The 63rd National Basketball Championship, the biggest annual domestic basketball tournament in India, tipped off on Friday, December 28th at the Guru Nanak Stadium in Ludhiana, Punjab, with hosts Punjab Men & Women picking up impressive wins on opening night. Meanwhile, Women’s defending champions Indian Railways kicked things off with a dominating win over Delhi in which superstar Geethu Anna Jose scored 51 points.
Jose, who has been India’s finest basketball player over the past decade, started off her team’s title defence in style by nearly scoring as many points as the entire opposition! Indian Railways, who have won the past nine Senior National titles, dominated their rivals from start to finish towards a 107-57 victory. Jose scored 51 of those points for the defending champs.
After the opening ceremony, hosts Punjab’s teams – both in the Men’s and the Women’s divisions – gave the local fans plenty of reason to cheer with impressive wins over Kerala and Uttar Pradesh respectively. Punjab Men are the reigning champs from the 62nd edition of the tournament and are looking to make it two in a row at home this year. They started off hot behind Ranbir (17) to defeat Kerala 90-66. Nikhil had 16 points for the losing side.
Nagma (28) and Rajwinder (20) were the bright sparks for Punjab’s Women’s team who defeated UP 80-60. Punjab played tough defence in the first half to take an insurmountable lead and prevent UP from making any late comebacks. Preeti Kumari (19) and Garima Singh (17) led the way for UP.
Another big result was Indian Railways Men’s 85-51 victory over Andhra Pradesh, riding on 25 points by India international Prakash Mishra. Railways trailed AP after the end of the first quarter, but grew stronger as the game progressed and outscored their opponents heavily over the next three periods for their impressive win.
A total of 46 teams from all atcross India – 25 in the Men’s and 21 in the women’s division – have descended upon the city of Ludhiana for this tournament, which is set to be held from December 28 – January 4th. Last year’s champions in Chennai, Punjab (Men) and Indian Railways (Women) will be looking to defend their titles this year.
In the inauguration ceremony on Friday, the Punjab Basketball Association (PBA) organised a flag-hoisting ceremony and a cultural programme. Padam Chand Dagra, a Padma Shree winning body building World Champion was present as a chief guest at the event. The Basketball Federatiotn of India (BFI) also honoured India’s Senior Women’s 3×3 basketball team that won gold at the 3rd Asian Beach Games 3×3 basketball tournament in June.
Another honour was given to referee Snehal Bendke, who became the first Indian to be picked for officiating at the Olympics when she was invited to the London Olympics basketball tournament in the summer.
On the opening day, Roopam Sharma, the CEO of the BFI said, “I am pleased to announce that the 63rd Senior National Basketball Championships are being held in Ludhiana. The city has been an excellent host in the past, and BFI is thankful to PBA for rendering its support in hosting the event this year too. The Senior National Basketball Championship continues to be one of the most competitive basketball tournaments in India at the highest level and has been growing year after year. I am certain that such competitive championships will sustain the interest of youngsters and will go long way in increasing the popularity of the sport in the country.”
In addition to the tournament, a ‘Train the Trainer’ coaching clinic is scheduled to be held at the venue on January 1-2 under the direction of India’s new national team coach Scott Flemming and India’s Strength & Conditioning Coach Zak Penwell. Penwell’s book on Strength & Condittioning for the Indian basketball player will also be officially released at this event both in English and in Hindi.
On January 4, Coach Flemming will host an open tryout for any interested youth players to try and have a shot at India’s U16 teams for both boys and girls.
- Services (Narendar Grewal 27, Gopal Ram 21) bt. Karnataka (Srinivas Naik 25, Sridhar 13) 73-64 (23-17, 17-12, 18-15, 15-20).
- Indian Railways (Prakash Mishra 25) bt. Andhra Pradesh 85-51 (18-20, 19-10, 19-13, 29-8).
- Punjab (Ranbir 17) bt. Kerala (Nikhil 16) 90-66 (27-15, 15-19, 21-15, 27-17).
- Indian Railways (Geethu Anna Jose 51) bt. Delhi (Raspreet Sidhu 15) 107-57 (31-20, 29-10, 18-15, 29-12).
- Maharashtra (Sneha Rajguru 29, Shireen Limaye 23) bt. Andhra Pradesh (M. Meshram 21, S. Sam 19, M. Gayatri 14) 78-70 (23-12, 24-20, 20-19, 11-19).
- Punjab (Nagma 28, Rajwinder 20) bt. Uttar Pradesh (Preeti Kumari 19, Garima Singh 17) 80-60 (18-13, 22-13, 16-18, 24-15).
The next week is definitely going to oversee the most significant domestic events in Indian basketball, so all hoops fans in the country are encouraged to attend and follow the action. Keep watching this space to follow the results of the games.