ONGC Men and Tamil Nadu women win 27th Federation Cup in Bangalore
The finals of one of India’s premier national basketball competitions – the 27th Federation Cup All India National Basketball Championship for Men & Women – came down to a deservingly exciting finish at the Sri Kantaveera Stadium in Bangalore (Karnataka) on Sunday, February 3rd. An up-and-down matchup in the Women’s finale saw Tamil Nadu survive for a 1-point win against Maharashtra. In the Men’s Final, Uttarakhand’s dominant side ONGC stormed their way to a blowout victory over IOB (Chennai).
The Finals capped the five-day tournament that featured some of the best basketball sides from Indian club/units and states. Tipping off on January 30th, the tournament was organized by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) and the Karnataka State Basketball Association (KSBBA).
Undefeated Tamil Nadu came into the tournament on the back of four straight wins and a rematch with Maharashtra, whom they had blown out by 29 points earlier in the tournament. But led by Manisha Dange (17), Maharashtra were in no mood to be simple pushovers, as they stormed to a nine point lead after the first quarter. TN turned the screws in the second period, outscoring Maharashtra 26-10 and going into halftime with a seven point advantage.
Maharashtra saved it late to make their furious comeback, and in a defensive final period, came close to a major upset. TN managed to survive in the end and sneak out with a 63-62 victory to claim their first Federation Cup title. Strong performances by TN’s Anitha Paul Durai (22) and Raja Priyadarshini (17) led the winning team in the final.
ONGC Men – who featured many of the same stars that led Uttarakhand to a National Championship win in Ludhiana last month – provided the perfect finish to their perfect tournament, where they won each game by an average of over 20 points to a 5-0 record. Their game against IOB (Chennai) was also a rematch of an earlier group game, where IOB had given them their only tough challenge of the tournament, but ONGC had still managed to win by 7.
In the final, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi (18), Murali Krishna (17), and Trideep Rai (17) were the leading scorers of a balanced effort from ONGC as the star-studded squad started slow but turned on the heat in the second quarter and eventually cruised their way to a 72-46 victory. Mihir Pandey with 16 points was the leading scorer for IOB.
Featuring the Senior Nationals MVP Yadwinder Singh, Murali Krishna, Trideep Rai, Riyazuddin, Mohit Bhandari, and more, ONGC were full of India’s big name players. But it was Vishesh Bhriguvanshi who came up big consistently in each game (17.8 ppg), and for his efforts, was named the MVP of the tournament. The Women’s MVP was an easy choice, going to Tamil Nadu’s experienced leading scorer Anitha Pauldurai who dominated proceedings at the tournament.
The 3rd/4th place playoffs were also held on Sunday. In the Men’s section, Ranbir Singh and Amrit Pal Singh poured in 25 points each to lead Punjab Police to a 86-66 win over Indian Air Force. Young Indian international Narendar Grewal had 16 points for IAF. Kerala won third place with a 88-66 win over South East Central Railway; Jeena PS (25), Surya (23), and P. Lijimol (22) proved to be a dangerous three-pronged attack for Kerala, while Pushpa M of Chhattisgarh led SEC Railway with 18 in the loss.
India’s new American Head Coach Scott Flemming also attended the event and held a special clinic for attending youngsters. In addition, the KSBBA held a three-point and slam dunk competition on the final day of the championship.
On Saturday, the KSBBA felicitated 42 of their current and former basketball stars in a special function held at the Sri Kantaveera Stadium. The list of honourees included G. Dilip, the only Karnataka player to have represented India’s basketball team at the Olympics (in 1980).
Eventual champions ONGC won a physical matchup against Punjab Police – the winners of last year’s Federation Cup – in the Semi-Final game on Saturday, 75-65. Vishesh Bhriguvanshi (26) and Yadwinder Singh (17) led the way for ONGC. Punjab Police were led by young big man Amrit Pal Singh (19) and Palpreet Singh (17). Behind 23 points by Rikin Pethani, IOB defeated Air Force in the second Semi-Final 86-60. Narender Grewal had 18 for Air Force.
In the Women’s semis, Anitha Pauldurai was spectacular with 35 points as she battled Jeena PS (22) and her Tamil Nadu side stomped away Kerala, 75-55. In a thriller between Maharashtra and SEC Railway, Maharashtra came up on top in the final seconds with a 71-70 victory. Manisha Dange (24) and Shireen Limaye (16) were the leading scorers for Maharashtra. SEC Railway were boosted by with 32 points by Seema Singh and 18 by Pushpa M. in a losing effort.
- Men: ONGC (Vishesh Bhriguvanshi 18, Murali Krisha 17, Trideep Rai 17) bt. IOB (Mihir Pandey 16) 72-46 (13-9, 24-7, 13-11, 22-19).
- Women: Tamil Nadu (Anitha Paul Durai 22, Raja Priyadarshini (17) bt. Maharashtra (Manisha Dange 17, Shireen Limaye 14) 63-62 (12-21, 26-10, 17-17, 8-14).
Third Place Playoffs
- Men: Punjab Police (Ranbir Singh 25, Amrit Pal Singh 25) bt. Air Force (Narendar Grewal 16) 86-66 (21-25, 25-12, 17-11, 23-18).
- Women: Kerala (Jeena PS 25, Surya PR 23, P. Lijimol 22) bt. SEC Railway (Pushpa M. 18, Kavita Akula 13, Bharti Netam 13) 88-66 (11-15, 22-12, 29-19, 26-10).
1. ONGC (Uttarakhand)
2. IOB (Tamil Nadu)
3. Punjab Police (Punjab)
1. Tamil Nadu