February 15, 2011

Western Railway & Chhattisgarh win thrilling final contests to hoist 25th Federation Cup trophy

In a thrilling and memorable conclusion to the 25th IMG-Reliance Federation Cup Basketball Championship for Men and Women in Raipur, Western Railway (Men) and hosts Chhattisgarh (Women) survived late comebacks by their opponents to lift the Federation Cup trophy on Tuesday, February 15th.

After squandering a 14-point half-time lead to a re-energised IOB (Chennai) side, Western Railway found themselves down by one point in the final seconds of the Men’s final. It took late game heroics from Railway’s point guard Arjun Singh ‘Golu’, who hit a drive-in jumper with just three seconds left on the clock to give Western Railway a 75-74 lead and seal an emotional victory for his team.

Behind leading scorer Vishesh Bhriguvanshi (28 points), Western Railway started off the final well, maintaining a good lead over IOB, and went into halftime up by 48-34. But they started to lose their rhythm in the third quarter as IOB began plotting a comeback. Led by the sharpshooting by Mihir Pandey, V. Mathew Revi (16), and the clutch play of international point guard Hareesh Koroth (20), IOB were on fire in the fourth quarter, barely missing a shot, and overturning an eight point deficit with five minutes to go into a one point lead in the dying seconds. It took Arjun’s game-winner in the last seconds to pull off an exciting Railway win.

Earlier in the day, another exciting game took shape in the Women’s final, as high-flying hosts Chhattisgarh took on traditional Indian powerhouse, Southern Railway. To cope with dominating Center Geethu Anna Jose, Chhattisgarh employed a double-team defense of Seema Singh and Jose Jilna. Their tactic worked early on, as Chhattisgarh played their trademark fast-paced game and led comfortably for most of the three quarters.

But Southern Railway began to make a valiant comeback in the final quarter, as Geethu was finally freed up from her shackles and began to find her baskets easily. As Chhattisgarh began to tire, Railway threatened to come back and steal the game away from the hosts. But their attempt was a too little too late, as Chhattisgarh survived to win 76-71. Chhattisgarh’s unstoppable twosome of Anju Lakra (22) and Pushpa M. (21) were once again the best players for their squad, whereas Geethu Anna Jose dropped 22 points for the losing side.

The matches to decide for third-place also took place earlier on Tuesday. After losing to Chhattisgarh in the Semi-Final, Delhi Women bounced back strong against Kerala behind Prashanti Singh (23) and Asha Hedge (18) to win 70-58. Soniya Joy had 16 points for Kerala.

In the Men’s 3rd/4th place match-up, Indian Army defeated ONGC 68-59 to seal third place. Navneet Singh led Army with 20 points and Anoop M. had 16 for ONGC.

At the end of the tournament, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi (Western Railway) and Prashanti Singh (Delhi) won the Federation Cup’s leading scorer awards.

Final Scores

Men: Western Railway 75 (Vishesh Bhriguvanshi 28, Yadwinder Singh 15) bt. IOB (Chennai) 74 (Hareesh Koroth 20, V Mathew Rewi 16).
Women: Chhattisgarh 76 (Anju Lakra 22, Pushpa M. 21, Seema Singh 13) bt. Southern Railway 71 (Geethu Anna Jose 22, Renjini Peter 15).

Third/Fourth Place Playoffs

Men: Indian Army 68 (Navneet Singh 20, Gopal Ram 13) bt. ONGC 59 (Anoop M. 16, Riyazuddin 15).
Women: Delhi 70 (Prashanti Singh 23, Asha Hedge 18) bt. Kerala 58 (Soniya Joy 16).

Leading Scorers

Men: Vishesh Bhriguvanshi (Western Railway)
Women: Prashanti Singh (Delhi)

Final Standings

Men: Western Railway, IOB (Chennai), Indian Army, ONGC
Women: Chhattisgarh, Southern Railway, Delhi, Kerala

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