October 31, 2010

Punjab Boys and Kerala Girls lift Junior Basketball Championship title at Vashi

In what was a fitting end to an exciting championship, the Punjab Boys team stepped up their game when it counted most to edge out Tamil Nadu 75-70 and win the boys’ title at the 61st IMG-Reliance National Basketball Championship for Junior Boys and Girls at the Fr. Agnel School in Vashi (Navi Mumbai). In the girls’ final, Kerala played efficient defense to smother hosts Maharashtra and win the final game, 71-60.

The boys’ game was a see-saw, back and forth affair, as the two strongest teams in the tournament, Punjab and Tamil Nadu, faced each other. It was a match-up between Punjab’s height and Tamil Nadu’s speed. Tamil Nadu had a hard time dealing with Punjab’s control of the boards, but led by some brilliant play by GB Carmel Joseph, they kept close until the end. Tamil Nadu looked to have sealed the game in the last few minutes before Punjab’s captain Amjyot Singh (10) and Bikramjot Singh (22) made clutch baskets to give their team the victory.

“It feels really good to win this trophy, especially since this was such a difficult tournament,” said Amjyot Singh, Punjab’s captain. “The game was going down to the wire, but our coach reassured us and made sure we played with a cool mind. I’m very happy we were able to win: this is a good, balanced team, that boasted good shooters, good passers, and of course, great height.”

Kerala girls silenced the home support after they built an early double digit lead over the Maharashtra squad. Playing disciplined man-to-man defense, Kerala made it extremely difficult for Maharashtra to score and were soon sitting on a 24 point advantage early in the 3rd quarter. Maharashtra slowly began to catch up, even cutting the lead to single digits in the last few minutes. But Kerala managed to hold on, and as time expired, they emerged 71-60 winners.

Kerala were once again led by the confident young star Jeena PS (26). “I am happy to win this trophy and make Kerala proud,” said Jeena, “We were able to play good defense, and on offense, my team-mates did a good job in getting the ball to me in the post. There was a bit of pressure from the home support as Maharashtra made a comeback in the fourth quarter, but we were able to hang on.

Final Scores
Girls: Kerala 71 (Jeena PS 26, Neenu Mol PS 15) bt. Maharashtra 60 (Amruta Vashwant 15).
Boys: Punjab 75 (Bikramjot Singh 22, Kamaldeep Singh 18) bt. Tamil Nadu 70 (GB Carmel Joseph 27, KS Prasanna 17, G Sivabalan 13)

Final Standings:

1. Kerala
2. Maharashtra
3. Tamil Nadu
4. Chhattisgarh
5. Karnataka
6. Delhi
7. Uttar Pradesh
8. Punjab
9. Rajasthan
10. Orissa

1. Punjab
2. Tamil Nadu
3. Madhya Pradesh
4. Karnataka
5. Kerala
6. Chhattisgarh
7. Maharashtra
8. Rajasthan
9. Uttar Pradesh
10. Andhra Pradesh

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