Mysuru, Jan 11 (IANS) Title contenders Punjab stunned defending champions Uttarakhand 65-57 in a cracking contest in a level one match-up in the men’s category at the 66th Senior National Basketball Championship here on Monday. India international Talwinderjit Singh Sahi was the star performer for Punjab, running the offense beautifully and putting up nine assists to go with his 11 points.
Punjab centre Gagandeep Singh had another good game with 16 points. Gurvinder Gill — another member of the Indian squad — was solid in defence for Punjab with five blocks in the game along with a tally of 13 points and 14 rebounds. With their star player Yadwinder Singh playing only limited minutes in the first half owing to his back problems, the Uttarakhand side were struggling with their defence. India captain Vishesh Bhrighuvanshi fought valiantly in a losing cause, scoring 18 points and 12 rebounds for Uttarakhand.
It was a hard-fought clash between two of the strongest teams in the competition. The defending did well in the first half and were leading 28-25 at the end of the second quarter. But Punjab pulled away late in the match to clinch a well-earned victory. Earier in the day, last year’s runners-up Tamil Nadu claimed a second consecutive victory by thrashing Kerala 73-46. Aravind Annadurai had another good game, spearheading the Tamil Nadu charge with his 22 points. Pratham Singh (16 points) and Rikin Pethani (14 points) were the other major scorers for Tamil Nadu. Jishnu Niar (14) and Jomon Jose (11) were the best scorers for Kerala. In the level 2 men’s section, Maharashtra steamrolled Arunachal Pradesh 71-29. Chhattisgarh also dominated Puducherry with an 85-45 victory. Chandigarh made easy work of Odisha riding on their centre Ravi Bhardwaj’s 27 points in an 86-70 victory. Meanwhile, veteran point guard Prakash scored an amazing 32 points to lead Mishra Madhya Pradesh to an 88-66 win over Andhra Pradesh.
This was the second successive loss for Andhra Pradesh after the defeat to West Bengal on Sunday. In the women’s level 1 games, Kerala defeated Madhya Pradesh 57-31. For Kerala, Jeena Scaria, one of India’s best players, showcased her class with 16 points. Defending champions Chhattisgarh achieved back-to-back victories, overwhelming Maharashtra 72-45. Railways beat Tamil Nadu 96-71. Navaneetha came off the bench for the Railways and put up 20 points to lead her side to the easy victory. Delhi also remained unbeaten after a thrilling 70-56 win against Punjab. Prashanti Singh led her team with 20 points and nine assists to seal the deal.