March 14, 2016

2016 Federation Cup: Kerala Women rise to the top; ONGC Men make it a four-peat

At Goa, the best in Indian basketball clashed against the best. The top performing state/unit teams from around the country came together for the competition of the elites, the 30th Federation Cup Basketball Championship for Men and Women. After six daysT of high-quality basketball performances, age-old rivals met up in Finals on Monday, March 14, at the Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Indoor Stadium at Goa University in Teleigao. The two finals were settled when the young Kerala Women's squad leaped up to defeat Chhattisgarh and Dehradun's ONGC made it four gold medals in a row with a defeat of IOB.

The 2016 Federation Cup was organized by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) and the Goa Basketball Association (GBA) from March 9-14. The annual tournament generally features the Champion District/Unit/Club from the top eight teams of the previous year's Senior National Championship in the Men's section, and the top eight state teams from the previous Senior National Championship in the Women's section. This year, hosts Goa added their units/state teams to the competition fray as well.

Old foes ONGC (Dehradun) and Indian Overseas Bank, Chennai (IOB) met once again in a final at the national stage. The two best Men's club teams in India have been sharing honours for the past several years, and defending champs ONGC were now looking for their fourth final win in a row following last year's gold medal in Pune. ONGC blazed ahead to an unbelievably hot start, leading IOB 27-5 after the first quarter alone. The quarter break provided the perfect tonic to IOB's woes, who stormed back to make the game competitive again at halftime, with ONGC leading just 31-26. With the game hanging in the balance until the final period, ONGC blew the game wide open by capitalizing on their opponent's offensive struggles to secure a 73-57 win. Team India veterans Vishesh Bhriguvanshi (20) and Yadwinder Singh (17) led the way for the winning side. International star Pratham Singh scored 25 for IOB in the loss.

The Women's final was also a captivating affair, featuring the young and star-studded Kerala squad taking on the current established powers of Chhattisgarh. Chhattisgarh's biggest strength was in Poonam Chaturvedi, their 6-foot-9 center who is India's tallest female basketball player. Chaturvedi had been unstoppable throughout the course of the tournament, and continued her dominant streak with 33 points and 11 rebounds in the final. But Kerala's speed and hot shooting had brought them this far, and gave them confidence to take an early lead in the final. At halftime, Kerala led 43-41, but it was their big third-quarter push that finally settled the game. Kerala outscored Chhattisgarh 22-15 in the third, and were able to maintain their advantage through the final period to secure a 80-71 win. The talented Keralite trio of Stephy Nixon (26), Jeena PS (22), and Neenumol PS (21) led the way in the win. Sharanjeet Kaur of Chhattisgarh added 21 in her team's losing effort.

ONGC's Vishesh Bhriguvanshi and Chhattisgarh's Poonam Chaturvedi were named MVPs of the tournament.

The BFI also befittingly chose the finale of the Federation Cup to felicitate yesteryear Senior India basketball legends. The players felicitated were Hanuman Singh (Arjuna Awardee), Hanif Patel, Mohammed Rizwan, Dilip Murthy, Siraj Ahmed (all former India men's players), Ajay Sud (Vice President-BFI), K Govindaraj (President-BFI), SK Kataria, Abbas Moontasir (both Arjuna Awardees), Sat Prakash Yadav (current head coach of the Indian men's team and former India men's player), Reginald Rajan (former India player) and Parminder Singh (Arjuna Awardee).

Earlier in the day, Telangana won third place defeating the South-Eastern Central Railways (SECR) Bilaspur Women 65-56. Telangana were led by M. Gayathri’s 20 points and P. Divya’s 18 points, while Seema Singh scored 26 points to go with 15 rebounds for SECR. In the men’s third place match, Army Red edged past Vijaya Bank, Bengaluru to clinch the bronze medal. Karnataka guard Mayur Bhat had 23 points and Jai Ram Jat added 16 in Army’s victory, while Vijaya Bank forward Arvind Arumugam had 25 points in the losing effort.

Final Scores
  • Women: Kerala (Stephy Nixon 26, Jeena PS 22, Neenumol PS 21) bt Chhattisgarh (Poonam Chaturvedi 33, Sharanjeet Kaur 21) 80-71 (23-17, 20-24, 22-15, 15-15).
  • Men: ONGC (Vishesh Bhrighuvanshi 20, Yadwinder Singh 17, Trideep Rai 15) bt. IOB (Pratham Singh 25, Aravind Annadurai 13) 73-57 (27-5, 4-21, 20-21, 22-10).

Bronze Medal Matches
  • Telangana (M. Gayathri 20, P. Divya 18) bt SECR (Seema Singh 26) 65-56 (11-10, 22-8, 20-17, 12-21).
  • Army Red (Mayur Bhat 23, Jai Ram Jat 16, Vivekananda Das 14) bt Vijaya Bank (Arvind Arumugam 25, Rajesh Uppar 14, M. Navin 13pts) 76-66 (22-19, 17-16, 15-15, 22-16)

Final Standings

  • 1. Kerala
  • 2. Chhattisgarh
  • 3. Telangana

  • 1. ONGC
  • 2. IOB
  • 3. Army Red

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