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Fine start for Vijaya Bank
Roshan Thyagarajan, Jan 2013, Bangalore, DHNS: 0:42 IST
Basketball Federation Cup
Karnataka women paid the price for relying too much on one player while Vijaya Bank managed to sneak through their opening men’s encounter despite doing the same on the opening day of the 27th Federation Cup basketball championships at the Sree Kanteerava indoor stadium on Wedneday.
The women’s team depended heavily on winger-guard LS Savita to show them the way against a technically better Kerala team. While Savita’s 28-point effort took them within striking distance of a win in their opening Group ‘B’ encounter, they melted in the face of pressure late in the game to go down 79-85.
Vijaya Bank, Karnataka’s representatives in the men’s section, looked too out of shape to give Central Excise and Customs (Kerala) a challenge at the start of their match, but their latest signing — power-foward Arvind from VBC, Mandya — put the best foot forward and injected some energy into the State champions, scoring 19 points in their 72-68 win in Group ‘A’.
Cheered by a vociferous crowd that turned up despite the lack of decent facilities, the women were the first to set foot on a court which still looked suspect from all the late renovation work. Jayavanthi Shyam’s wards showed some stomach for the fight and despite the Kerala combine of PS Jina (29) and Stephy Nixon (12) ruling the roost under the board, they managed to stay on their rivals’ heels. Banking on Savita to basically run the length and breadth of the court on each possession and make them count, Karnataka edged ahead.
Point guard Sagarika Shyam, coach Jayavanthi’s daughter, could not make an impact, unable to succeed in her nine attempts and making some poor passes. Despite that, Karnataka went into the half-time break with a ten-point lead. Back on court, PU Navnita (26) stepped into overdrive and propelled her team but Kerala’s Jina and Nixon were not willing to buckle. As they fought hard and most of their bench upped the ante, Kerala seized the lead with four minutes left and refused to let go till the final whistle.
Vijaya Bank, even though they were only a few points away at any given point, didn’t seem capable of toppling CEC early on. Riding on Subhas Shenoy’s big shoulders, the team from Kerala was all aggression. They were better with their shooting, smarter on the passes and more effective in their run up to the ring but their players stopped working together towards the end of the third quarter and that gave Vijaya Bank a chance to pull away.
Vijaya Bank had been kept alive by Arvind’s stunning show, which included a dunk off a fast break, but coach Murali Mohan chose to bench the youngster and bring in the seasoned T Roshan (6) with four minutes and 20 seconds left in the third quarter. The entry of Roshan coupled with CEC’s inability to sustain pressure gave point guard Srinivas Naik (17) and power foward Sanjay Raj (15) a chance to get into the act and they made the most of it. Vijaya Bank did wobble in their defence on occasions and gave CEC an opening late in the game but the Bankmen made their experience count and shut the door on their rivals at the right time.
In a late night Group A match, Indian Air Force stunned defending champs Punjab Police 62-53 while in Group B, fancied ONGC defeated South Central Railway 83-56. In the women’s section, Tamil Nadu thumped Andhra Pradesh 60-20 while Maharashtra had to fight hard to defeat Chhattisgarh 73-62.