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West Bengal Boys, Chhattisgarh Girls lift 39th Sub-Jr National Basketball Championship in Goa

By the time the whistle rang for the final time on Saturday evening at Salcete, Goa, the assembled basketball fans had witnessed two opposite spectrums of a sports-lovers experience. On one hand was the Chhattisgarh Girls team, steamrolling through competition as the perennial favourites, and not letting down their fans by winning an incredible 11th consecutive title. On the other hand were the West Bengal Boys, a team from a state who has been underwhelming in Indian basketball for far too long, who completed their Cinderella Story with a fairytale run through the tournament and to lift the trophy as underdogs.

All in a day’s work at the 39th National Basketball Championship for Sub-Junior Boys & Girls, held at the Agnel Charities in Agnel Ashram at Verna, Salcete. The tournament was organised by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) and the Goa Basketball Association.

The ‘Sub-Junior Nationals’, India’s elite national basketball tournament for the best under-14 players, were held for 25 Boys’ and 24 Girls’ teams from across the country from May 6 – May 12, 2012. The finals for this exciting tournament, which features the youngest national-level players in India, took place on Saturday evening.

In the first Final, perennial favourites Chhattisgarh came out on fire against Tamil Nadu, taking a massive 27-6 lead in just the first quarter and cruising the rest of the way to a 55-29 victory that secured them their 11th consecutive championship. A team that relied on several options to get going in each of their games at the tournament, Chhattisgarh finished the championship with a perfect 6-0 record and continued as India’s finest Sub-Junior side in the Girls’ division.

The Boys game featured surprise finalists West Bengal going up against the bigger Madhya Pradesh team. But WB weren’t fazed, and competed neck to neck with MP for the course of the game. Led again by their star player Suman Majhi (21), WB fell back by four points by halftime but came back to tie the game at 50 at the end of the third period. This left for a fourth quarter showdown, and WB’s offense broke MP’s defensive shackles to edge out a 71-64 lead. After finishing 8th in the tournament last year, this was an impressive rise for Bengal to secure the victory. MP were led by B Mayank’s 23 point in a losing effort.

The third/fourth place playoffs were held earlier on Saturday, pinning the losing teams of Friday evening’s semi-finals against each other. 2011 champions Maharashtra needed extra time to win a thrilling game against Rajasthan 75-74. The game turned out to be a shootout between Mohammed of Maharashtra and Abbas Ali of Rajasthan, each of whom netted 30 points.

Karnataka Girls made short work of their third/fourth place game, beating MP 34-16.

On Friday night, all four finalists were involved in Semi-Final match-ups. MP Boys survived only in the last seconds of their game against Maharashtra to win 60-59. Mayank was again the top man for MP with 22 while Gautam scored 23 for Maharashtra. In the other boys’ semi, West Bengal impressed with a win over 2010 winners Rajasthan 65-52, despite 18 points by Mohit for the losing team.

Tamil Nadu won a nailbiter against MP in the first Girls’ semi-final 37-36, after MP vanquished an 11 point fourth-quarter deficit to make it a close game. In the other girls’ semi, Chhattisgarh faced their last year’s final nemesis Karnataka and played an excellent defensive game to win 44-33. Sandhya had a game-high 16 points for the losing Karnataka side.

Final Scores

Boys: West Bengal (Suman Majhi 21) bt. Madhya Pradesh (B Mayank 23) 71-64 (17-13, 13-19, 20-16, 21-14).Girls: Chhattisgarh (Laxmi 14) bt. Tamil Nadu 55-29 (27-6, 14-8, 11-15, 4-0).

Third/Fourth Place Playoffs

Boys: Maharashtra (Mohammed 30) bt. Rajasthan (Abbas Ali 30) 75-74 OT (11-14, 18-17, 18-20, 20-16, 8-7).Girls: Karnataka bt. Madhya Pradesh 34-16 (1-7, 8-4, 10-2, 15-3).

Final Standings

Boys

1. West Bengal2. Madhya Pradesh3. Maharashtra4. Rajasthan5. Andhra Pradesh

Girls

1. Chhattisgarh2. Tamil Nadu3. Karnataka4. Madhya Pradesh5. Maharashtra

Edited by Staff Editor
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