Kerala women win thriller; TN men, women post wins

Strong contender Kerala held its nerves to score a 65-64 win over Chhattisgarh while Tamil Nadu men scored a thumping 111-79 win over Rajasthan and the women beat Karnataka 94-79.

Tamil Nadu's Sivabalan in action against Rajasthan in the Senior National Basketball Championship in Bhavnagar.   -  Vijay Soneji

Strong contender Kerala held its nerves to score a 65-64 win over Chhattisgarh in a Group ‘B’ women’s clash in Senior National Basketball championship at the Sidsar Sports Complex courts in Bhavnagar on Tuesday.

It was the team’s third straight win but this one was sweeter as it came against last year’s runner that had a super star in Poonam Chaturvedi. The teams feared her towering presence as she stood at six feet and 11 inches.

But Kerala’s coach P.C. Antony planned to mark her and had fixed Stephy Nixon for the job. “Stephy had played with her and she knows Poonam’s big strengths. She did a great work today,” he said.

Once that was taken care of the rest came easy. But Chhattisgarh kept hitting back every time Kerala took the lead and, the teams were locked 64-each in the dying seconds of the game. It was at this juncture that Kerala earned a foul and P.S. Jeena missed one free throw and scored the other to take the team home.

Later in the day, defending champion Tamil Nadu, which lost a bit of shine against Karnataka the other day, came back strongly to score a thumping 111-79 win over a much-fancied Rajasthan in the men’s section.

Monday’s defeat hurt the team so much that its coach C.V. Sunny went back to the room and gave some dressing down for his boys. And, probably that saw them surging forward boldly in search of baskets from the start.

Justin Joseph (31 pts) was on a song and anything he touched turned into golden points for the team. The Rajasthan men found it hard to contain him as he operated with great speed and accuracy.

P. Jeevanantham (18 pts) also found his form and the duo did the bulk of the scoring right through to help the team finish in style.

Last year’s runner Services did likewise scoring a 97-74 win over Indian Railway.

The TN women did what their men could not do against Karnataka on Monday. They must have well learnt their lessons from the men. They combined well to score a facile 94-79 win to stay on course for the knockout stage.

The results

Men: Group A: Tamil Nadu 111 (Justin Joseph 31, P. Jeevanantham 18, Hariram 11, Sivabalan 10) bt Rajasthan 79 (Kamran Khan 30, D. Sharad 21).

Karnataka 87 (Anil Kumar 22, Shashank Rai 21, A. Aravind 19) bt Gujarat 69 (Vinay Kausik 26, Vivek Gohil 15, M. Kashirajan14, Inder Vijai Gohil12).

Group B: Services 97 bt Indian Railway 74.

Group C: Delhi 80 bt Telangana 43.

Group D: Chhattisgarh 54 bt HP 43. Manipur 60 bt Nagaland 43.

Group E: Haryana 78 bt J&K 69. Bihar 58 bt Puducherry 45. Maharashtra 74 bt WB 56.

Group F: MP 70 bt Assam 47. UP bt Odisha 63. Jharkhand 71 bt Tripura 16.

Women: Group A: Delhi 90 (Raspreeth Sandhu 30, Bharati Sihag 26) bt WB 71 (Anjana Ekka 24, Nivyaraj 21). Tamil Nadu 94 (S. Pushpa 25, S. Sathya 18, Vandana 15, V. Srividya 12, Ishwarya 10 bt Karnataka 79 (R. Varsha 23, Lopamudra18).

Group B: Kerala 65 (P.S. Jeena 15, Stephy Nixon15, P.G. Anjana 13, K.S. Poojamol 10) bt Chhattisgarh 64 (Poonam Chaturvedi 24, Seema Singh14, L. Deepa 10,Aakansh Singh 10). Maharashtra 72 bt UP 51.

Group C: Puducherry 27 bt Uttarakhand 24. Gujarat 42 bt Goa 14.