Maiden title for Annamalai

THE host Annamalai University won its maiden title in the all-India inter-zone inter-university basketball tournament at Annamalai Nagar, Chidambaram, with a comfortable 62-50 victory over former champion, Punjab University, in the final.

Sixteen teams, four from South Zone — Madras, Annamalai, Calicut, M.G. University, four from North — Punjab, Guru Nanak Dev, Punjabi, C.C.S. University, four from East — Utkal, Banaras Hindu University, Poorvanchal, Vinoba Bhave, and four from West — Mumbai, L.N.I.P.E, Barackathullah and Jai Narayan Vyas vied for the honours in the tournament. These 16 teams were divided into four pools of four teams each for the league phase.

Annamalai, Madras, Calicut (all from South) and Punjab (North) emerged on top from their respective pools and qualified for the semi-finals.

In the league phase, most of the matches were purely one-sided, but from the semi-finals there was keen fight between the teams which had some senior State and junior State players.

Madras, the South Zone champion, had in its ranks a senior State player Bhubalan, a junior India player Raja, and Ashwin and Joshu Cyrus, who had played last year for the university. The team looked formidable and with its big wins in the South Zone, it was the hot favourite to win the title.

But the host, Annamalai, which had in its ranks a senior State player Sivarajan, a junior State player Senthil Kumar along with some upcoming players in Gnanavel, Saravanakumar and Ajesh, put up good team work Sivarajan being the architect, and won the title in style.

Calicut also had in its ranks a junior India player Bobit Mathew and a senior State player Abilash. Punjab had some fine players in Neeraj Hooda, a three-pointer expert, Amrish Kumar and Ajay Kumar.

In the semi-final, Annamalai beat Calicut 88-62. Though the victory was by a big margin, Annamalai had to fight hard. It made a rousing start and led 29-12 in the first quarter. Thereafter Calicut tried hard but Annamalai maintained that lead till the end.

The other semi-final between Punjab and Madras was a basket for basket sequence with a miss here and there till the last quarter, and in the end Punjab asserted its supremacy. Madras had a one point (20-19) lead in the first quarter.

At half-time, it was Punjab, which had a one-point (37-36) lead. But in the third, Punjab had a small edge and led 53-47. In the fourth, Madras' defence cracked under pressure and the players committed fouls. Punjab men converted all the free throws that came their way, Neeraj fired two three pointers and Punjab won at 68-57.

In the final, Annamalai tried to outpace the rival in the beginning but it missed a few shots. However, with the wily Sivarajan firing two three-pointers and Saravanakumar getting two baskets, the host took a three-point (15-12) lead at the end of the first quarter.

In the second, Sivarajan and his team-mates were in full swing and built up a 14-point (33-19) lead. Though Punjab fought back, Annamalai clung to that lead and won at 62-50 for its maiden title.

In the match for third place, Calicut beat Madras 52-47.

The results (final): Annamalai 62 (Sivarajan 30, Sankar 10, Saravanakumar 10) bt Punjab 50 (Amrish Kumar 19, Ajay Kumar 8).

Third place: Calicut 52 (Abilash 14, Ratheesh 12) bt Madras 47 (Bhubalan 10, Ashwin 10).

Semi-finals: Punjab 68 (Meeraj Hooda 35) Amrishkumar 19) bt Madras 57 (Ashwin 27, Navaneethan 9); Annamalai 88 (Sivarajan 20, Saravanakumar 18, Ajesh 14, Roshan 10) bt Calicut 62 (Abilash 18, Bobit Mathew 17).

League: Pool A: Annamalai bt Utkal 85-41; bt Ch. Charan Singh University 98-56; bt Jai Narayan Vyas 101-46.

Utkal bt Jak Narayan Vyas 68-43; bt Ch. Charan Singh university 64-54.

Ch. Charan Singh University bt Jai Narayan Vyas 69-64.

Pool B: Madras bt GNDU 84-57; bt Banaras Hindu 56-24; bt Barakathullah 54-20.

GNDU bt Barakathullah 66-38; bt Banaras Hindu 58-14. Banaras Hindu bt Barakathullah 37-36.

Pool C: Calicut bt Punjabi 69-66; bt Mumbai 94-65; bt Poovanchal 79-59. Punjabi bt Poovanchal 61-50. Mumbai bt Punjabi 58-52; Poovanchal bt Mumbai 49-38.

Pool D: Punjab bt LNIPE Gwalior 76-59; bt MG University 73-36; bt Vinobha Bhave 61-39. M.G. University bt Vinobha Bhave 60-46; bt LNIPE Gwalior 63-56; LNIPE bt Vinoba Bhave 87-54.

G. Venugopal