Not a great show

A. VINOD

The victorious Tamil Nadu team.-K. GOPINATHAN

The quality of basketball events in the 32nd National Games hardly matched the facilities that were on offer at the gleaming Swarnandhra Pradesh Indoor Stadium. So much so, it was a mediocre affair all the way before Tamil Nadu and Chattisgarh emerged triumphant in the men's and women's sections respectively.

True, that some of the quarterfinal league matches, in both the sections, were keenly contested. But beyond the closeness of these encounters, there was hardly anything great in the approach of the various teams, their game-plan and most of all the display from the top names as well. This shows the distance the Indian basketball needs to travel so as to catch up with the rest of its rivals in the continent.

Perhaps, the only saving grace amid such a disturbing prospect was the tale of success that Tamil Nadu scripted in the men's section. Boasting a side, which was a blend of youth and experience, the reigning National champion was indeed a class apart from its rivals, though it did run into some trouble against Karnataka in its opening campaign and Services in the semifinals.

But in the other matches, including in the final against Punjab, Tamil Nadu played a steady game steered brilliantly by its skipper Sugavaneshwar and were never in any sort of trouble as it coasted to victory with a measure of comfort. Drawn in Group `A' for the quarterfinal league, the Tamil Nadu side was given an early wake-up call by Karnataka which had the seasoned B. S. Gowtham and the tall-scoring Murali Mohan at the helm.

Chattisgarh was rewarded for its waiting game it deployed against Andhra Pradesh in the women's final. The two teams had met in the topsy-turvy Group A league earlier and it was Chattisgarh which had emerged triumphant there again. But with the capacity crowd very much behind the home side, the outcome in the final turned out to be a different story.

Particularly after the steadiness Andhra had shown in its fightback against Kerala in the league phase. The match between the two sides was virtually a final as both Andhra and Kerala were left in a must-win situation after losing out to Chattisgarh and Delhi earlier. In the absence of last year's winner, Maharashtra, Kerala which had finished runner-up to Indian Railways in the Nationals was the initial favourite for the title.

But sadly, Kerala never played to its known strengths and it allowed Andhra Pradesh to get away with a one-point win. This after the side was in a comfortable position at the half-way stage. Delhi, packed with a host of junior internationals, also had its chances as it overcame Kerala to compensate for its loss against the home side. But here again, it was a must-win situation for both Delhi and Chattisgarh.

The triumphant Chattisgarh team.-K. GOPINATHAN

Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu never faced any such problems before making it to the semifinals from Group `B' at the expense of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.

The results:

Men (final): Tamil Nadu 101 (Sugavaneshwar 24, Shabir Ahamed 23, S. Sridhar 21, S. Robinson 19) bt Punjab 74 (Parminder Singh Jr. 40, Parminder Singh Sr. 17).

Losers' final: Services 71 (Phool Singh 25, Peter John 12, Chotelal Sharma 12) bt Karnataka 49 (Murali Mohan 14, S. Gowda 12).

Semifinals: Tamil Nadu 69 (S. Robinson 22, S.Sridhar 11) bt Services 63 (Dilip Kumar 14, Sambhaji Kadam 13); Punjab 86 (Parminder Singh Sr. 28, Gagnesh Kumar 22, Parminder Singh Jr. 14, Prithpal Singh 14) bt Karnataka 58 (Murali Mohan 19, Umashankar 16, Stalin 13).

Quarterfinal league: Group `A': Tamil Nadu bt Karnataka 89-79; Andhra Pradesh bt Delhi 77-57; Tamil Nadu bt Delhi 109-66; Karnataka bt Andhra Pradesh 85-78; Tamil Nadu bt Andhra Pradesh 92-59; Karnataka bt Delhi 68-55 (Tamil Nadu and Karnataka qualified for the semifinals).

Group `B': Punjab bt Jharkhand 91-76; Services bt Uttar Pradesh 81-62; Punjab bt Uttar Pradesh 96-74; Jharkhand bt Services 70-65; Services bt Punjab 86-80; Jharkhand bt Uttar Pradesh 84-82 (Punjab and Services qualified for the semifinals on account of their better score-average though they were tied with Jharkhand on points).

Women (final): Chattisgarh 80 (Poonam Singh 22, Anju Lakra 20, Seema Singh 20, J. Venu 14) bt Andhra Pradesh 72 (Jetty Jose 25, U.P.Laiji 21, Sofi Sam 17).

Losers' final: Madhya Pradesh 53 (Savita Deshwal 15, Prasanna Lazarus 14, Priyanka Tekam 12) bt Tamil Nadu 49 (Vidya Sivakumar 12).

Semifinals: Chattisgarh 78 (Poonam Singh 31, Anju Lakra 17, Seema Singh 16) bt Tamil Nadu 61 (Preethi 23, Vidya Sivakumar 16, Adhirai 10); Andhra Pradesh 83 (Sofi Sam 23, U.P.Laiji 20, Jetty Jose 19) bt Madhya Pradesh 60 (Savita Deshwal 18, Nanda Jain 16, Nidhi Chandra 12).

Quarterfinal league: Group `A': Kerala bt Chattisgarh 69-63; Andhra Pradesh bt Delhi 67-66; Delhi bt Kerala 68-46; Chattisgarh bt Andhra Pradesh 74-55; Andhra Pradesh bt Kerala 61-60; Chattisgarh bt Delhi 79-76. (Chattisgarh and AP qualified for the semifinals).

Group `B': Tamil Nadu bt Punjab 68-65; Madhya Pradesh bt Uttar Pradesh 73-58; Madhya Pradesh bt Punjab 75-64; Tamil Nadu bt Uttar Pradesh 91-50; Madhya Pradesh bt Tamil Nadu 52-44; Punjab bt Uttar Pradesh 81-65 (Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu qualified for the semifinals).