December 14, 2011
India's Best Descent to Chennai: National Basketball Championship Preview!
It's back! After a year filled with basketball tournaments around India - from the sponsored club championships to the National junior-level competitions - it is finally time for the most prestigious trophy of them all. India's finest Men and Women Senior teams from states and units all across the country are set to battle for the 62nd Senior National Basketball Championship for Men & Women, set to be held in Chennai (Tamil Nadu) from December 16th-24th, 2011.
The tournament will be held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai, the same courts that hosted the 2009 FIBA Asia Championship for Women. A total of 26 Men's teams and 23 Women's teams have confirmed participation in the event, organised by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) in association with the Tamil Nadu Basketball Association (TNBA).
The participating teams are:
Men (26): Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Chandigarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Pondicherry, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Services, Indian Railways.
Women (23): Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Chandigarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Pondicherry, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Indian Railways.
It wasn't even a year ago when, in the capital city of Delhi, India's most powerful basketball forces added another feather in their caps and another stripe on their basketballs. On January 4th, 2011, Indian Railways completed a three-peat double of National Basketball Championship victories: it was the third consecutive year that both the Men's and the Women's team from Indian Railways won their respective divisions. It was the third consecutive victory for the Men, and an incredible eight consecutive chance to hoist the trophy for the women. Railways have become an unstoppable force, completely dominating Senior Basketball in India.
In the Women's division in the last championship, Indian Railways faced Delhi for the ninth consecutive time in the Final, and had no trouble cruising to a huge 99-55 victory behind a big game by legendary Center Geethu Anna Jose (29) and Anju Lakra (23). In the Men's division, Indian Railways were given a stiffer challenge by Services, but a 27-point outburst by point guard Arjun Singh in the final gave his side a 74-62 win. Tamil Nadu (Women) and Punjab (Men) finished at third place in their respective divisions.
For the National Championship in Chennai, it seems that Indian Railways' Women's squad will once again be the favourites: some of their biggest stars - including Geethu Anna Jose and Anitha Paul Durai - play for the local Southern Railways side, and will feel the home advantage in this championship. After her trial with the WNBA, expect Geethu to be stronger this time around, and expect big contributions by Chhattisgarh's sharp-shooter Anju Lakra and Anitha. Delhi, powered by the 'Singh Sisters' - Prashanti, Pratima, Akanksha - and growing star Raspreet Sidhu, will once again pose the biggest threat to the holding champions. But one of the most improved teams in the Women's side will be Kerala, who will be able to feature several of their superstars that have been making waves in the Junior and Youth divisions and haven't yet been scooped up by Railways.
Indian Railways Men may lose a little bit of their shine, however: two of their biggest stars and starters for India's international squad Vishesh Bhriguvanshi and Yadwinder Singh have transferred to ONGC, immediately tipping the power scales further up north to Uttarakhand. The Men's division is wide open now, as Services and Punjab will come to Chennai believing that they could walk away with the gold.
Another major feature at the Chennai Senior Nationals will be that India's three world-class national coaches - the Americans Kenny Natt, Pete Gaudet, and Zak Penwell - are all planning to hosts clinics for other Indian coaches as well as players gathered in Chennai for the Nationals.
Team managers will be reporting at the venue in Chennai on December 15h, and a Referees Clinic is slotted to be held the same day, on the eve of the tournament's opening tip.
Basketball fans from Chennai and nearby (and even those not so near!): This is your golden opportunity to watch the best basketball that India has to offer. Games will be held all day (usually from 8 AM - 8 PM) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, and entry is free! All of India's biggest superstars, including Jagdeep Singh, Yadwinder Singh, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, Hareesh Koroth, Trideep Rai, TJ Sahi, Geethu Anna Jose, Prashanti Singh, Anitha Paul Durai, Akanksha Singh, Raspreet Sidhu, Kokila Subramani and MANY more will be taking part.
Who do you think will be the last team standing?