26th Federation Cup tips on a high note for Southern Railway and Chhattisgarh Women
An exclusive collection of India’s finest club and state teams tipped off the 26th edition of the All India Federation Cup Basketball Championship for Men & Women at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium in Kochi (Kerala) on Wednesday. Champions of the Women’s division last year Chhattisgarh continued their hot streak with a big win on their opening game, while perennial contenders Southern Railway also started strong in their first match-up.
The Federation Cup pits together eight of the best Men’s Club teams in India and eight of the best Women’s State teams.
Reigning women’s champions Chhattisgarh continued where they left off a year ago, with another dominating victory on their first game here against the team from Madhya Pradesh. Chhattisgarh’s Anju Lakra made all the headlines with her sharp-shooting 29 point performance, while the team as a whole played excellent defense throughout the game against MP. Chhattisgarh held on to a 40-21 first half advantage and extended it further by the end of the game, winning 73-36.
In another Women’s game, Southern Railway saw the usual suspects step up and take charge: Anitha Paul Durai (28 points) ensured that a comfortable 81-52 win in their first game against Maharashtra. Southern Railway kept up the pressure constantly all four quarters for the blowout victory. Maurya Renu led Maharashtra with 17 points.
In the Men’s division, ONGC used a strong second-quarter surge to blow past the team from Air Force. ONGC have been carrying the favourites tag in this tournament after dominating recent club championships around India. After a slow start to the first period where they trailed by a point, they turned on at both ends of the floor to outscore Air Force 27-7 in the second period. Vishesh Bhriguvanshi was the high scorer for ONGC with 18 points, while Narender Grewal had 19 for Air Force. ONGC won the game 73-51.
Reigning champions in the Men’s division, Western Railway had a poor start to the tournament. They were going up against a motivated squad from IOB (Chennai), who showed no respect to the title-holders. IOB held a 39-20 lead by the end of the first half, and their tough defense didn’t allow any easy baskets for Western Railway. Led by Matthew VR’s 17, IOB cruised to a 73-36 win. S. Kumar had 16 in a losing effort for Railway.
ONGC (Vishesh Bhriguvanshi 18, Trideep Rai 15) bt Air Force (Narendar Grewal 19, J. Singh 13) 73-51 (15-16, 27-7, 17-14, 14-14).
IOB (Mathew VR 17) bt. Western Railway (S Kumar 16) 73-36 (20-13, 19-7, 16-8, 18-8).
Chhattisgarh (Anju Lakra 29) bt. Madhya Pradesh 76-32 (19-14, 21-7, 21-3, 15-8).
Southern Railway (Anitha Paul Durai 28, Geethu Anna Jose 14) bt. Maharashtra (Maurya Renu 17) 81-52 (20-10, 21-20, 19-13, 21-9).