Uttarakhand shock Tamil Nadu to enter finals

Uttarakhand launched an astounding comeback to record a 71-69 victory over Tamil Nadu in the men’s semi-final of the Senior national basketball championship, here on Friday. Uttarakhand, the defending champion, found itself down by 18 points with a little over seven minutes to go. A Tamil Nadu win was all but guaranteed, but Vishesh Bhrighuvanshi and his men refused to give up.

A jubilant Uttarakhand side celebrates a remarkable victory over Tamil Nadu in the men's semifinal of the Senior national basketball championship, at the Chamundi Vihar Stadium in Mysuru on Friday.

Uttarakhand launched an astounding comeback to record a 71-69 victory over Tamil Nadu in the men’s semi-final of the Senior national basketball championship, here on Friday. Uttarakhand, the defending champion, found itself down by 18 points with a little over seven minutes to go. A Tamil Nadu win was all but guaranteed, but Vishesh Bhrighuvanshi and his men refused to give up.

Comeback

Point guard Riyazuddin started the roll by sinking two three-pointers, followed by another couple of maximums from Trideep Rai. Trideep’s double blow brought the deficit down to just two points, with 45 seconds left on the clock. Centre Murali Krishna then stayed strong under the ring to score, tying the game at 69.

A little less than 20 seconds remained, and a panicky Tamil Nadu turned the ball over - in the centre circle - to Uttarakhand and India skipper Bhrighuvanshi. The forward stayed calm, hustled his way to the key, and converted a lay-up with his left hand. Tamil Nadu ball-handler Akilan missed a tough shot on the final play, and his side was knocked out. The defeated hoopsters - many in tears - left the arena in a state of shock.

Services show their class

Services, meanwhile, proved too good for Punjab in the other semi-final. The two teams were evenly matched for the first three quarters, but some timely buckets from Narendra Grewal took Services

over the hump. In the first women’s semi-final, a strong show from Railways took out Telangana 78-50. Railways displayed superior teamwork, and benefitted from plenty of fast-breaks and full-court presses. It was all too much to handle for Telangana, which exited with a whimper.

Railways will face Kerala in the summit clash, which will be held at the Chamundi Vihar Stadium on Saturday. Kerala brushed aside Delhi’s challenge, emerged a 82-41 winner. P.S. Jeena (30 pts), Stephy Nixon (18 pts), and P.S. Neenumol (11 pts) were once again on fire, with Jeena - in particular - impressing the crowd with her elegant, textbook shooting motion.

The results:

Semi-finals: Men: Uttarakhand 71 (Vishesh Bhrighuvanshi 21, Yadwinder Singh 21, Murali Krishna 11) bt Tamil Nadu 69 (Rikin Pethani 20, Pratham Singh 15, Prasanna Venkatesh 11); Services 83 (Jayram Jat 20, Ashutosh Rai 18, Joginder Singh 16) bt Punjab 66 (Gurvinder Gill 16, T.J. Sahi 14).

Women: Railways 78 (Anitha Paul Durai 20, Sitamani Tudu 13, Raja Priya Darshini 12) bt Telangana 50 (P. Divya 21, Ramya 10); Kerala 82 (P.S. Jeena 30, Stephy Nixon 18, P.S. Neenumol 11) bt Delhi 41 (Pratima

Singh 21, R. Raspreet 15).

Classification matches: Men: Karnataka 72 (Anil Kumar 20, Isaac 10) bt Kerala 50 (Jishnu Nair 12, Robin 11); Railways 87 (S. Somvier 24, Ajay Pratap Singh 18, Gaurav Ohlan 13) bt Gujarat 76 (Kasi Rajan 29, Vinay Kaushik 21, Harpal 13).

5th to 8th place: Women: Tamil Nadu 83 (C.L. Rini 20, Srividhya 17, Prithi 14) bt West Bengal 76 (Anjana Dezy 29, Libina 26, Madhu Kumari 14); Chhattisgarh 79 (Poonam Chaturvedi 34, Bharti 19) bt Punjab 75 (Nirmal 29, Kirandeep 20, Indu Kumari 14).