Senior National Basketball Championship: Spirited show by TN women

What brought about the transformation in the same team that finished fifth in the previous edition in Chennai?

Tamil Nadu finished runner-up in the 69th senior National basketball championship on Saturday.   -  Vijay Soneji

The Tamil Nadu girls caught the attention of many for their spirited silver show in the 69th senior National basketball championship which concluded on Saturday.

It was the same team that finished fifth in the previous edition in Chennai. So, what brought about the transformation?

These young girls, who come from various educational institutions in the State were exposed to international level of coaching by Milan Opacic last year. That set
the ball rolling for the team, which is now being trained by Delhiraj from Tamil Nadu.

The State association, TNBA also provided the best for its players. It is probably the only State that flew down its players for the championship to cut short on travel time so that the side may enjoy a fresh and energetic start.

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The girls did just that. Overcoming Delhi (64-49) they went on to defeat Karnataka (94-79), West Bengal (73-62), Telangana (80-75) and shocked a fancied Kerala (65-49) in the semifinal before losing to defending champion Indian Railways in the title clash.

The side fought till the very end in the final and its gritty show earned it accolades from various State officials and coaches. M. Nishanthi, S. Pushpa, T. Dharshini and J. Isjwarya have some experience of playing for the country and they guided the rest.

Incidentally, the players were all part of the Talent Research Wing (TRW) camp that featured reputed national players and coaches. They picked the right talent from various districts and shaped them into stars. For those who had come from an economically weaker background,
the TNBA also provided financial assistance and support besides nutritional food and expert coaching.

Apart from systematic coaching, the TNBA also focused on strengthening the mindset of the players. In fact, that worked magic for the team which came up with a bold display. Sathya, in particular, stood tall for the team in the final and her elder sister S. Pushpa, who did the bulk of the scoring in almost every game, took home the Most Valuable Player award.

Aadhav Arjuna, the TNBA’s General Secretary, announced a cash reward of six lakhs for the side. The TNBA President Raj Satyen was confident that the team will bag gold in the future.