Uttarakhand and Indian Railways become 2013 National Basketball Champions in Ludhiana
The stage was the Guru Nanak Stadium Basketball Court in Ludhiana, Punjab. The audience comprised of the large numbers of loud and excited hoop fans from across the state and beyond cheering for their favourite teams. The actors were the cream of crop of basketball talent from across the country. And the show was the biggest day in domestic Indian basketball. On Friday, January 4, 2013, the Finals of the 63rd Senior National Basketball Championship for Men & Women were held in Ludhiana. After a week of breathtaking action, the Indian Railways Women’s team and the Uttarakhand Men’s squad emerged as champions in their respective divisions, as both teams went undefeated through the course of the tournament.
The tournament, which kicked off on December 28th, was organised by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) and the Punjab Basketball Association (PBA). 25 Men’s teams and 21 Women’s teams from states and service units across India took part, featuring the best senior players from across the country. This stage is set to serve as an audition for India’s finest talent in preparation to assemble India’s national men’s and women’s teams before the FIBA Asia Championships later in the year.
There was a predictable, yet spectacular, end to the Women’s championship, as the Indian Railways squad won the tournament for the 11th consecutive year behind yet another dominating performance by India’s best player, Geethu Anna Jose. Jose scored 50 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to put her stamp on the finale as Indian Railways defeated Tamil Nadu.
Despite being a talented squad themselves, TN were underdogs to the powerhouse Railways team in the final, but they started the game confidently and only trailed Railways by 3 at the end of the first quarter. Raja Priyadarshini (23) and Apoorva Muralinath (19) kept TN close, but Railways began to improve on both ends of the floor behind Jose’s performance and took a double-digit lead into the locker room at halftime. A dominating third quarter blew the game wide open and Railways cruised to a 102-82 win.
In the Men’s final, hosts Punjab were also looking to repeat as champions after winning last year’s title in Chennai. Boasting a fine cast of stars, Punjab faced against the undefeated side Uttarakhand, who had several Indian internationals in their lineup as well. But Uttarakhand were able to set the tone in the final from the early going as power forward and India international Yadwinder Singh led the way for a game high 33 points and chipped in 12 boards.
Uttarakhand maintained a steady lead for most of the game to upset the home crowd and walk away 79-61 winners at the end of the day. Punjab were led by 17-year-old 7 foot phenom Satnam Singh Bhamara, who had 19 points and 13 rebounds in the final. Check out this article by Siddarth Sharma for a better, more in-depth review of the Men’s final.
Geethu Anna Jose and Yadwinder Singh were given the ‘Best Player’ award after their performances in the finals.
Also earlier in the day, Gopal Ram scored 18 points to lead Services to a dominating 79-49 win over Tamil Nadu to clinch third place.
In the Women’s third-place game, Chhattisgarh and Delhi played out an exciting back and forth game that saw some fine performances by the stars on both teams. The teams stayed close and traded baskets in this end to end game. Delhi had a three-point lead at halftime, but Chhattisgarh came back behind Seema Singh (27 points) and 6 foot 6 teenager Poonam Chaturvedi (16) to tie the game at 61 all in regulation. Chhattisgarh took control defensively in Overtime to win 71-66. Raspreet Sidhu (23) and Pratima Singh (16) led the way for Delhi.
The Semi-Finals of the competition were held a day earlier. Big man Amrit Pal Singh (26) and exciting point guard TJ Sahi (22) helped hosts Punjab Men beat Tamil Nadu 79-59 in the Men’s Semi-Final. Dinesh CV had 21 for the losing side. The tournament’s highest Men’s scorer Vishesh Bhriguvanshi (with 26.7 ppg) scored 29 points in the other Semi-Final as Uttarakhand beat Services 83-66. Yadwinder Singh chipped in 21 for winning side.
In the Women’s semis, Tamil Nadu – led by M. Adhirai (23) – beat Chhattisgarh in a tight game 61-56. S. Seema had 21 for the losing side. Geethu Anna Jose punished Delhi with 34 points as Indian Railways cruised to an 84-45 win in the second semi-final.
Scott Flemming and India’s Strength & Conditioning Coach Zak Penwell organised a Coaches’ Clinic under BFI’s ‘Train the Trainer’ programme during the Senior Nationals from January 1-2. The event was open for coaches who had accompanied their teams to the tournament or local coaches who wanted to attend.
- Men: Uttarakhand (Yadwinder Singh 33, Murali Krishnan 15, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi 15) bt. Punjab (Satnam Singh Bhamara 19, Ranbir Singh 13, TJ Sahi 13) 79-61 (23-16, 22-18, 13-7, 21-20).
- Women: Indian Railways (Geethu Anna Jose 50, Anju Lakra 14, Anitha Paul Durai 13) bt. Tamil Nadu (Rajapriya Darshini 23, Adhirai Kumari 13, Soniya Joy 13) 102-82 (24-21, 28-20, 27-17, 23-24).
3rd/4th Place Playoffs
- Men: Services (Gopal Ram 18) bt. Tamil Nadu (Pratham Singh 14) 79-49 (14-7, 19-15, 19-9, 27-18).
- Women: Chhattisgarh (Seema Singh 27, Poonam Chaturvedi 16) bt. Delhi (Raspreet Sidhu 23, Pratima Singh 16, Sonika Omlyan 13) 71-66 OT (14-16, 11-12, 15-14, 21-19, 10-5).
4. Tamil Nadu
5. Indian Railways
10. Andhra Pradesh
1. Indian Railways
2. Tamil Nadu
9. West Bengal
10. Madhya Pradesh
For complete set of results and standings, check here on the BFI website.